Farmer's Whole Chicken Cacciatore
In this recipe I cooked a soup hen from Grove Ladder Farm. I used the entire bird, which included the head and the feet. Soup hen’s are older and because of their age the meat is tougher, so I cooked it in a 250F oven for three hours…low and slow (but you can cook it longer, see Note below). The head and feet add a richness in taste and texture, that you wouldn’t have otherwise, to the broth in the pan. When served with the cacciatore-style veggies cooked with vermouth it’s crazy good!
Here in the U.S. we throw away and waste so much perfectly edible produce and animal parts simply because they are misshapen, unsightly, or make us uncomfortable.
Fortunately, with the growing popularity of the nose-to-tail, farm-to-table, organic farming, and end food waste movements in the U.S., that is changing, and for the better. Better for our farms, the animals that we raise, the produce that we grow, the land that we use, the water that we drink, but ultimately, better for us and the generations that will come after us.
What I’ve learned from working with local farmers is that, regardless of whether they are growing produce or raising animals for food, they are passionate about what they do and the products they put their hearts and souls into growing. They don’t waste anything. To them every part can and should be used, it’s a way of life and worldview, one that I share.
Note: I cooked this soup hen in the oven to the point where the meat was tender and “just” started to come off the bone. I wanted to carve the hen into it’s individual parts and serve it that way with the cacciatore veggies. You can cook the hen another hour or two to where it’s literally falling off the bone, at which point you would, once it was cool enough to handle, pull the meat off the bones, and return it to the pan with the veggies to be served that way. Either way it’s delicious! (save the bones to make stock)
- 1 soup hen (from Grove Ladder Farm)
- 1 large yellow onion sliced lengthwise
- 6 Roma tomatoes quartered lengthwise
- 2 green bell peppers sliced lengthwise
- 1 lb white button mushrooms sliced
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup dry vermouth
- 3 tbsp chopped garlic
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme (for the cavity)
- 1 sprig of fresh oregano (for the cavity)
- 1 bay leaves (for the cavity)
- Kosher salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
Preparing the veggies:
- Peel the onion, slice the root end off, slice in half lengthwise, slice each half lengthwise into 1/2 inch wide strips or julienne, place into roasting pan.
- Wash the Roma tomatoes, slice in half lengthwise, then into quarters, place into the roasting pan.
- Wash the bell peppers, slice in half lengthwise, remove and discard the stem/core/seeds, slice each half lengthwise into 1/2 inch wide strips; add to the roasting pan.
- Wash the mushrooms, drain, slice into 1/2 inch wide strips; add to the roasting pan.
- Peel and chop the garlic, add one third (1 tbsp) to the roasting pan; set aside the rest.
- Wash and pat dry the oregano and thyme, strip and chop the leaves, discard the stem, add half the chopped herbs to the roasting pan; set aside the rest.
- Add the chicken stock, dry vermouth, salt, and black pepper to the roasting pan, stir to mix well; set aside.
Preparing the soup hen:
- Pre-heat the oven to 250F, place a rack on the second from the bottom level.
- Carefully rinse out and drain the cavity of the hen, season the cavity with salt and pepper, place 1 tbsp of the chopped garlic, the bay leaf, and the sprigs of thyme and oregano into the cavity.
- Pat the outside of the chicken dry with a paper towel, drizzle the oil over the chicken, sprinkle the salt, black pepper, and the rest of the chopped garlic and chopped herbs all over the chicken, rub well, place the seasoned hen on top of the veggies in the roasting pan with the neck off to one side, cover.
- Your farmer’s chicken cacciatore is ready for the oven.
- FOOD SAFETY TIP!
- Make sure to wash everything used in preparing raw chicken such as kitchen tools, cutting boards, containers, surfaces, and especially your hands in hot soapy water afterward to prevent cross-contamination.
- Also, I use a yellow cutting board just for poultry as an added precaution against cross-contamination.
- Place the covered roasting pan in the pre-heated oven and onto the rack at the second from the bottom level.
- Cook for 3 to 5 hours, occasionally basting the hen with the juices at the bottom of the pan.
- If you want to serve the chicken in its separate parts (with the bones) remove the hen after about 3 hours of cooking. It will be tender but still intact.
- If, on the other hand, you want to serve the hen with the bones removed cook it for another one to two hours until the meat falls off the bones.
- In either case allow the hen to cool just a bit after you remove it from the oven and before you begin to either carve it and serve with the veggies, or separate the meat from the bones and return the meat to the pan with the veggies. (Save the bones for stock btw.)
- Your farmer’s whole chicken cacciatore is ready!
Farmer’s Whole Chicken Cacciatore
This is part of a series of posts that are a collaboration between myself and Grove Ladder Farm, a small, family-run farm in Sarasota, Florida that specializes in pasture-raised, non-GMO, soy-free poultry for meat and eggs. I created recipes/dishes that featured their various products in order to provide them with photographs to use in their online and print marketing materials. The photos are used with their permission.