You want to know what the secret is to the best roast chicken?
It’s the chicken.
When you have high quality chicken then cooking that chicken is simple and easy with very few ingredients. Same for all food. The better the quality the less you need to do, the more enjoyable and affordable eating and cooking becomes.
I learned this when we raised our first batch of Freedom Ranger chicks. I was skeptical to how they would taste since I have had pastured raised Cornish Cross chicken, which is the breed you generally get in the grocery stores minus the pastured raised part. Let’s just say even when pastured raised, Cornish Cross don’t taste like anything. Bland, dry and boring. You need to add all these fancy flavors to enjoy it. I wanted a base line to really test the flavor of our Freedom Ranger breed once they were harvested. I used a very simple recipe from Quinn at Reformation Acres. Quinn used this recipe to do a blind taste test for her family to compare Cornish birds with Freedom Rangers. Let me tell you: THE.BEST.CHICKEN.EVER.
Here is how stupid easy it is:
- Rub your chicken all over with a fat of your choice (olive oil, coconut oil, melted butter…) and salt and pepper.
- Add a few pinches of salt and pepper and maybe a clove or two of garlic to the cavity.
- Place in or on a roasting dish, pan or sheet of your choosing. I love my dutch oven for this…. and roast in preheated oven for 30 minutes at 475-500 deg F. This seals the skin.
- Reduce heat to 325 F, Place a cup of liquid (water, stock, beer, wine, bourbon, whatevs) in bottom of dish/pan and cover bird with lid or foil sealed as best as you can and roast for 90 minutes*.
- Pull the bird out, let it rest while you pour yourself a glass of something then carve and enjoy.
Don’t forget about the yummy juices in the bottom of the cooking vessel for gravy. Don’t even get fancy by trying to add a thickening agent or anything. Just add salt/pepper to taste and spoon onto your slices of chicken. Easy-peasy.
When you use high quality chicken, like pasture raised Freedom Rangers, you will get a finished product that tastes like chicken x 10. Full flavor, moist and wholesome without a lot of acrobatics in the kitchen.
Of course on the days you are feeling more fancy you can add whatever herbs, spices or fruit you have on hand to the pot. Whatever is in season. My favorite is rosemary, lemon and Old Bay (I put it on everything). But don’t get OCD about it. Try orange, apples, plums, figs… I’ve used them all and all are goooooooood. Just a handful here and there of this and that. I hate recipes and if you taste as you cook you don’t need one.
Our first batch of Freedom Rangers were so delicious that I have 50 more chicks arriving next week to be harvested in late October. I will NEVER buy store bought chicken again.