“Real Chickens” as my mother would say…

I have to explain a little something about my mother.  For as long as I can remember, she’s been making up terms for things.  She doesn’t invent new words, it’s more like she reassigns a definition to words we already know.  My father used to say he was going to start keeping a list of them all and someday we could have a Cindy Dictionary.  As far as I know, he’s never done it.

This is what my mother would call a “real” chicken.  It’s real because it came from a farm where you could have seen it running around in the grass before you cooked it.  Once recently when I was at her house she informed me that the eggs in the refrigerator were “real eggs” from her neighbor who keeps chickens.  (I’ve often wondered why she doesn’t call grocery store eggs and chickens “imaginary,” but alas they are just regular old eggs and chickens.)

My apologies to this real chicken for such an unflattering shot

Since we are trying to get all the grocery store meat and produce out of our lives, we happen to have had a stock of real chickens recently.  There’s just something about a whole bird that makes me want to keep them whole.  (And no, it’s not that I’m too lazy to cut them up!)  And since I’ve been without a working oven since before Thanksgiving, I didn’t need much of an excuse to haul out the rotisserie.

Nothing fancy here.  Rosemary, tarragon, thyme, garlic cloves and lemon slices are stuffed into the cavity.  The legs are trussed and the skin is patted dry and salted.  That’s it.  Into the little turning oven it goes.

I think normally I let the skin get a little darker than this.  But I was so paranoid this chicken was going to be tough and dry I pulled it off as soon as the juices were clear.  (And in spite of the constant assurances from my husband that this “free range yard bird will be as tough as leather,” I thought it tasted delightful.)  He actually said that it tasted just like regular chicken, which, of course, it did.  I’m convinced its flavor was more “chickeny” than what we used to eat, but he says it’s all in my head.  What I do know is that it was yummy and I felt pretty good about handing my three-year-old a “real” chicken leg.

And speaking of whole chickens, I just have to share this other recipe with you.  I’ve had this in my stack of “Want to Try” recipes for over a year…and it did enjoy some internet fame over a year ago, so this may be old news.  But it fit the bill for my “whole-chickens-no-oven” situation, so I finally gave it a go.


-1 large broiler/fryer whole chicken (as big as your crock will fit)

-thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley


-fresh ground pepper

-40 cloves UNPEELED garlic

-2 stalks celery, washed and cut into 3 inch pieces

-baguette or french bread slices, toasted (optional)
Place the celery slices on the bottom of the crock. Season the chicken in and out with salt, pepper, and generously with the herbs. Place on top of the celery. Place the cloves all around and on top of the chicken. Cover and cook on low 8 hours.
Remove chicken and celery to serving platter. Remove garlic to small bowl.


-1/4 cup cream

-2 – 3 tablespoons cornstarch

-salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Skim the fat off the liquid in the crockpot. Turn to high. Add the cream. Mix cornstarch with a small amount of water until smooth and add to liquid. Stir, cover and heat until thickened. You can pour some on the chicken and put the rest in a gravy boat.

Serve with noodles or garlic mashed potatoes made from some of that wonderful roasted garlic in the pot.

The roasted garlic can also be squished out of it’s skins onto the toasted bread.

(I can’t remember where I got this recipe since I’ve seen so many different versions of it.  I thought I got it here, but her recipe looks different. Another site said that the original recipe was from Rival and came with the crockpot booklet.)

I actually used sliced onions instead of celery – partly because we didn’t have any celery and party because no one in my house really likes it.  And I don’t have an “After” photo because I came home after six straight hours of shopping (which is akin to a root canal for me) to a house full of hungry people. It was already dark and in my brain-dead state it took all of my organizational skills to just give instructions on mashing the potatoes and setting the table.  But the chicken just fell right off the bone and was probably some of the most tender I’ve ever had.  My husband said, “This is a keeper.”  I also recommend going easy on the fresh herbs – they can easily overpower the dish and the gravy – you don’t need much.

Yippee for “real” chickens!


5 thoughts on ““Real Chickens” as my mother would say…

  1. Selena Shelley

    What a great post… “real” chickens! 🙂 I wanted to tell you that you have gotten me to stop talking about wanting to buy more locally/sustainably and do it… We’re signing up for a CSA for 26 weeks this spring-fall. We chose them because they not only deliver vegetables straight from their farm weekly, but this one also provides free-range chicken and eggs from their farm as part of the delivery! They don’t deliver year-round, but it’s a start and I’m totally excited! Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. gatheraroundthetable

      Yippeee!!! Go CSAs!! I would love to do a CSA, but haven’t been able to find one that is a good fit for us that is close enough. But I’m still on the lookout. You’ll have to keep me updated. Happy Holidays. 🙂

  2. Selena Shelley

    Yeah, this one was the furthest of the CSA’s… it’s almost an hour from our house and pretty big. So there is a part of me that wants to sign up for the one 8 miles from our house and go as local as possible. But then I realize I am making a big shift as it is, even going to a CSA and the convenience of going with a bigger farm that has more selection and the chicken/egg possibility is worth it for me. So I decided we’ll try this for 2010 and if still feels like we should localize even more, there’s always 2011! Good luck on your CSA search as well. Sounds like you have more meat/egg possibilities which to me is the big one. And Merry Christmas… hope it is a wonderful celebration with all your boys! 🙂

  3. Jen Hannah

    I made this! I forgot to set it up in the crock pot before we left for church, so I browned the chicken first, then baked it at 350* for an hour and a half with all the goodies in there… YUM!

    Peter watched me eat it, then tried it himself… and with a surprised look, he said, “This is REALLY good!”

    Thank you for that! 😀

    1. gatheraroundthetable

      So happy to hear it – it was a hit in our house too! I like the idea of browning the chicken first – that was the only thing I wasn’t thrilled about with the crockpot version – the chicken stays so pale looking. But it does fall off the bone, so that kind of makes up for it! Have a great week….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s