Pasture-raised poultry are leaner and have more muscle relative to factory farm raised animals due to regular exercise outdoors and a diet rich in grasses, bugs, and worms. Pastured birds are more flavorful, but also more susceptible to drying out. So, cooking techniques should differ from cooking conventional poultry from the grocery store to retain flavor, moisture, and tenderness.
1. BRINE OR MARINADE
Let poultry sit in a wet brine or marinade overnight in the refrigerator, or for at least a few hours. Poke holes in the skin to allow the marinade to further soak into the meat. Dry-brine instead of wet by coating with salt if you prefer crispier skin.
2. SEAL IN MOISTURE & HUMIDITY
Coat the outside with your favorite cooking fat like tallow, ghee, butter, or olive oil to help seal in juices. Add stock/water to the bottom of the pan or roast on a bed of root vegetables (meat gets moisture from the vegetables as they roast, as the water in the veggies creates a bit of humidity under the bird).
3. COOK BREAST SIDE DOWN
The white meat tends to dry out first, so the juices from the darker meat on top will help keep the breast from drying out.
4. COOK AT HIGH TEMP, THEN LOW & SLOW
Cook on high at 400-450ºF for 30-45 minutes to crisp up the skin and lock in juices. Then cover to cook low and slow; we roast our pastured chickens at 325ºF for about 3.5 hours. Use a meat thermometer in the meatiest part of the thigh to ensure the poultry reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF.
5. LET IT REST
Let meat rest for at least 20 minutes after cooking to let the juices settle before slicing.