Now this is what I am talking about. Insanely tender chicken and just crazy smoky juicy. From a bird that lived a healthy life, free of hormones, antibiotics, pesticide-laden feed, and, most importantly, free of the nightmares of a factory farm. This is precisely what our food should be and how we should live. And yeah, I’ll say it …the way God intended.
You guys! Do you know how it feels to not eat the crap? It feels great – not like super obvious great, but a generally good feeling great kinda feeling. My last post for my Homemade Sports Drink, I told you that I was totally cracking down on our diets at home and cutting all the junk – and by junk, I mean everything artificial, everything pesticide, everything unnatural – which, by the way, includes a lot of things labeled “all natural” …cuz they are not. Or if they are labeled as natural, they could be anything like beetle butt guts or whatever. I am just not having it anymore. And it feels really so good.
How many times have I read “visit your local farm” and bla-ba-dee-bla. Bla bla community shared agriculture bla bla. And I was always, “Yeahhh whatever. Right after I schmere yogurt on my face and call it a facial. While sipping my kefir”. ..I just don’t do this stuff.
But then, I watched the documentary Food, Inc. And then, I started to research. And what I learned made me angry. Furious, actually. I knew livestock did not live great lives, but I had no idea how they all live absolutely horrendous lives. The term is “factory farm” and it is just disgusting. …and I do not want to eat food from animals that lived in those conditions and under that stress. And I do not want to eat the subsidized corn and soy grown to provide cheap feed for these animals.
But at the same time, I need strategy because eating organic will break the bank. Or at least our bank account.
Enter …the local farm.
So, strategy number 1 is to balance the expensive with the less expensive. This one is easy: Meat is expensive. So don’t always eat meat. Spring for a couple meals a week, but then eat vegetarian the rest of the time. Like this organic happy chicken, which I made on a Sunday and it provided enough meat for that dinner and lunches for us for half the week. Like the pound of wild boar sausage that gave us Saturday dinner and Sunday brunch. So that is two dinners and three lunches and a brunch with meat for the week, then the rest will be vegetarian (and far cheaper), with maybe a can of tuna thrown in. Then otherwise, think beans. Think lentils. They are your nutritious, cheap friends.
Strategy number 2 is do not buy organic everything. Educate. Prioritize. Not everything has to be organic. Much produce, especially anything with a peel that is discarded like citrus, avocados, onions, and bananas, do not retain pesticides as much so getting regular varieties is fine. Same with dried spices – don’t bother with organic. But those produce that we eat the skins – apples, peaches, nectarines, grapes, potatoes, leafy greens, and berries – for these, it is worth springing for organic. And meat and dairy. I recently ran out of olive oil, and in deciding what I should replace it with (after also learning that most olive oils are imposters mixed with canola oil), I just went with a 100% extra virgin from a local shop, but not organic because not many pesticides are used on olive trees. Just gotta prioritize.
Strategy number 3 is to go to the source. The produce at the local farm was about the same cost as regular non-organic produce at our super market. Because we got it right from the farm, and a bunch of extra costs are cut out. It made the organic afforable. I am a food blogger – my grocery bill is already kinda ridiculous. But at least I know now that I can feed my family so much better, without spending more.
Strategy number 4 is to grow it yourself when you can. Grow your own herbs. It is so easy to grow herbs, even in just a pot. If you have any yard at all, start a garden. It does not have to be extravagant – or even prolific – but it can augment your diet. Nothing tastes better than food you grew yourself. And working on a garden is cheaper than seeing a therapist. Garden zen rocks. Seriously. ..and not only are we now expanding our garden to have two new, large raised beds, we are talking chickens. Yep, I want chickens. For eggs. So build a coop and run we will, and chickens we will have. Because it is just so awesome to know where your food came from, especially when it came from your own yard.
And my last tid-bit today, strategy number 5, is to make it yourself when you can. I am not saying to make your own bread and butter and errything. I googled “make homemade cheese” the other day and after looking at a blog post with like a hundred photos of the process, I dropped the idea straight away. …ain’t happening. But I am saying make your own hummus. Make your own yogurt dip. Use veggies and organic seed crackers as dippers. It is in those in-between places – snacks and drizzles and such – that the real damage is done I think. This is where we were the most guilty – the extras undo all the good we do. Like condiments. Toss them all. Make them all (except mustard, buy that one). Make your own barbeque sauce. Make your own salad dressings. These things are easy to make and in doing so, all the crap – preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, soy this, and soy that – is left behind.
So now, enter our bird.
This chicken. This was a complete surprise. First, it was built differently with smaller breasts. I expected this because the major companies have bred their chickens to have freakishly large breasts – so big that, once grown, the chickens can hardly walk, it’s gross (by the way, remember when Oprah was sued by cow people when she criticized? Yeah, I’m not rolling those dice of calling out specific companies …but you know who they are) This bird had proportional breasts and huge honking awesome thighs and drumsticks. Perfect. ..because I do not like white meat anyway.
And then this chicken was just so juicy! I know the beer in the rear helped, but this was just the juiciest, most tender chicken I could have ever dreamed of.
So here it is kids. Make the change. Read, research, and realize the truth about what is fed to us. And then make just a couple changes, and smart choices, to fix it. And be healthy. With a smokin’ bad-ass bird like this.
Applewood Smoked Organic, Free-Range Chicken
- 1 organic free-range chicken
- 1/2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 Tbs Old Bay seasoning
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs
- kosher salt
- fresh cracked pepper
- 1 can of beer
- applewood chips for smoking
Heat up your smoker according to package directions.
Meanwhile, rinse your bird and pat dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, combine the Old Bay, olive oil, and herbs to make a paste. Spread over the whole bird. Season the inside and outside of the bird with salt and pepper.
Stand the bird up and put onto the can of beer (pour off - or drink - ~1/4 of the beer from the can first). Position the legs to help the bird stay up. Insert a temperature probe to moniter cooking into a breast but not touching bone.
Put in the smoker and smoke 2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 160F. Remove to rest 10 minutes, then carve and serve.
For this occasion, I used a mix of rosemary, oregano, thyme, and chives from my garden. Just use what you have on hand. If you have to buy, I especially recommend rosemary and fresh oregano for this recipe.