Learn to Make 3 Farm-fresh, family meals from Just 1
Pastured Chicken! (+recipes & Inspiration from The Farm!)

Oh no!
Why is my roasted pastured chicken tough and dry?!?

roast chicken cropped.jpg

I was so excited. I had been wanting to switch to pastured chicken and finally I'd found a farmer I trusted.

I bought a chest freezer and 25 chickens. I had read so much about pastured chicken’s amazing flavor and health benefits. I couldn’t wait to try one.

Dreaming of the delicious meal ahead, I seasoned one of the chickens.

Lime. Garlic. Cilantro.

As the chicken roasted in the oven, I eagerly watched it turn a luscious golden-red color

We sat down to the table, took a bite, and man, that bird was NOT GOOD.

The meat was - well - tough. And kinda dry too! It was actually hard to chew.

I felt silly. And confused. My mother taught me to cooking basics when I was super young. And I was cooking family dinners by 8 years old. I was NOT an inexperienced cook. Why was my roast chicken a total flop???

But there was the ray of hope - the bird was tough, but the flavor was truly amazing. Hands down, the best tasting chicken I’d ever had.

So I embraced the challenge  - how could I keep the flavor, enhance the moistness and lose the toughness?  

I started experimenting. First, how did pastured chicken do in wet heat (braising, curries, stews)?

Turned out that, in wet heat,  the pastured chicken beat grocery store chicken, hands down. The pastured chicken was tender and flavorful while still holding its shape. In those same recipes, the  grocery store stuff was often mushy and oily.

That was my “aha” moment. Pastured birds have way, way less fat. In fact, most will have no excess fat at all.

No wonder, right? Pastured chickens run around on grass all day eating amazing stuff. Of course they have way more muscle and way less fat than grocery store chickens . Those chickens grow up confined and crowded into barns!  

When I had been roasting grocery store birds, I had been doing everything possible to render as much fat out of the chicken.

With the pastured chicken, I needed the roasting process to retain as much fat as possible in the chicken! 

In the end, this realization led me to 2 different methods for roasting whole pastured chicken:

  1. Either, roast the chicken low and slow.

  2. Or, roast the chicken hot and fast.

I love both methods but they do have 2 slightly different results.

The slow method gives you fall-off the bone tender meat and skin that is decently crisp. My husband loves this method.

With the faster method, the meat will not be quite as tender but the skin will be extra crispy. This one is my kids’ favorite.

So below I’ve included the technique I’ve been using for the “low and slow” method. Later in the month, I’ll give you some “hot and fast” options too.

But, in the meantime, I would love to hear what you’ve tried in your  home. In the comments, let me know! Do you have the same toughness problem I had? If so, what have you done? Has it worked?

I’d especially love to hear those cases where cooking pastured chicken is not working for you. Let’s solve that problem together!