Engagement Chicken

by | Jan 20, 2020 | Food & Wine

With the new year well underway, many diets some of us started as part of a new year’s resolution are gone as well. Certainly, there is no shortage of new diet trends this year. But there is one thing that remained the same. Backed up by hundreds of studies, leading scientists, nutritionists and doctors continue to recommend the Mediterranean diet as the healthier way to eat.

The Mediterranean diet is more of a guideline on how to eat. They recommend a good mix of vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and limiting refined sugar and processed food. When it comes to meat, they recommend seafood and high quality meats such as pasture raised poultry and limited amounts of grass-fed beef.
But in a world where plant based burgers (itself a highly-processed food) are all the rage, quality meat is not hard to find. At the Old Town Newhall Farmers Market, we are thrilled to host Harvest Gathering Farm from Ventura. While they carry, grass fed beef from central California, they specialize in pasture raised chicken, pork, turkey and duck. All of the latter are raised in orchards and on farms in Ojai.

A dream of owner Wendy Marchant Kammermann, she set out to produce meat the old-fashioned way. The animals live in open fields and are allowed to forage for food. Their diets are supplemented with feed free from GMO’s, corn and soy. The animals are moved around the farm periodically.
Managing animals in this manner is called regenerative agriculture as the animals help enrich and repair the soil. Recent studies including one from Michigan State University are finding that animals raised in this manner are actually helping the environment, including reducing carbon in the atmosphere.
Meat raised like this costs more because it is more expensive to produce. But, the meat also tastes better and just can’t be compared to animals raised in a giant commercial feed lot. So, when we cook one of their chickens, we like to keep the recipe simple to highlight the great taste and quality of the meat.
This recipe is a classic called Engagement Chicken. Allegedly, several women made this recipe for their significant others who promptly proposed after eating it. We like it for the simplicity and flexibility. Feel free to add whatever herbs and spices you want or even lemon slices under the skin.
• 3 Lemons
• Salt
• Pepper
• Fresh herbs and spices
• Whole Chicken

We recommend spatchcocking the chicken. Essentially the chicken is butterflied to cook more evenly. A simple web search will yield plenty of how-to videos. Pour the juice of two lemons over all sides of the chicken. Use the remaining lemon for garnish or place thin slices under the skin. Add salt, pepper and herbs/spices as desired.
Bake the chicken in a 500-degree oven until a quality instant-read thermometer registers 150 at the thickest part of the breast (near the bone) and 175 at the joint between the thigh and body. The high oven heat will produce crispy skin but can be turned down to 400 degrees if the chicken begins to darken too quickly.
Remove from oven when the above temperatures are reached (about 45 minutes). Pour any pan juices over the chicken and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Carve and serve.
The Old Town Newhall Farmers Market is a certified farmers’ market bringing Santa Clarita true farm direct produce and the finest food products available in Santa Clarita. It operates year-round, every Saturday from 8:30am until 1:00pm. It is located in the parking lot of the Old Town Newhall Library at 24500 Main Street in Newhall.


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