Recipe:Herb-Crusted Pastured Chicken

By Anna Wills

If you can’t find local pasture-raised poultry at your farmer’s market in June then you aren’t really trying! Many poultry farmers in Virginia process their first batch of meat chickens in May after the spring rains give the pastures a flush of green growth that pastured poultry eagerly gobble up.

Chicken is such a versatile meat that can be simple and comforting or complex and elegant. This is a simple recipe that can work for any weeknight or an weekend dinner party.  Applying some of the herb mixture under the skin makes the leftovers great for chicken salad or cold chicken sandwiches the next day.

Honestly I hardly ever roast only one chicken.  In my kitchen, I prepare two or more.  Everyone gets a nice crispy thigh or drumstick the first night and then the leftovers are enjoyed for several days. During the busy growing season preparing meals in advance is a big time saver in our kitchen.

Grassfed meats chef Shannon Hayes presents this recipe for the charcoal grill, but I’ve adapted it for the oven.

Herb- Crusted Pastured Chicken

Ingredients:

one whole pastured chicken, any size

2 TBSP dried herbs (thyme, rosemary and tarragon are my favorites)

1 TBSP coarse salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

juice from one lemon

Method:

Preheat the oven to 325 F degrees.

Combine the salt, pepper and dried herbs in a small dish. Mix well.

Place the chicken in a roasting pan or cast iron skillet. Loosen the skin of the bird and massage half of the herb mixture directly into the meat. Don’t be afraid to really reach far under the breast skin and up onto the drumsticks and thighs.

Squeeze the juice of the whole lemon over the outer surface of the skin of the bird, then sprinkle the skin with the remaining herb mixture. Massage into the skin.

Allow the meat to roast until the internal temperature reads 160-165 degrees.

Carve legs, wings and breast meat directly from the bird when it is cool enough to touch.  Pick leftover chicken from the bones and get creative with the leftovers the next day.