Monday, February 7, 2011

Free Roasted Chicken and Rice

It struck me again as I was picking the meat apart from the bones on the chickens was free.

Only because we were willing (and knew how) to do the work was it free.

This summer someone made a "donation" of 7 chickens to our local substance abuse place that has a thrift store and grows potatoes for the fellows that live there. They don't do chickens. Our friend found out about these chickens and he and some others were offered them for free, as in PLEASE TAKE THESE THINGS! He called us knowing that we have chickens. 7 free chickens? What kind? How old? Who knows? Who cares?

Turns out there were 3 roosters and 4 pullets (girl chickens that haven't started laying yet, they are usually pretty expensive to buy) crammed into a little dog crate with no food or water and had been left in the sun in their parking lot all day. Needless to say the critters were scared and my hens didn't really help them to feel welcome. They had some pecking order fights, and boy are those fun to watch. Hubby decided that night that he was not going to keep extra roosters, they just want to constantly fight with each other, so the next day he butchered them and put them into the freezer.

I realized then as I did again tonight that the only reason we got the 3 free chickens in our freezer and now 4 great laying hens was because not many people actually have a set up for chickens or are willing to butcher them. It's really easy, it's really rewarding, and it's really tasty. Best of all, it can be free.

Basic Roasted Rooster: prep 15 minutes, bake 2-8 hours

One or two whole roosters or hens or meat chickens, depending on how many people to feed and how big your chickens are. I always cook mine frozen for about half the day, so they thaw and cook. If cooking them thawed they won't need as long.
2 cups rice
4 cups water
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

In a Dutch Oven (preferred, can use another baking dish with a cover, if no cover use a turkey bag or foil-be sure it is on tight! it has to be covered so it won't dry out) oil the bottom of your dish or spray with PAM or something similar. Add your rice and your water. I never use my crock pot for this because I adore my dutch oven, BUT I have a feeling that a crock pot would work perfectly for this recipe. A great one to cook on low all day long. Leave me feedback if you try that please.

If using frozen chickens, like I typically do, thaw them enough to get them out of the bags then place them on top of the rice. Rub olive oil on them and season them with salt and pepper. Once with a rooster I omitted the rice and just poured barbeque sauce over them, that was delicious. (I have read that you're supposed to thaw chickens first, etc, but I have cooked them this way for a couple years and we usually eat about 20 whole chickens per year.)

Cover your pot with a lid, I have an 8 quart dutch oven I can fit in one large or 2 small chickens into and still cover it.

Bake at 300 degrees for about 3 or 4 hours.

This particular dish is my summer favorite, I put it in the oven before I go outside to work and know dinner will be ready when ever I decide to come in or hubby finally makes me quit working. I have baked these from as little as 3 hours to as long as 6 in the dutch oven. The meat WILL fall of the bone, but I like it that way. Makes it easier to pick the meat off later when it's time for clean up.

Roosters and hens over a year old are stringer than a store bought or a 6-8 week old meat chicken that you can raise for meat. But their flavor is superior. This is my easy way to bake all my chickens and any time I change the recipe (different spices, adding lentils to the rice, etc) hubby complains. My family is known for liking "plain food" so just FYI.

I typically get 2 meals out of this, my second meal is chicken fried rice. I use the chicken (obviously) and the left over rice (obviously) and some of the hens eggs, some lettuce or spinach from the garden. What a great "homestead" meal!
It's easy to get free meat if you know how to butcher a chicken.

Large bowl of chicken (rooster), this is after we had roasted it and had our fill... Half of it will go back into the broth with the noodles I made today for a pot of chicken noodle soup.


Joe Schmuck said...

I know we don't live in Macedonia, but: Слобода или Смрт ("freedom or death").

AKmamaOf6 said...

Why do we have to be from Macedonia? Russian writer show off...