Old Time Heritage Chicken is very different than the chickens found in the grocery. You will be hard pressed to find a chicken that is harvested at an age older than 6 to 8 weeks in the grocery stores (or over 8 to 10 weeks on most local farms) while Old Time chickens are harvested at a minimum of 14 weeks of age (just like chicken used to be)! The flavor and texture of the meat changes with the maturity of the animal is harvested - with the most flavorful meats being found with those harvested at an older age. Old Time Chickens TASTE LIKE CHICKEN and do not need much seasoning to make them flavorful and delicious!
Julia Childs created a show on the "classic" definitions of culinary poultry and how harvesting age relates to cooking methods and culinary uses. The definitions have changed in recent years to accommodate the fast growing commercial chickens and can create problems when using commercial chicken in Grandma's recipe or using yesteryear's chicken in today's recipe - the flavor and texture are not the same at all! Today's federal poultry classifications are almost half the age of the bird when harvested vs standards from as recent as 2003. Julia's explanation of how the tip of the breastbone is more solid as the bird gets older is a sure way to determine if a chicken over a couple pounds is truly Heritage or not (sadly, some are misusing the term "Heritage" to market commercial type poultry without understanding the definition or culinary ramifications!). The cartilage on the tip of a Heritage roasting chicken breastbone should not be more than an inch long!
I generally just put a little sea salt on our Old Time chickens and may put some butter on the skin. Most of the time, I use a covered roaster (like Grandma used!) in a 325 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes per pound & use a remote digital thermometer in the thigh to let me know when it reaches 165 degrees. An easy alternative is to put the bird in a crockpot on low for 8-10 hours or so. I generally put a little water on the bottom of the roaster or crockpot and often use a bed of carrots, celery and/or onions to elevate the bird a little out of the water.
We use the roasted chicken as a meal for day one (reserving as many bones as we can for stock). We pick the meat off the carcass and use the leftover chicken for a second meal in a baked casserole, potpies, fried rice, chicken sandwiches, or other recipe using cooked chicken. Our third meal (or more) from the very same chicken is from the broth made with the bones. After the original meal with the roasted chicken and the meat is picked off the bones, the extra skin, bones, neck and fat all are all placed in a crock pot with water to cover and cooked on low for 24-48 hours to make bone broth or stock. You can use it in any recipe calling for broth/stock.
Julia Child’s Roasting Chicken video link: https://youtu.be/T7dLXEc9tZM
PS … We have "good" sanitation laws to protect consumers in our state today and Old Time Farm is careful to do our best to adhere to them! Our application to harvest our poultry on farm has been submitted to the state and we are waiting. In the mean time, we drive 2 1/2 hours to a USDA processor for frozen chicken or take pre-orders for live birds to be harvested for you at our local processor.
Old Time Farm