Friday, September 7, 2012

Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

Roasted chicken? Is she for real? Yes, I am for real. You may remember my post over 4 months ago explaining the reasons why I don't eat meat. Those reasons still hold true in my mind, but a significant change has happened. To go along with this new chapter in my life, I have also decided to incorporate some meat back in my diet, but not just any meat. The reasons for this are based on a lot of research I have been doing on the healthfulness of animal products when raised traditionally. I will save those details for another post, as I think it will make a lovely post on it's own, full of information and something I really want to share. For now, I want to share how I went about acquiring this chicken which considering my stance of animal products, you bet did not come from the local grocery store; and of course also share a recipe.

Here is excerpt from a previous blog post:

"[My lack of eating animal products] will inevitably shift again one day, maybe even introducing meat back into my life when I have the means to buy healthy meat directly from a farmer for special occasions (I'll have to stop being a student first). But only time will tell."

You guessed it, I bought this chicken direct from a farmer! One of the reasons I was so excited to move to Guelph was because of the local food community here. Not only is this town surrounded by farms but the city is probably one of the best in Ontario for being able to access local, sustainable and organic foods. Upon securing housing in Guelph I immediately started looking for local food sources. A simple search for Guelph CSAs eventually led me to the humble site for Magda Farms.

At Magda Farm, they use a grazing system where the chickens are moved twice a day to have access to fresh pasture, and follow the movement of the beef cattle. The waste of the chickens is then added back into the earth and feeds the grazing vegetation. This is a cyclical system that prevents most of the environmental  problems that have resulted from factory farming. This farm is about a 15-20 minute drive from our house, so you can't get more local than that! In addition, the slaughter of the animals is done at a nearby family run processing plant with the highest ethical standards. In my mind, you can't get more sustainable that this, unless you go and hunt the bird yourself, which I am just not cut out for.

We purchased two chickens in quarters, skin-on bone-in, at $3.59 a pound. That is more than what you pay at the grocery store but my money is going directly to the farmer, and is purchasing healthier meat, not fattened with grain, or pumped full of antibiotics and water solutions. This meat will also last a while for us. I am incorporating meat, not becoming a carnivore, so once a week or two our dinner will include some pastured chicken. This order, combined with another order we will receive in October, will probably last us until the end of November at least.

For our first meal, I simply roasted a leg piece of a quarter chicken with some root vegetables and herbs. I wanted to be able to really taste the flavour of the meat itself, so I could taste the difference from the conventional chicken in my memories.  And boy, did I taste the difference.

Roasted Chicken with Vegetables
Serves 2-3

chicken (I used about 1.5-2 lb leg quarter, skin on. You could just as well roast a whole chicken here, adjusting cooking times accordingly)
1 onion
4-5 carrots, cut into 1 inch chunks
pint of string green beans, stemmed and halved
5 garlic cloves
olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Chop veggies and arrange in a roasting pan. Toss in olive oil, and season with S+P and rosemary to taste.
3. Clear a bit of pan in the centre and place the chicken meaty side up. 

I may have forgotten to take an "after roasting" photo...
4. Roast for 20 minutes uncovered.
5. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.
6. Remove cover and continue to cook until skin has darkened and the chicken is properly cooked (about 10-15 min).
7. Allow to rest for about 10-15 minutes until serving.

The chicken was magnificent. It was delicious and unlike any other chicken I have had in the past. It was moist, with lots of dark meat, and I swear there were muscles on that leg I had never seen on a conventionally raised bird before. The juices that were released from the meat mixed with the vegetables resulted in a wonderful broth that went well with some rye sourdough bread.  I look forward to the next meal incorporating this pastured chicken. To get the most out of the bird, I saved the bones, stowed away in the freezer, until I have more to make some broth.

The majority of the recipes I will share on this blog will still be vegetarian, as that is still how I choose to eat on a regular basis and when I am outside of my home. I think this arrangement fits well with my previous thoughts of not classifying a diet, because there are always exceptions. For me, it is my pastured meat from Magda Farms.


  1. Oh I am so jealous! I'm not sure whether I'd eat meat if I had this option, but I'm so glad you do either way. The price isn't too bad!

  2. Lauren and I have been trying to source a local, organic chicken farmer here in Kingston-it's a lot harder than we had it in Guelph! We're "almost" full-time vegetarians, we eat some natural and organic meats here and there but not very often at all. We used to go to Rowe Farms on Gordon and Kortright, they don't sell organic products but that's mostly due to the extremely high price of certification, most small-scale farmers can't afford it but will raise their animals using organic practices. "Grassroots" seems to be a term a lot of farmers use to describe organically raised but not certified products. Everything is pretty local there too-they put the map up on the wall to prove it. It's only 5 minutes away from the university and you can get a lot of specialty cuts of meat, some local produce and organic dairy products. Not the same as visiting the farm itself but a convenient alternative when you're too busy (school seems to do that to a person). Hope you're enjoying Guelph! I miss it and you dearly. Take care and let's visit next time I'm in town!

    - Mary

    1. So nice to hear from you Mary!! Thanks for the tip on Rowe Farm's, I'll have to check it out. I haven't heard about the term 'Grassroots' but I guess you could call the Magda Farms chicken grassroots as it isn't certified, but is raised with organic practices. I hope everything is well with you, I'd love to hear what you are up to these days in Kingston!