Day 65–Roast Chicken

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Roast chicken is a great way to make the most of a whole chicken!

I love roasting foods, especially when it’s cold outside. There’s just nothing like coming inside from the cold and smelling the aroma of roast chicken wafting through the air. It’s like a big food hug. All winter vegetables seem to benefit from roasting as well–broccoli, carrots, turnips, beets, Brussel sprouts–as the roasting process brings out the inner sweetness of the vegetables. I’ve been reading about roasting whole fish and I may try that soon as well.

This week I scored not one, but two fresh, pasture-raised chickens at the farmers market. This is a big deal for me because fresh birds (chicken, turkey, duck) have a better texture when they haven’t been frozen. And pasture raised chickens just plain ol’ taste better than what you find in the grocery. Our chickens were tasty and beautiful and with two chickens, I have enough for leftovers and chicken soup later in the week.

Roasting a chicken is an easy and forgiving process. I like to roast mine at a higher temperature (400-450) because the skin gets nice and crispy. But you can roast a chicken at 350, too, it will just take a little longer. I use Herbes de Provence on my chickens, but you can use whatever you like–just salt and pepper, a fancy homemade spice blend, rosemary from your garden, etc. I don’t typically stuff my chickens with anything, but you can put some cut up onion or a lemon half if that makes you happy.

A note about washing chickens. I’ve seen people wash chickens in the sink before they prep them for cooking, but this actually doesn’t stop any possible salmonella issues. I have also read that washing the chicken could possibly contaminate other parts of your kitchen, including your faucet, as the water sprays around. So, I do not wash my chicken, but I do make sure it is cooked to a safe (but not overdone) temperature of 160 degrees.

After roasting chickens for about 20 years, I learned two new things last night. First, cooking two chickens takes a lot longer than cooking one. Not sure why I hadn’t computed that, but the longer cooking time meant I had some kitchen chaos going on for a while. I also learned that meat thermometers can apparently take on a life of their own. Mine decided to go all HAL on me, telling me the chicken was cooked, when it was clearly still mostly raw (and yes, I made sure it was not touching bone).

All was well in the end, but I do not recommend trying to cook two chickens, a pan of biscuits and a lemon pound cake simultaneously. Oi. Kudos to my loving spouse who did not gripe about the dishes and the chaos. He is awesome. Even more awesome than a fresh, roasted chicken 🙂

Roast Chicken

  • 1 whole roasting chicken (thawed if purchased frozen); giblets and neck removed
  • 1 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Herbes de Provence
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Prepare chicken by putting it breast side up in a shallow roasting pan.
  3. Rub the chicken with butter or olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic and herbs over the entire chicken.
  5. Put in the preheated oven and cook until the internal temperature is 160 degrees. I’ve found with most chickens, this is about 1.5-2 hours, depending on the weight of the chicken.
  6. When chicken reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees, remove the roasting pan from the oven, cover the chicken with a piece of foil and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. This will allow the meat to relax and the juices will return to the bird, ensuring a more tender and juicy chicken.
  7. Carve and serve to you amazed and loving family. Or, tuck in and enjoy on your own!
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Day 54–The Carbon Footprint of Food

The older I get, the more I appreciate the aspects of strength and balance in my life. If I live to be 90, then I officially reached the mid-point in my life this month, which is cause for some introspection. While there are some issues (and my patient husband sees this more than anyone else) where I still have strength of conviction along with hair-trigger emotional responses, I also have a greater ability to step back from life, watch what is happening, and be more balanced and patient in my reactions.

So it is with the choices we make about how we live. I have the strength of conviction that I want a healthier, less toxic life for my family (and your family, too), but I also realize that we have to make balanced choices and sometimes those choices involve tradeoffs. It would be nice if we could have zero impact on the earth and the environment, but I’ve read stories of people who have tried and it nearly drove them mad. Maybe the goal should be to make the choices necessary to have the least impact while maintaining a healthy personal life.

Here is a link to a great resource on understanding the carbon footprint of the food we eat. This tool is helpful (and especially fun  if you have children) in understanding how the choices we make about food have an impact on the health of the world. Just one more resource to bring informed decision-making and, hopefully, greater balance to our lives.

http://eatlowcarbon.org

But sometimes food options that have a low carbon footprint are not necessarily the best foods for you. Homemade cookies, for example, have a fairly low carbon footprint, but that doesn’t mean you should eat them at every meal. And eggs have a low carbon footprint, but factory chicken farms are notoriously inhumane.

So it all becomes a balancing act. Maybe you have a steak one night, but balance the impact of that with lower impact dishes during the week. Or maybe you switch to chicken. Or buy only pasture raised eggs. Or maybe you decide meat isn’t important enough and go vegetarian altogether. Whatever you decide is right for you, it’s good to have the tools needed to make strong and balanced decisions about your life and your body.

This website isn’t a cure-all, but it is fun, engaging and informative. I hope you enjoy it and learn something new, as I have! Now, maybe I’ll go have a cookie 🙂

 

Day 40–The Meatrix (Agribusiness and Your Meat Supply)

Could chickens roam Cary backyards?

Today, the Town Council for my town (Town of Cary) will vote for the fourth time on whether to allow residents to keep backyard chickens. Cary is known for being extremely proactive when it comes to parks and greenways or the arts, but not so much with chickens. I still can’t figure that out. My neighbor could have a dog that barks all night, but they couldn’t have quiet chickens. Poultry bias at work?

In honor of this (hopefully) historic vote, we are having quiche again with eggs from our favorite chickens, Coco Chanel and Oprah. You can access the quiche recipe by clicking on the “recipe” menu at the top of the blog page and go to Day 25. Yummy!

Moopheus, Leo, Chickety, and Agent Industry explore food production in "The Meatrix"

In the meantime, I’m sharing a series of entertaining, sometimes gross, and always enlightening animated shorts called “The Meatrix.” If you have seen the movie “The Matrix,” you will probably love them. The protagonist pig Leo is guided by hero Moopheus to learn the truth about agribusiness meat production (The Meatrix I), dairy production (The Meatrix II), and the fast food industry (The Meatrix II 1/2). The series was produced by The Sustainable Table project and has received numerous film awards.

The Cary Town Council should probably watch these before their vote 🙂 Go Chickens!!!

Day 10–A Locavore’s Lunch–Beasley’s Chicken + Honey

 

I woke up thinking today is Friday. It is Tuesday. Is it me or do other people do that, too? Sometimes, when the week stretches in front of you like a yawning chasm of time, there is a remedy. It’s called the Girls Lunch Out.

So, in the interest of self-preservation and blog research, we headed out to one of Raleigh’s newer, trendy lunch spots, Beasley’s Chicken  + Honey. Using all sustainable and many locally produced ingredients, Beasley’s serves fried chicken drizzled with local honey, locally produced veggie sides and desserts.

Beasley's Chicken + Honey uses local and sustainable foods for its menu

Beasley’s chicken is sustainably raised with no growth hormones or antibiotics. Although it sources from Georgia (why???), we like that it still meets our sustainable criteria. The vegetables (and there are many) source from primarily NC, although our server couldn’t give us any detail.

My 11-year-old companion (not yet tracked in at school) had the fried chicken biscuit, a fried chicken cutlet on a HUGE biscuit with pickled green tomatoes and a honey Dijon sauce. She had NC sweet potatoes on the side. “It was the perfect combination of flavors.” She finished about half, so she has lunch for tomorrow, too.

Chicken quarter (dark) and Ashe Co. pimento mac & cheese. Oh my.

I had the quarter chicken (dark), which came drizzled with honey and was very juicy and delicious. I had the Ashe County pimento mac & cheese for a side and that was better than the chicken. I took about half of my lunch home, too. I just can’t pack away fried chicken like I used to (and this is probably a good thing).

The service was good and we liked the industrial chic decor. At $25.00 for both of us, it was pricey, but it helps that we will each get 2 meals out of our lunch. And with fried chicken and mac & cheese, this isn’t a regular lunch spot for health reasons. Good to know that downtown Raleigh has delish sustainable/local fare!

Still wish today were Friday, but now I can face the week again!