Happy Chickens!

A few weeks ago Chris and I watched the documentary “Food, Inc.” While it reaffirmed many beliefs I have held about American food processing for years, it also brought up several new insights I hadn’t before considered. It was a very informative yet entertaining film, and I think it should be required viewing for all Americans.

I strive to make thoughtful and responsible decisions when it comes to the food we consume. We live in a big city with a surprisingly substantial and diverse farmer’s market system, but my husband isn’t entirely convinced that the food purchased there is worth the extra money. How can we really know if the food is raised in a sustainable and humane manner? These days, there are so many deceitful marketing ploys, and it is a challenge to know who and what to trust.

So, we took an 80 mile drive south of Chicago to a charming family farm. When we arrived we were greeted by a delightful woman named JoAnn who answered all of our questions and gave us the freedom to walk her property and inspect her facilities and livestock. Her chickens are raised in fresh air (not cooped up in dreary buildings with no natural light). She does not use steroids, hormones, pesticides or antibiotics. While her chickens are allowed to scratch in the dirt and pick at grubs and bugs, she also supplements their diet with a feed she mixes herself so she knows exactly what they are eating. We know she is a farmer we can trust, and we hope to build a lasting relationship with her.

That day we spent close to $200 on a wide variety of fresh eggs and poultry (the farm had beef available, but we don’t eat red meat or pork). While this was a lot of money for us to spend at once, we stocked our freezer and should have enough meat to last for a couple months. And, it was a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Evie loved chasing all the farm cats and visiting with the chatty hens. Chris and I decided that this will be the only way we purchase meat from now on. Not only is it the healthy choice, but it is an environmentally responsible and ethical choice, too.

And, how does the food taste? Delicious!! We commented that the chicken actually tastes like chicken; the meat has real flavor, unlike the drab and dry flavor grocery store chicken that just sorta takes on whatever flavor it is being cooked with. Using boneless/skinless chicken breasts I made a teriyaki-ginger stirfry with Napa cabbage and mango. I also prepared a simple roast chicken that was a real treat on a chilly November evening.

Here’s my recipe for Chris’ Favorite Roast Chicken:

1 3-lb whole chicken
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 lemon
3 garlic cloves, crushed
dried thyme
kosher salt
potatoes, halved and quartered
carrots, peeled and sliced into sticks
1 onion, peeled and sliced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Rinse and pat dry chicken. Make sure to remove any giblets/neck that might be hiding inside the bird and toss those.

Mix salt, pepper and dried thyme together. Rub outside of chicken with softened butter and generously sprinkle exterior and interior with salt-thyme mixture. Chop lemon into four pieces and squeeze exterior and interior with juice. Put two lemon quarters inside the bird along with the crushed garlic.

Tie the feet of the bird with kitchen string. Place on a rack in a 13×9 glass baking dish. Cook for at least an hour — cooking time depends a lot on the individual bird, so keep an eye on it once the hour mark has passed.

While the chicken is cooking, mix the potatoes, carrots and onions with a generous swirl of olive oil, salt and pepper. When the chicken has about 25 minutes left, drop the veggies around it. Cook until chicken reaches 180 degrees and veggies are tender. Serve everything together and enjoy!!

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4 Comments for this entry

  1. Meghan Smithe Shriver says:

    How Kate Gosslin of you!

  2. colleen says:

    I cannot handle how adorable Evie is in these pictures!

  3. Dianna says:

    Are you willing to share the name of the farm? We are about an hour and a half southwest of Chicago and are looking for a place to purchase from!

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