No one gets tired of roasted chicken made with fresh rosemary, especially when September brings a bit of cooler air and “comfort” food recipes come out of hibernation. And, if you were around sometime in March, you just might remember this post. Somehow it got lost in the blogger back hole, and that is just not fair. I had to find a way to bring it back.
It wasn’t just the red wine, fresh rosemary or fabulous cooking pot that made this so delicious. It really started at the chicken farm where this chicken was under the care of an organic free-range farmer. It wasn’t just the slow roasting technique, an option I prefer, as you could just as easily take the shorter route at a higher temperature.
It started with the chicken, happily, walking around, eating specially certified grains, not being pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormones, not being force fed for early slaughter, raised by people who actually care about the life cycle. Here is a little history of the chicken taking us from China to Ancient Egypt, chronicling the life of the chicken, then and now.
Organic chicken looks better, smells better, cooks better and tastes better. And the health benefits won’t be cancelled out by the hormones, antibiotics, and a chicken fed high fructose corn syrup, animal by-products, and genetically-modified grain.
For a while I was fooled by what is known as natural chicken. Natural chicken doesn’t necessarily mean healthier, but it does mean the food industry is listening and has a growing concern that the consumer is reading labels. According to this article, from the Chicago Tribune, natural doesn’t necessarily mean healthier.
The USDA requires “natural” to mean minimally processed with no artificial flavors, colors, or synthetic ingredients or chemical preservatives. The kicker is that this is required only after slaughter. How they are fed or their living conditions has nothing to do with their “natural” label, and they can be fattened up or injected with broth to weigh more. The good news is that there is a movement to redefine what “natural” means. In the meantime, I am opting to buy organic. And, when I do, I most often buy the whole chicken and with very little prep time have a wonderful dinner that looks and tastes far better than the effort.
It started with a medley of vegetables that served as the chicken’s roasting rack.
- large roasting chicken
- rosemary sprigs
- lemon, quartered
- rosemary, finely chopped (for potatoes)
- few celery stalks or fennel stalks
- olive oil
- 1/2 large onion, thickly sliced
- 1/2 large onion, halved to stuff inside chicken
- 4 cloves garlic
- 6 red potatoes cut in half
- 6 carrots, sliced on diagonal
- 1 cup red wine
- 1/2 -1 cup water
- frozen peas
- sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
Prepare the following vegetables to serve as roasting rack:
- Thick sliced onion
- Celery stalks or fennel slices
- Rosemary sprigs
- Wash chicken, pat dry, salt inside cavity. Rub with olive oil.
- Stuff with remaining onion, 2 cloves garlic, lemon and 2-3 rosemary sprigs
- Put in baking dish over roasting rack vegetables. I used a clay roaster that was soaked in water for 20 minutes, with domed lid, specifically for roasting chicken.
- Add red wine and about 1/2 cup water.
- Put lid on. Roast for 20 minutes at 400. Turn down to 300 degrees.
(Adjust your time for the size of your chicken)
- After 2 1/2 hours, put in carrots, potatoes, cook 1-1/2 more hours, until chicken is golden brown. Baste every 30 minutes.
- Add frozen peas five minutes before you out of the oven. Mix with juices. Peas will stay bright.
- Allow to rest for at least 20 minutes.
This chicken was moist, skin was crisp, and especially good as dinner again the next day.
I do use a different method of cooking chicken fast in a cast iron pan, but sometimes I like the slow roast with vegetables for a real down home comforting meal.