For very tender chicken that is still nicely browned, try this recipe. The chicken is slowly roasted in a 250 degree F. oven. If you have a pyrex baking dish with a glass lid, the glass lid keeps the moisture in but allows browning of the skin. Otherwise, you can use a regular baking pan and baste as necessary. Another option that yields meat broth also is to cook the chicken on the stovetop in a soup pot—use the same ingredients but follow the directions at the bottom of the page*. The bonus when you cook a whole chicken is that nourishing mineral/gelatin-rich bone broth can be made after the meat is removed. If the chicken was a pasture-raised healthy bird, the fat that is in the broth will be healthy fat and should not be skimmed off.
1 whole chicken preferably pasture-raised, completely thawed and rinsed well
6 or so 8-inch long rosemary sprigs
1 medium onion, quartered
3 cloves of garlic
1 stalk celery, cut in 4- inch long pieces
freshly-ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. red wine or balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 250 degree F. Oil the bottom of the baking dish with a Tbsp. of olive oil. Place chicken in the dish and rub all over with a little of this olive oil. If organs came with the chicken, they can be placed in the bottom of the dish. Stuff the rosemary sprigs, onion pieces, garlic cloves, and celery pieces into the cavity of the chicken. Spoon into the cavity the wine or vinegar. Season skin with salt and pepper. Roast for 4-6 hours until internal temperature is greater than 165 degrees F, the chicken is nicely browned, and the meat falls off the bones. Lift the chicken out carefully and place on a serving dish. Discard the vegetables and herbs inside but do not discard any chicken parts (bones, skin or organs) as they will be used for the bone broth. Save the juice in the bottom of the baking dish (which is called meat broth) for serving over the chicken or keep it to use as stock for soups.
To make the bone broth, add all the bones, leftover skin, and all the scraps that are leftover from the chicken. Add plenty of water to cover. It is optional but to make the broth more flavorful you can add 1 celery stalk and more garlic and onion, plus more rosemary sprigs. Bring almost to a boil and reduce heat immediately to a slow simmer. (Do not boil the broth for the best flavor.) Add 2 Tbsp. of wine or balsamic vinegar. Cover but leave the lid opened a crack. Can be left overnight on very low heat but should simmer at least 8 hours to extract minerals from the bones. Strain the broth and discard the chicken parts, and vegetables. Refrigerate or freeze the broth—pint sized plastic containers work well. The broth will last about 1 week in the refrigerator. Use in soups, stews, gravies, or for cooking grains.
*For stovetop cooking, place the chicken and all other ingredients except the wine or vinegar in a soup pot. Add just enough water to cover the chicken. Bring to a boil and immediately lower heat to maintain a simmer. Cover with the lid cracked a little. Check periodically to be sure it’s not boiling but just simmering, and add a little water if necessary to keep the chicken covered. After about 3 hours the meat should be falling off the bones. Check with a thermometer and be sure the temperature of the meat is over 165 degrees F. Remove the chicken to a serving plate. Strain and save the cooking water (discard the vegetables and herbs)—this is called meat broth and is very nutritious and flavorful. It can be used just like the bone broth described above. Now you can follow the directions above to make the bone broth.