It all starts with how chickens are raised and how they are processed. So the number one step to a tender chicken is to know your farmer.
We raise our chickens in small batches that are free-range on pasture. We only close them up at night to protect from predators. During the day they are grazing on fresh grass, eating bugs, grubs and such. The exercise helps to make healthy, happy birds.....not tough birds. You get tender muscle meat and not mush from birds not allowed exercise.
They get lots of raw milk and kefir. We can taste the difference when our birds are milk fed. The grain we feed is non gmo and soy free.
The harvesting and processing of our meat birds all happens right here on the farm. They have no stress from traveling to a processor miles away. Low stress at harvesting helps to prevent tough meat.
Most pastured chicken processors freeze their birds the same day they are butchered. We do not. We chill our chickens for 24 to 48 hours before freezing. The chemicals responsible for rigormortis need to be broken down a little before being frozen. This makes a huge difference in making a tender chicken. This way you do not have to brine for tenderness.
There are so many delicious ways to cook a pastured chicken but most often we roast it. Roasting is quick and easy and allows for several meals out of one bird. Just rinse and dry the bird. You can leave it whole or spatchcock (butterfly) it. Rub on some softened butter or olive oil. Salt and pepper it. If desired, add some herbs like rosemary and maybe a bit of lemon juice. The key is to start with a HOT oven (450) for 20 minutes then turn the heat down to 375 for the remaining time of 45-55 minutes or more depending on the size of the bird.
After you have the first meal of succulent roast chicken you can pull the rest of the meat off the bones and then use the carcass to make stock that can be used in soups or other recipes.
A few ideas for the leftover meat:
- Shred the meat and add barbecue sauce for pulled chicken sandwiches.
- Mince for chicken salad.
- Chop for Chicken Pot Pie.
- Shred for enchiladas.
- Chunk for soup.
- Use in stir fry.
- Make Chicken Divan.
One chicken has so many possibilities! Cook two at one time, debone, chop and freeze the meat for future meals. I call this farm fresh fast food!
Contact us at 910-770-0241 to purchase some of these delicious and nutritious McGirt Farm pastured chickens!