roasted chicken + letting go of labels

this past summer marked the end of nearly 8 years as a vegetarian for me. i had been wrestling with and mulling over that decision for a while, going back an forth between the part of my identity as a vegetarian and my desire to focus more on whole, local foods instead of proteins that were processed and had lots of food miles. i've loved being a vegetarian for many reasons, and making major changes is really difficult, so i spent many months tossing around the idea of dropping the label of vegetarian without doing anything about it. the moment that marked the change was born out of hunger (not the visit to nearby Polyface Farms that i had envisioned). we were in the midst of our 3 weeks in between leases and couldn't really face another meal of quinoa, veggies, and scrambled eggs; so after a quick trip to the Organic Butcher and a rather lackluster baked chicken + veggie dinner, well, what am i ?!

am i a partial-vegetarian (like i was from age 12-21)? a whole-foodie? a conscientious eater? a locavore? i'm not quite sure where i fit (although for simplicity, i still identify as a vegetarian in many situations to make things more straightforward). i focus on eating healthy, whole foods that are primarily locally-sourced and now include pastured poultry and eggs. my food choices are impacted by my consideration of taste and enjoyment, health, the livelihood of farmers in my community, and the environmental impact of agriculture (petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides and oil used to transport food thousands of miles: no thank you). i'm not trying to be a food snob, rather someone who recognizes that my choices aren't made in a vacuum.

two weekends ago, i roasted a whole chicken, born + raised + slaughtered on the farm of our dear friends, the Lykoshes. they have a pretty incredible story about leaving their comfortable life in boulder, co, a couple of years ago (along with their 4 young boys) to follow God's call to start a farm in central va. they would be some of the first people to tell you how difficult farming is, but despite the challenges, they farm with integrity and passion. their chickens are fed soy-free feed and roam around their farm, living out the fullness of their chicken-hood. the Lykoshes. also, they taste damn good (or "beyond good" to use tim's words).

                                        i am {a little too} happy holding a raw chicken!

{Roasted Chicken Recipe}
* for a 3-4 lb whole chicken. total prep + roasting time = about 4 hours, mostly hands-off, leaving plenty of time to watch football with your husband + prepare the rest of your meal.

step 1. brine the chicken. {cook's illustrated has the sciency background + directions here}
 * in a very large pot, fill with 1 - 1.5 gallons of cold water. add 1 cup table salt + 1 cup sugar per gallon. stir vigorously until salt + sugar are dissolved.
* place the whole chicken in the brine solution, making sure it is completely submerged.
* put in the fridge to let the brine do it's thing {1-2 hours should be about right}
* call your mom to tell her you survived holding a raw chicken. and kinda liked it.

okay, i'm still a little wary of raw meat. 

step 2. the rub {adapted from here}
*combine: 2 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp paprika, 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, and 1/4 tsp ground black pepper.
* roughly chop a small-medium white onion.
* when the chicken is done brining, preheat oven to 450F.
* on a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet {apparently not a glass dish. mine cracked in half}, rub extra-virgin olive oil on the chicken, followed by the rub inside + out. stuff the onion inside the chicken.

step 3: the roast
* roast for about 1 hour, and let the bird sit for 15-20 minutes before carving.
* check the chicken after 25 minutes, and call your mom to get her opinion. follow her suggestion to make a foil "tent" if the spices are getting too brown or smoky. rotate the pan once. baste with juices, if you have a baster.
* ENJOY! {and then make sure to save the carcass to make stock!}

                                          {silly picture of my chicken-happy self}

katie anne

{if you're interested in learning more about food choices, eating locally, and the impact of industrial food systems on people and the environment - check out a couple of my favorite books: the omnivore's dilemma and in defense of food by michael pollan and animal, vegetable, miracle by barbara kingsolver, as well as my recent post about tomatoland}