Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Simple Whole Roasted Organic Chicken with Garlic & Herbs

We like to roast a whole, organic chicken on occasion for family meals. In the wintertime I will serve it with sautéed winter greens, such as kale and collards, a few spoonfuls of raw sauerkraut or cultured vegetables, and roasted root vegetables. In the springtime, I like to serve it with a light quinoa radish salad with fresh parsley, lemon, and chopped sorrel or napa cabbage. The next day I pull the meat off the bone and use it to make chicken salad, chicken pot pie, or toss it into soup.

So nothing goes to waste, I put the bones and skin into a stockpot along with a chopped onion, celery, carrot, garlic, peppercorns, fresh herbs, a piece of kombu, and a little cider vinegar; cover with water, and simmer for about 6 hours. This creates the most wonderful, nutritious, healing soup stock. You can freeze it in quart jars and use it everywhere stock or broth is called for in a recipe.

We always use organic chicken, but prefer to use organic chicken that is also local and pastured. What's the difference? Well, organic chickens can still be mass produced in large open hen houses. They are fed an organic grain feed and sometimes have access to the outdoors. Non-organic chickens are generally raised in cramped quarters and fed non-organic grains, which are most likely genetically engineered. (I won't even get into antibiotic use here). Pastured chickens can be ordered online but usually you will be able to find a farmer who sells them locally. We have quite a few around us, in fact you can find them in the frozen section of our local food co-op and health food store. Pastured chickens are usually fed some organic grain but also eat a diet rich in vegetable scraps, bugs, grasses, and moss creating a healthy balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fats. They also have plenty of fresh air, sunshine, and space to move.

Whole Roasted Organic Chicken

I like to sprinkle the chicken with plenty of unrefined coarse sea salt before baking. This gives the meat a ton of flavor. You won't be consuming all of the salt unless you eat the skin, so don't worry about putting too much on. Sometimes I sprinkle on 1 to 2 tablespoons of dried poultry herbs if fresh herbs are unavailable. Right now I have plenty of herbs growing in my little kitchen herb garden so I used chives, marjoram, and thyme in what you see pictured here. I love adding whole garlic cloves to a roasting chicken. The garlic cooks in its own skin, and when the chicken is done, I remove the whole garlic cloves and serve them in a small bowl that gets passed around. You can squish the roasted garlic out of its skin and spread it onto your chicken slices.

one 3 to 4-pound organic chicken
1/2 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 whole heads garlic
handful of fresh herbs
coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil or organic butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Set out a 9 x 13-inch glass pan or ceramic roasting dish.

Rinse the chicken with cold water; place into the pan. Partially stuff the cavity of the chicken with the chopped onion and celery. Spread the remaining around the chicken on the bottom of the pan. Place the herbs around the chicken. Break up the heads of garlic into separate cloves; place them around the chicken.

Generously sprinkle the whole chicken with coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle with olive oil or dot with butter. Add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of water to the bottom of the pan.

Place into the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 450 degrees to seal in the juices, then reduce heat to 325 degrees F and cook for approximately 1 1/2 more hours. You can check for doneness by pulling away the thigh, if the juices run clear the chicken is done. Some people also like to use a meat thermometer. I never do, but if so, you will want it to read 180 degrees in the thickest part of the breast or thigh. Remove the chicken from the pan (I usually use 2 spatulas to do this) and place it onto a plate or cutting board. Let it rest for about 10 minutes before cutting into it. This allows the juices to go back into the meat. Carve with a sharp knife and serve. You can use the pan juices to make Gluten-Free Gravy or save it and add it to your simmering stock the next day. Most of the gut-healing gelatin is released into the pan juices so make sure not to waste it. Source: www.NourishingMeals.com. 

More Nourishing Main Dish Recipes:
Baked Salmon with Garlic Greens
Fish Tacos
Fresh Vegetable Curry

About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. Sounds delicious! I just bought a whole pastured chicken and am going to make this tomorrow. I would love your recipe for chicken pot pie.

  2. I just roasted my first whole chicken this weekend. If only this post had been written a few days earlier. :) Luckily my mom knows everything! I put it in a square glass baking dish as I don't own a roasting pan. I turned it into chicken soup. Yum!

  3. So excited I have ordered truely free range organic chicken from my niece -pastured, no corn, wheat, or soy feed they will be ready next month - this looks so delicious I will definitely be making it!

  4. This looks delicious! I love baked chicken as a family meal - always a favorite at my home. I also really like the addition of the garlic and all of the fresh herbs. Thanks for the info about pastured chickens -that was new information to me.

  5. My favorite!!! My dad used to cook it almost the same way, but he would bake it in a brown paper bag. That reminds me to ask him how he did it.

  6. Such a simple and perfect meal. My dad also taught me to check if the liquid comes out clear. :)


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