I think everyone should have a roasted chicken go to recipe in their files. I have been trying to make one at least once a week. Doesn’t always happen that way, but when I do it makes for an easy cooking week for the rest of nights to follow. We usually eat the chicken as just chicken with a side of veggies and a roll of some sort. The other nights we can make simple dishes using the left over chicken. For instance, chicken quesadillas, chicken salad, chicken tacos, chicken burritos, chicken pot pie, whatever calls for chopped and or shredded cooked chicken.
Our family isn’t completely organic although we try our best to choose organic when available. This means if I am shopping at my usual local grocery stores you will find me purchasing their organic chickens. Yes, it is WAY more expensive but I have been convinced by certain research that organic is definitely a better option. Green Living by National Geographic gives an EXCELLENT description of why choosing organic chicken over non organic, is a positive in many ways. Here are some of their reasons:
1. USDA (the official organic seal) approved chicken means pasture access was aloud for the chicken. Most chickens are confined in small cages from egg to the time they are taken for the feast. Small, confined cages create a suceptability for illnesses and diseases to easily be transfered from one chicken to the next. With access to a large pasture, the chickens are able to forage on grassy areas and consume additional nutrients to supplement the grains they are already being fed.
2. The National Organic Program gives guidelines for farmers to follow in order to produce legitimate healthy, nutritional chickens. It is only by following this program that the farmers are able to to gain the certified USDA organic seal. Now you know when you see the seal, you are in good shape!
3. Organic chickens are raised with no injected hormons or fed any chemicals and/or antibiotics. One of the reasons farmers, who are raising non-organic chickens, use chemicals and/or antibiotics in the first place is to combat the negative affects of the cramp unsanitary living conditions provided for their chickens. In a non-organic farm raising chickens, you are likely to find numerous chickens, feather to feather, crammed into tight living quarters with little to no access to pasture. Illnesses and diseases can easily be bred and transferred from chicken to chicken in these living conditions. Chemicals and antibiotics are the solutions to the negative effects and unfortunately we then consume these same chemicals and antibiotics.
4. And because they say it better than I could paraphrase…“A 2001 study at the University of Perugia, Italy, found that chickens raised organically actually taste better. The access to the outdoors encouraged movement, which encouraged muscle growth and discouraged fat accumulation (see References 4), which means a leaner, meatier chicken. Registered dietician Nancy Goodwin of the American Dietetic Association says that animals raised and allowed to forage on pasture contain more omega-3 fatty acids, alpha-linoleic acid and conjugated linoleic acid, but less overall fat than their traditionally raised counterparts (see References 5), making them healthier for your heart.”
Again, our family tries as hard as possible to stay as close to organic as possible, but the nights we go to a restaurant and the girls want some chicken, by no means am I going to deprive them of a good source of protein. It’s all about balance here.
Tonight I made our version of a roasted chicken. Try it out and see what you think!
For the brine:
- 12 cups of water
- 1/3 cup kosher salt
Heat the water for about 3 minutes in a very large bowl, using the microwave. Take out and pour in the salt. Stir until the salt has dissolved. In the meantime, wash and remove the neck, heart, and giblets from the chicken. Place chicken in the bowl with brine. If water is still too hot you can add a handful of ice to cool it down. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours or over night.
Cooking the chicken:
- 5-6 pound organic chicken
- Generous amount of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Pure olive oil or extra virgin if this is what you have on hand
- 1 lemon, cut into quarters
- 1 head of garlic, cut in half horizontally
- 1 bunch of thyme, about 20 sprigs
- Twine for tying together legs of chicken and the thyme
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Adjust oven rack to the bottom second rack.
Take chicken out of the brine. Discard the brine and THOROUGHLY rinse the chicken inside and out with cold tap water. Pat the chicken dry using paper towels (a dry chicken is critical to allow for the olive oil to stick). Place chicken in roasting pan. Sprinkle about two teaspoons of salt and pepper into the cavity of the chicken. Stuff two lemon quarters, one half of the garlic into the cavity. Next stuff in the thyme, followed by the remaining lemon quarters and garlic. Tie the legs together as tightly as possible.
Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil onto the chicken. Using your hands, ensure that every inch of the chicken has been coated with the olive oil. The olive oil helps to brown and make the skin crisp. Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of salt and pepper on the back side of the chicken. Tuck in the wings and sprinkle an additional 2 teaspoons of salt and pepper over the breast side of the chicken.
Place roasting pan on the second rack of the oven. Cook for 1 hour. Using an instant read thermometer, check the temperature of the chicken (stick in the thickest part of the chicken). If the thermometer reads 160 degrees, take out of the oven. If not, continue cooking until the thermometer reaches correct temperature. Leave chicken in the pan and leave the foil covering for ten minutes. This will allow the juices to redistribute through the chicken. Cutting too soon will release all of those yummy juices.
Slice and serve as desired!