Roasting a chicken in the oven is as easy or complicated as you choose to make it. According to my personal favorite cookbook: Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, a 7 pound chicken takes 1 hour and 45 minutes to cook. When I cook a chicken I put it in the oven in whatever state of thaw it happens to be, and after 1 hour of cooking, I check every half hour by piercing it with a fork in a thick spot (like the breast). When the juices run clear, the chicken is done.
If the chicken is lean, rub the outside with butter and sprinkle salt on the outside of the chicken and inside the cavity, then brown the chicken lightly first by starting the oven at 425 for 10-15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350, turning and basting until done. Baste the chicken in its own cooking juices.
My favorite herbs to add are thyme (which is a nice herb for coughs and chicken soup). Basil and sage are also tasty options. A very lean chicken could be wrapped in bacon. But if the chicken has plenty of golden fat, all you need is a little salt with your herbs and it will self-baste.
Our chickens are raised on outside in “chicken tractors” and moved to a fresh spot of clean grass every day. Our favorite breed for meet are the Rangers, an active chicken that plumps up nicely, but loves to forage. Chickens raised on grass really do taste better. We also feed them locally grown non-GMO feed. Our chickens can be ordered at our new website and picked up at the Sara Hardy Farmer’s Market in Traverse City on Wednesday or Saturday from 8am-noon. Or you can make arrangements to pick your bird up directly from the farm.
Our chickens come in a variety of sizes, the smallest 3-4 pound birds are usually cut up for frying. Larger chickens 5-10 pounds are ideal for roasting. A chicken that was a rooster will be leaner and longer then hens which tend to be more compact and plump. My preference when cooking is to cook slowly, until the chicken is falling off the bones.
After your family has a chance to eat their favorite parts you can still get a few more meals from your chicken. Remove all the meat from the bones (this a good job to assign to your kids or a willing husband), put the bones and skin into a large stock pot. The meat can be thrown into stir-fries, added to salads, or anywhere you’d use pre-cooked chicken. The pot with the bones and skins can be filled the rest of the way with water and cooked on your stove for 24-48 hours with 1 Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. The vinegar actually draws calcium and other minerals out of the bones, thus making your broth super nutritious! This makes a wonderful chicken stock for soups that your family will love.
Visit my blog about Turkey Potpies for other ideas for leftover chicken and broth.