I've been lucky enough at various times in my life to have had chickens. I love chickens. They're really quite fascinating and although they often look quite alike, they have their own unique personalities and can be a lot of fun to watch.
My first husband's family had battery hens. I used to help grade eggs in the hen house on Saturdays, which was a long metal building. I never saw the inside part where the chickens were kept. I only ever saw the grading room, where all the eggs used to pass through a machine which would then categorize them according to size and quality. They passed through it on a conveyor belt and at the end of this belt I would put them into the appropriate cartons. I had not idea what it meant to be a battery hen at that time. Good thing too, or my heart would have broken into a million pieces.
Thankfully these days we have all been made aware of the appalling conditions on battery farms and we have the option to buy free-range organic chicken.
I was the lucky recipient recently of a lovely free range organic roasting chicken from the good people at Abel and Cole. They offer both free range and free range organic poultry on their page. At Abel and Cole they take the welfare of their animals quite seriously, which is a good thing. They scour England to find only the very best.
My chicken arrived packed in ice in a returnable ice box and I have to say it looked quite lovely. I could hardly wait to cook it. I can say un-reservedly that this was one of the nicest roast chickens I have ever prepared. It was moist and juicy and had a wonderful flavour, and I felt good eating it because I knew in my heart that it had been a happy chicken in it's lifetime, and to me, well . . . happy chicken just tastes better!
I highly recommend Abel and Cole's chicken. They also offer organic meat products on their site as well. In fact I think you can get pretty much most of what you need on their page! If their chicken and vegetables are anything to go by, you can be pretty sure that everything is of the highest quality, but don't take my word for it. Why not try some out for yourself, and actually I am quite pleased to offer here this morning another giveaway. One lucky person who lives within their delivery area has the chance to win a free organic Vegetable Box. Make sure you check out your postal code on their page to see if they deliver to you and if they do, let me know in a comment at the end of this post and I will enter your name to receive one of their lovely boxes! I'll pick a lucky winner on Monday! Tell all your friends!
This is my favorite way to roast a chicken. It turns out moist and delicious each and every time.
*Perfect Roast Chicken*
I highly recommend free-range, organic chicken. All that running around in the farm yard is good for them and they taste better. A happy chicken is a tasty chicken!
1 X 1.75kg chicken
salt and freshly milled black pepper
30g of butter, softened
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped (no need to peel)
1 stick celery,roughly chopped
1 leek, white part only, chopped
1 sprig sage
1 bay leaf
Pre-heat the oven to 190*C/375*F. Remove any giblets from your chicken and save for another day. Wipe your chicken dry and then rub it all over with the softened butter and season it liberally inside and out with some salt and pepper.
Place the chopped vegetables in the bottom of a thick roasting tin with some olive oil. Place on the hob over medium heat and cook and stir with a wooden spoon, cooking for about 5 minutes to slightly colour the vegetables. Remove from the heat. Add the spring of sage and the bayleaf. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables and roast for about an hour and 15 minutes, or until the chicken tests done. (The leg bone should move easily in it's socket and the juices should run clear) Remove from the oven, place on a cutting board, and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes (lightly cover with some foil) before carving.
If you like you can add some chicken broth to the vegetables in the pan and place it over the burner and bring it to a boil. Allow to boil for several minutes before straining into a large jug. Discard any solids in the strainer and then skim off any fat from the juices in the jug. Return them to the pan and cook and simmer for a good 10 to 15 minutes, to reduce somewhat. Spoon these juices over the sliced chicken when you serve it. You can also thicken them with a bit of flour and water to make a thick gravy.
mmm . . . I can't wait to do something with the leftovers. Tune in tommorrow to see what I came up with!