Home On The Free-Range

Roast Chicken 3We’ve had a few false starts to Autumn here in Brisbane. Finally and with just a few weeks left, we’re experiencing some crisp mornings and chilly nights.

Time to  try out the new hoodie!

It’s amazing how a change in season changes our food cravings. Just a few degrees lower and my mind turns hungrily to comfort food. Nothing too heavy yet, we’re not getting too carried away (like those people in scarves and jackets in April. Jumping the gun a little folks?) but the smell of a roasting chook will make most people feel right at home. (For the uninitiated, chook is Australian for chicken).

We don’t eat a lot of meat in our house, most of the time none, given that the Doctor is a vegetarian (and currently absent by the way). So when we do I like to make sure we choose quality. I’ve chosen a large free-range chicken from our local butcher. More on that later. Lets cook our chook first.

Roast Free Range Chicken.
1 large free range chicken – about 1.8kg
1 tablespoon cooking oil – we’re using coconut
sea salt
1/2 a lemon – thick slices
5 garlic cloves
thyme- a few sprigs

Roast Chicken 6HOW
Pre-heat your oven to 180*c. Rinse the insides of the chicken and pat dry. Insert the lemon, garlic, thyme and a little salt into the cavity. Cross the legs over and use some twine to tie in place. This is to keep everything inside. Smear oil all over the skin and sprinkle with salt.

Place your bird onto a baking tray with baking paper, breast side down. Place in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn the chicken up the right way, baste with some oil from the tray and return to the oven for another hour. To check if its done, gently pull the leg away from the body, just a little. There should be no resistance  and the juices should run clear. If not, back in the oven for a bit please, I don’t care how hungry you are. Nobody wants to eat your under-cooked chook 🙂Roast Chicken 7And that is how I roast a chicken at home. Delicious, juicy and tender. And easy. There are other ways of course. Sous vide, for example. Brining before roasting helps maintain flavour and moisture. Allowing the skin of the raw bird to dry in the refrigerator before roasting to create a crispier finish.

How complicated do you want to make comfort?Roast Chicken 4As for free range, I’m a big fan. For a few reasons.

First and foremost I hope that the creatures we raise for food are being kept in a healthy and humane environment. It is so easy for people to be cynical about this but I believe it’s important.

Flavour. Chicken once upon a time had flavour, and still does if you  look at what you buy. When you buy a well reared chicken the flavour is noticeably stronger. To me this makes the experience a little more special, and not something I need to do all the time, or just to fill my plate. Instead I’ll fill my plate with vegies and a small amount of tasty meat.

I may have paid a little more too so I want to stretch this bird a little further. Any left over meat is cleaned off the bones to become tasty little Vietnamese rolls. Bones make stock which makes great soup. We made a delicious brown rice congee that will feed us 3 more times this week. So in fact I’ve  already saved some coin.

It’s easy to let labels with ‘free range’ ease our conscience. There is a lot of misinformation and poor legislation around what is considered free range (or organic for that matter). Do some research is all I can suggest. Start with a search engine or ask your butcher. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Wow. Who let Mr Serious in huh?

This has been part 1 of our chicken dinner experience. Next post we’ll show off the finished product on the table and the ways Kid got involved. Here’s a preview.Roast Chicken

Happy Cooking!



One Comment Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s