How to cook a whole chicken

Isn’t this a beaut? First whole chicken ever cooked by a happy customer!

When we first started raising meat chickens, I assumed everyone my age knew how to cook one. I’ll blame the lack of knowledge on the 90s craze of the boneless, skinless chicken breast. I also admit to being a slow learner…I rejected cooking as a kid, stumbled my way through early adulthood, and only in the past five years or so did I start feeling comfortable in the kitchen. Thankfully I married a man who loves to cook! Part of the fun of raising and selling meat chickens has been teaching our customers how to cook them. Most had never done it. Here’s our easy way to make sure your chicken is delicious.

An important note…we learned the hard way to never cook one the day of processing. The meat needs a chance to chill and relax. Keep it in the fridge for a day or two.

We typically roast the chicken in the oven, but a large crockpot works well too. For the oven, preheat to 400 degrees. Take the chicken out of the bag and put it in an oven safe dish. Next, add seasoning to the skin. My favorite spice blends are from Penzey’s and include the Bicentennial Rub and Ruth Ann’s Muskego Ave seasonings. In a pinch, salt and pepper work just as well. I begin by loosening the skin from the meat with my hand, making sure I rub the spice directly on the meat. Once seasoned, I also like to add a peeled whole onion to the cavity of the bird, which gives it a nice flavor. Put it in the preheated oven and cook for 15 min. Turn the heat down to 350 and continue to cook. We’ll check the bird at 60, 75 and 90 minutes with a meat thermometer, and take it out once it reaches the safe temperature of 165 degrees. This is measured by sticking the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. The juices should also run clear. Allow the meat to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. We like to have mashed potatoes and a green vegetable as our sides, along with homemade gravy.

Let us know your favorite way to cook in the comments below!


What we’ve been up to in 2014

The lack of posts is not indicative of lack of activity on the farm. From making hay to birthing livestock to processing poultry, it’s been a busy spring. For those interested in antibiotic-free, pastured meat chickens, we are doing our last round of butchering until fall this Saturday, so be sure to get your order in before then so we can add you to our list. They keep well in the freezer and provide 1-3 meals for your family, depending on size. We like to roast it and eat it with mashed potatoes the first day, then make either chicken noodles, casseroles, or chicken salad the next days. But I digress…back to the new babies…

We had four lambs this spring. Two ewes and two rams. We’ll save one of the rams for breeding and raise one for meat. Lucy will get to show one of the ewe lambs at the fair this fall since this is her first year in 4-H. Here’s some nice pictures of momma after giving birth…lambs stand up pretty soon, with some gentle cleaning and nudging from their mom.


And soon get busy having their first meal.


After keeping each mom with her baby(ies) for 24 hours or so, they can all go back in the flock together.


We even did some milking this spring and Andy loved the taste of it. We stored some up in the freezer in case we’d need to bottle feed at some point.


We had to buy new bees this spring as we lost all but one hive. Andy’s dad came over to help him as he is going to start keeping bees this year too.


Piglets! Much to my shock we ended up with pigs on the farm again (thank you craigslist). We bred this sow to the neighbor’s boar and ended up with a litter of 12 (after 2 died). They are super cute, and momma is super protective.


I do love how she seems to be smiling here.


We also had kittens on the farm this spring, and their momma is an excellent mouser/ratter. We had one loose in the house and we coaxed her in (she is a stray and must’ve been a house cat before us). She found it within minutes and then we coaxed her back out so she could feed her babies.


And one parting shot of the sheep out on pasture. The lambs are so cute to watch as the bounce around.


Again, we’ll have fresh chicken this weekend and currently have freezer lamb and rabbit, and eggs for sale. We’re also taking orders for Thanksgiving turkeys now, as we’ll only raise the number ordered. Feel free to stop on Sundays for farm visits.

Moving out the chicks

Yesterday’s post was actually from a couple weeks ago (April 14). Andy sent me this picture showing Linus helping with the transfer of the meat chickens to pasture. There is an optimum age to move them out, according to Andy via Joel Salatin. So it was time for these little guys to go out. Thankfully, I think we’ve finally rounded the corner and should have warm weather from here on out. With the craziness of spring I keep holding my breath!

Chicks moving out!

Old chicks and new chicks

After living in the chicken house all winter, a quick sale on baby chicks inspired us to get the layers out of the house and into their wagon. All on one Sunday afternoon.

At first I was manning the door, but then Lucy took over. Andy and his dad were catching and trimming nails and wings, and then Linus was carrying them out. These pictures are delightful because it shows that my kids are finally getting into the farming thing. Well, at least the big two.


If you can’t tell, Sally isn’t quite sure what to think.

John and Andy bringing out birds.


The baby chicks. This is our first time trying the ones from TSC. They were wanting to clear them out so we purchased 46 for a dollar each. The next day we only had 36. We quickly learned that our good barn/mouser cat had learned where he could get a quick meal. Andy stopped this by reinforcing the house and putting screens over the brooder. However, one little guy had to to spend the night in the house to heal from a wound.


The Life of a Meat Chicken, Week 8

No, your math isn’t off…we skipped a week in blogging as we were on vacation. A rarity in the farming world, this was made possible by the generous help from some new friends, family, and neighbors. The chickens grow rapidly during the final two weeks of their life and you can tell a big difference in them compared to two weeks ago. We will be butchering again soon so place your order now.


The Life of a Meat Chicken, Week 5

If you would have told 18 year old me that I’d be a chicken farmer in 2012 I would have either laughed or smacked you (I was a bit violent then :). However with the boss latest up for a few days chorea have become my responsibility. Up until a few weeks ago I was still nervous around the birds, but the added responsibility had provided me opportunity to learn and grow in my comfort level with the birds. And they really are fascinating to watch.

The meat chickens continue to eat and grow and poop and therefore we are moving them twice a day. They are pretty ugly now compared to how they started so it is easier to imagine we will eat them in a couple weeks.