On Sunday, I discovered myself heading back from the Livestrong Challenge with lots of morning to spare. I had made up a list of all of the local farmers markets and color coded them by day of the week to keep in the car for just this chance. I was interested in the Hillsdale Farmers Market, held at Wilson High School, as there is a pasture-fed chicken outfit, Kookoolan Farms, that sells at that market. I arrived just before their 10 am opening time, which would appear to be none too early. The market soon filled up with eager shoppers.
I was impressed with the number of produce booths and a couple of cheese booths. I would have bought a lot more but I only had a limited amount of cash. I started at the Kookoolan Farms booth and selected a small broiler hen from the ice chest. They also had medium sized hens and some breast-only portions and neck-only portions good for making chicken stock. I have rarely roasted a whole bird. Mom was raised on a chicken farm and did not enjoy cooking or eating chicken. But she usually would buy a whole fryer chicken and cut it into pieces herself. I was happy enough that the bird was fully prepared and basically ready to roast. I also bought a dozen eggs. Kookoolan Farms raises and hand-processes its own poultry, one of only four farms in Oregon licensed and inspected to do their own processing. In the summer, the poultry feed outside. This was exactly the sort of humanely raised poultry I was interested in. The farm is located in Yamhill, Oregon, just a hop skip and jump from my family’s stomping grounds. I finished my trip with a tamale from Salvador Molly’s booth and headed home to cook the bird.
I started by brining the bird in 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of sugar for four hours. My roasting didn’t go as well as I hoped. The grill thermometer doesn’t work well, so I think I was cooking it on an even lower temperature than I wanted to. It took about two hours to cook but finally the meat thermometer said it was at the safe temperature. I also roasted the beets I bought on Saturday and we had a nice salad. Altogether, it was the most completely local meal I’ve ever made. My husband thought the chicken tasted as good as European rotisserie chicken. I thought it was good, but I don’t think my roasting job was as good as it could have been. Mostly, my husband prefers cut-up chicken pieces, preferably boneless. Next time I’ll pay extra for the breast portions and then also get the bag of necks to use for making chicken stock.
The leftovers went into the crockpot to make chicken stock. This will be perfect as I plan to make spaetzle this weekend, which I boil in chicken broth.
Laura Dolson explains the difference between cage-free, free-range, and pasture-fed chicken. My grandfather’s chicken barn was cage-free. The chickens had roosts for egg laying, but they mostly milled around in a large barn. We grandkids didn’t go into the main part of the barn as the flying and pecking chickens were pretty intimidating.