Finally, I am cradled in the chirps, sun and breezes of Fall. This week was a turning point for Ohio, and suddenly we are positively bathing in fading trees, cold noses and endearingly blue skies. I love everything about this season: the brilliant, bright days to the drizzly ones with the fast-moving clouds. I love the apples, the comfort, the blankets, the socks, the tea, the endless hot coffee, the hills, the holidays… I even love people who love Fall, just the tiniest bit more.
Some of you know me as a vegan. This has changed. More on that later. The point is… I roasted my first chicken last night!
The West Side Market in Ohio City has become a place of mine. I love realizing that I’ve purchased groceries only from local farmers in the past week. It’s the little things… but truly, the closeness, the smallness, the trustworthiness that accompanies buying local is very special. It’s so good to promote the places we actually are. These are our homes!
I tried to look casual as I approached the Amish Poultry stand inside the vast, stone, winding marketplace. The truth is: I walked in and out of the market three times before actually approaching the chicken. I was a vegan for both health-supporting and moral reasons, so some dregs of guilt were pulling at me. To keep it simple, I started eating small birds and fish again after intense cravings (including in dreams) started cropping up with an alarming frequency. I feel so much better now, more fortified and grounded- and I come down with colds less often. Make of that what you will. Being a vegan (especially a mostly-raw, health-conscious vegan) is a major trip. There were days I felt I might float away.
Health, I think, is simply caring. Health is tuning into what truly makes you feel good. I feel the best when I eat consciously by paying attention to cravings, food sourcing and natural agriculture. I’m slipping into enjoying the seasonal foods this land has to offer. There is bounty, I’m telling you. Again: it’s good to be in Ohio in Autumn.
This chicken is badass. Yes, one word. I currently live by myself in a little apartment, and was absolutely making sounds of great… appreciation… on first taste. Meat still has an element of excitement for me. I must be an animal, or something.
You need only a few things.
a small fryer chicken (preferably free-range, fed an organic diet)
your favorite all-purpose seasoning*
one clove raw garlic
*I used Trader Joe’s “Everyday Seasoning” which is a concoction involving mustard seeds, garlic, onion and cayenne. You could also chop up some thyme or rosemary and throw it into the mix. Oh, yes, you could.
Preheat your oven to 480* F. Pat the chicken dry and set in a roasting pan- any sort of baking dish it will fit in. In a small glass, mix about 1/3 cup of olive oil, 2 tbsp ghee, sea salt, pepper, and seasoning to taste. Crush and chop your fresh garlic, add to the glass and stir the rub until it’s well combined. Pour a small amount inside the cavity of your chicken and make sure it gets all over in there. Use the rest of the rub to cover the outside of your chicken, really getting it into every nook and cranny.
Put your seasoned chicken into the oven and don’t open the door for at least 45 minutes! Yes, it will sputter and tempt you, but let it do it’s thing for a while before you test for doneness.
After 45 minutes had passed, I chopped some purple (or “new”) potatoes and added them to the dish with my chicken. I stirred them around to make sure they were coated in the juices and butter from the roasting, then reduced the heat to 350* F and cooked for 15 more minutes. After that, I threw in some red kale stems I had left over from a salad and cooked the whole pan for 10 more minutes until the kale was crispy, the potatoes were soft, and the chicken was crisp and juicy.
Serve this chicken with whatever you wish… but I highly recommend a light, raw salad of greens to complement the earthiness of the meat and to add some nice raw enzymes, vitamins and antioxidants to the plate. I had some garlicky quinoa and brown rice with mine, as well… and a glass of my favorite Bully Hill red wine.
Note: Save your chicken bones! Eating animals (or really, anything) should not be taken for granted; we can use every part! One you’ve carved your chicken, boil a pot of water and put the left over bones inside with a couple cloves of garlic, knobs of ginger, sea salt and turmeric. Let the pot boil and then reduce to a simmer for as long as possible… 8 hours being the maximum amount of time. Voila- you have a healing chicken (or “bone”) broth with which to make soup the rest of the week.