The following recipe is the easiest and best way to cook a pastured chicken. A pastured chicken is vastly superior to a conventional, supermarket bird. This recipe involves almost no preparation time and only a couple of ingredients. However, this simple recipe unlocks all the delicious flavor of a pastured chicken.
Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: One hour, or up to one hour forty minutes for a larger bird.
Cook it through. Use a dependable meat thermometer to ensure the chicken is fully cooked to the center. Nothing is more frustrating than to put a beautifully browned bird on the table, hearing the oohs and ahs of the family, then cutting into the thigh and realizing you need another 10 minutes in the oven. The thermometer should read at least 170 degrees in the thigh, and 160 in the breast.
A note about the weight of the chicken and cooking time: For a 3 pound chicken, total cooking time will be around 60 minutes. For a 4 pound bird, total time will be about one hour twenty minutes. A 5 pound bird will take about one hour forty minutes.
- one 3 to 5 pound chicken
- 2 or 3 tbls unsalted butter (helps the skin brown evenly and become crispy)
- sea salt and crushed black pepper
- roasting pan or V-rack
To prepare: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place a roasting pan or V-rack in the oven as it pre-heats. Soften 2 tablespoons butter and brush over the entire skin of the chicken. Generously sprinkle sea salt and crushed black pepper on the bird.
When the oven is ready, take out the roasting pan or v-rack, and place the chicken, wing side down, on the rack and put it in oven. After 15 minutes, take out the bird and turn it to the other wing and put it back in the oven. After another 15 minutes, take out the bird and place it breast side up on the pan and put it back in oven. Turn the oven to 450 degrees, and cook for another 20 to 25 minutes. (Turning the oven to 450 helps nicely brown the skin while finishing the bird.)
(Note: If you are cooking a 5 pound bird, place it on one side for 20 minutes then the other side for 20 minutes. Then, cook it breast side up for another 30 to 40 minutes before you turn the oven up to 450. You may be able to cook a 5 pound chicken all the way through at 375 long enough to sufficiently brown the skin.)
Remove the chicken from oven. Let stand ten minutes. Serve.
A note about v-racks: V-racks are excellent for roasting perfect chickens because they keep the chicken from sitting in its own juices while it cooks, and also makes it easy to rotate the bird to cook evenly and thoroughly.
Why turn the bird during cooking? Turning the bird allows it to cook evenly on all sides and in the center. If you are cooking a large bird, 5 pounds or bigger, don’t leave it on the sides too long, to make sure the wing tips don’t dry out or burn. Pre-heating the roasting pan or v-rack allows the chicken to start cooking immediately when you place it in the oven, instead of waiting for the pan to heat.
Ideas for Left-Overs
This roasted chicken recipe makes excellent left-overs. Strip the chicken from the bones and save it for chicken salad, pasta, stir fry, chicken tacos, or simply heated back up in a pan lightly coated with olive oil. Some families can get up to three or four meals from one chicken. It is a great value to divide one bird across several meals and only have to do the prep and cooking once—especially with this easy recipe.
The meat from pastured chickens holds up extremely well to re-cooking. I have reheated the same chicken meat four or five times with no significant degeneration or mushiness to the meat—a sure sign of a quality bird. Strip the chicken meat from the bones, divide it into individual serving bags, and freeze it. Thaw out the frozen cooked chicken for a quick easy meal.
Go to fourstringfarm.com for recipes ideas. You can also use the drippings from your roast chicken to make a wonderful wholesome gravy. Finally, you can use the bones, back, neck, and other discards from the bird for high quality chicken stock. If you have never tried to make gravy or stock, you will be amazed at how easy it is—and how delicious.