Yum, Chicken!

by firsthandfoods on May 7, 2014

We’re excited to be able to offer local, pasture-raised chicken to our (M)eat Local Box customers.  This spring, we are sourcing our chicken from Johnny and Sharon Rogers in Roxboro, North Carolina.  The Rogers raise Cornish Cross meat birds, a breed of chicken that adapts well to living outdoors and is known for its superior flavor.  They raise birds in moveable tractors, which they transport across their pastures frequently, helping to fertilize the soil and control pests.  Each tractor is built to provide shelter from hawks, foxes and other predators, while still enabling the birds to scratch and forage to their hearts content.  The Rogers feed their birds a standard grain ration, taking care to avoid the use of antibiotics and animal by-products.  (Hormones cannot be legally used in chicken production.)   

Rogers' chickens raised on pasture Rogers’ chickens raised on pasture.

Pasture-raised chicken is especially tasty compared to meat from birds raised in crowded, confined conditions.  First, because they live outdoors, these birds get plenty of exercise, which keeps them healthy, eliminates the need for medicated feed, and enhances meat quality.  This pastoral lifestyle also affords them the chance to scratch and peck in their natural setting and eat grass and grubs, which adds flavor to the meat.

When they leave the farm, the Rogers’ chickens are slaughtered at Chaudhry’s Halal Meats, a USDA-inspected plant in Siler City where they are “air chilled” to ensure proper cool-down.  This process has numerous advantages over the more common method of immersion in chlorinated cold water.  Air-chilled meat, because it doesn’t absorb water, has more flavor and is both dense and juicy.

Firsthand Foods staff has been buying chickens from Johnny & Sharon for a couple of years now.  With very little preparation, just a little butter, salt & pepper, their chicken is incredibly tasty and provides 2-4 meals worth of meat, depending on the size of your family.  And don’t forget to make a healthy batch of stock with the bones!

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