Freshly picked vegetables and herbs bring out the best in pastured chicken.
By Annemarie AhearnOur neighbor down the road raises free-range birds, which are harvested in September, their meat tasting of the fields they spent their days in. This is when our garden also happens to be at its fullest: squash vines stretch across walkways into neighboring beds, carrots have absorbed every last earthly nutrient, and members of the allium family, such as shallots, leeks, and onions, are layered with flavor. With little energy for a committed culinary affair, I roughly chop some garden vegetables and herbs, brush my neighbor’s hen with butter, give it all a toss with olive oil, and pop it into a hot oven. I’ll sip wine while I wait and inhale the still-warm summer air.
1 whole locally sourced chicken
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 fennel bulb, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
half a head of garlic, cloves separated
1 cup seasonal mushrooms,
chopped into big pieces
6 carrots, cut on a diagonal into
1 lemon, cut in ¼-inch rounds
3 sprigs each of fresh thyme,
rosemary, and savory
3 sprigs parsley, leaves picked
a handful of greens (kale, Swiss
chard, beet greens, spicy mustard
Watch Annemarie make this recipe!
[jwplayer player=”3″ mediaid=”23582″]
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Unpackage the chicken and remove whatever lies within (some chickens are sold with their organs still in the body cavity) and reserve it for other culinary delights. Rinse the chicken under cold water and pat dry. Generously salt and pepper the inside and outside of the bird. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Brush butter all over the bird, inside and out. Smash garlic cloves with skins on (the skins will protect the cloves from burning). In a large baking dish or Dutch oven, toss the vegetables, thyme, rosemary, savory, garlic, and lemon with a generous amount of salt, pepper, and olive oil. Place the bird, breast side down, on top of the vegetables (this will allow the dark meat to get more heat exposure than the light meat). Place in hot oven for 30–35 minutes (depending on the size of the bird), then flip the bird and give the vegetables a little shake to prevent from sticking. Once the breast is golden brown, remove from oven and, with the tip of a sharp knife, slice between the leg and the body. If the juices run clear, the bird is done. Let rest for 5–10 minutes. Slice the bird and toss the vegetables with the greens and the parsley. Serve.
Photo by Mark Fleming