A pastured bird at the center of the Thanksgiving table is a good reason to feel blessed this holiday season. And a six-pound chicken neatly fits the needs of a smaller family. Unlike most meat birds, these are raised largely outdoors, in sunshine, with a chance to forage naturally on grass and insects. They often live longer and more energetically, and need a low and slow cooking method to tenderize. The secret from poultry seller Lindsey Mayerfeld’s sister-in-law, Tzippy, is to cover the pan tightly with foil or, if you have it, use a roasting pan with its own cover. You’re trading in crispy skin but you’re getting the tender, full-flavored meat of a pastured bird. If this is Thanksgiving fare, consider subbing thyme, sage, and rosemary for the garlic, cumin, and coriander.
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- ½ cup water
- 1 6-pound koshered pastured chicken, whole and completely thawed
- 1 teaspoon each of minced fresh garlic, salt, ground cumin, ground coriander, and paprika
- 1 lemon, cut in half
Turn oven temporarily to 400°. Place chopped vegetables in bottom of a pot. Add water. Squeeze lemon over completely thawed chicken, then tuck lemon halves into chicken cavity. Rub chicken all over with seasonings. Place in pot and cover tightly with heavy-duty foil and a lid, if you have one. Turn oven down to 200°. Cook 8–10 hours or until meat grain is easily separated with a fork. Serve with pan juices strained and skimmed of fat, or make gravy.
Chef ‘s note: If you want a crispier skin, turn oven back up to 425°. Bake for 5 minutes. Make sure internal temperature of chicken is 165° before serving.