• Preparing & Cooking Your Pasture-Raised Turkey

    Helpful hints from Shannon Hayes, the Radical Homemaker.

    Brining and Basting optional. If tradition dictates that you season your meat by brining your bird and basting it as it roasts, by all means, do so. However, many people brine and baste in order to keep the bird from drying out. With a pastured bird, this is not necessary, and basting only wastes energy as you continually open the oven door. Pastured birds are significantly juicier and more flavorful than factory farmed birds. You can spare yourself this extra step as a reward for making the sustainable holiday choice! (By the way, those turkey roasting bags are not necessary, either.)

    Monitor the internal temperature. Somewhere along the line, a lot of folks came to believe that turkeys needed to be roasted until they had an internal temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Yuck. You don’t need to do that. Your turkey need only be cooked to 165 degrees. If the breast is done and the thighs are not, take the bird out of the oven, carve off the legs and thighs, and put them back in to cook while you carve the breast and make your gravy. That entire holiday myth about coming to the table with a perfect whole bird and then engaging in exposition carving is about as realistic as expecting our daughters will grow up to look like Barbie (and who’d want that, anyhow?). Just have fun and enjoy the good food.

    Cook the stuffing separately. I know a lot of folks like to put the stuffing inside their holiday birds, and if Thanksgiving will be positively ruined if you break tradition, then stuff away. However, for a couple reasons, I recommend cooking your stuffing separately. First, everyone’s stuffing recipe is different. Therefore, the density will not be consistent, which means that cooking times will vary dramatically. If you must stuff your bird, allow for about 12-15 minutes per pound cooking time, but be assiduous about monitoring the internal temperature of the meat and the stuffing. Due to food safety concerns, I happen to think it is safer to cook the stuffing outside the bird. Plus, it is much easier to lift and move both the bird and the stuffing when prepared separately, and to monitor the doneness of each. Rather than putting stuffing in my bird’s cavity, I put in aromatics, like an onion, carrot, garlic and some fresh herbs. When the bird is cooked, I add these aromatics to my stock pot. The aromatics perfume the meat beautifully, and the only seasoning I wind up using on the surface is melted butter, salt and pepper.

    Do not cover your bird! Covering it will only make the skin rubbery and soggy. Do not put tin foil over the breast. It is an unnecessary waste of aluminum.

    No need to flip. I used to ascribe to that crazy method of first roasting the bird upside down, then flipping it over to brown the breast. The idea was that the bird would cook more evenly, and the breast wouldn’t dry out. When I did this, the turkey came out fine. But I suffered 2nd degree burns, threw out my back, ruined two sets of potholders and nearly dropped the thing on the floor. Pasture-raised turkeys are naturally juicy. Don’t make yourself crazy with this stunt. Just put it in the oven breast-side up like you would a whole chicken, don’t cover it and don’t over-cook it. Take it out when the breast is 165 degrees (see above). If, despite the disparaging comments above, you still want to show off the whole bird, then bring it into the dining room, allow everyone to ooh and aah, then scuttle back to the kitchen, and proceed as explained above.

    Be ready for faster cook times. Pasture-raised turkeys will cook faster than factory-farmed birds. Set the oven temp for 325 degrees and figure on 8-10 minutes per pound for an un-stuffed bird, 12-15 minutes per pound if stuffed. Don’t worry — It WILL brown! But remember: oven temperatures and individual birds will always vary. Use an internal meat thermometer to know for sure when the bird is cooked.

    Use a good-quality roasting pan. If this is your first Thanksgiving and you do not already own a turkey roasting pan and cannot find one to borrow, treat yourself to a really top-quality roaster, especially if you have a sizeable bird. Cheap aluminum pans from the grocery store can easily buckle when you remove the bird from the oven, potentially causing the cook serious burns or myriad other injuries in efforts to catch the falling fowl.

    Pick the meat off the bird before making stock. If you plan to make soup from your turkey leftovers, be sure to remove all the meat from the bones before you boil the carcass for stock. Add the chunks of turkey back to the broth just before serving the soup. This prevents the meat from getting rubbery and stringy.


    For more wonderful ways to prepare your poultry check out our Recipes page for ideas.

  • Chicken Skillet Dinner

    Prep Time: 15 minutes   Total Time: 25 minutes   Servings: 4
    Nutrition Facts: Calories: 338   Fat: 17g   Carbs: 12g   Protein: 40g
    Nutritional Profile: Healthy Aging, Healthy Immunity, High-Protein, Low Carb, Kid Friendly

    Tender chicken breasts cook a garlicky, creamy tomato bath, and the addition of kale rounds the creamy chicken skillet meal into a true one-pan dinner. Plus, it’s ready in just about 20 minutes.


    • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1.5 lbs chicken breast (4 medium), boneless, skinless
    • 1 tsp kosher salt, divided
    • ½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
    • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
    • cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 tsp fennel seeds
    • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, optional
    • 1 (14 oz) can crushed tomatoes
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • ½ cup parmesan cheese, divided
    • 4 cups kale, ribs removed, torn into small pieces, packed
    • 1/4 cup basil leaves, thinly sliced


    1. In a large skillet set over over medium-high, heat the olive oil until glistening.
    2. Season the chicken breasts with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.
    3. Add chicken to skillet and cook until golden on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Turn and cook until golden on the other side, about 5 minutes longer. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside.
    4. In the same skillet, add tomato paste, garlic, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minutes.
    5. Add crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer, allow to cook for 3 minutes.
    6. Stir in the heavy cream, ¼ cup parmesan cheese and kale, stirring until kale is just wilted, about 3 minutes.
    7. Season with remaining ½ teaspoon salt and add chicken back into the skillet. Allow to cook for 5 more minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken breasts reaches 165°F with an instant read thermometer.
    8. Serve topped with fresh basil and remaining cheese.


  • Lemon Chicken Pasta

    Prep Time: 10 minutes   Total Time: 10 minutes   Servings: 1   Yield: 2 cups
    Nutrition Facts: Calories: 350   Fat: 15g   Carbs: 27g   Protein: 29g
    Nutritional Profile: Diabetes Appropriate, Egg Free, Healthy Aging, Healthy Immunity, High-Protein, Low Added Sugars, Low-Calorie, Nut-Free, Soy-Free

    Need a quick dish for a single’s night or healthy work lunch? This is a great dish that is easy to prepare and very delicious. How many dinners do you know that can be prepared in about 10 minutes?


    • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 cup spiralized zucchini
    • 1 cup baby spinach
    • ½ cup shredded skinless rotisserie chicken breast
    •  teaspoon salt
    •  teaspoon ground pepper
    • ½ cup cooked whole-wheat spaghetti
    • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    • 1 tablespoon panko breadcrumbs, toasted


    Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini; cook for 1 minute. Add spinach and chicken; cook for 1 more minute. Season with salt and pepper; remove from heat. Add cooked spaghetti, Parmesan, lemon zest, and lemon juice; toss to combine. Sprinkle with toasted panko and serve.


    To make ahead

    Cook pasta up to 1 day ahead and refrigerate.



  • Roast Chicken and Warm Escarole Caesar

    This roast chicken from the menu at Dusek’s in Chicago is a sleeper hit, combining comforting roast chicken and the briny flavors of Caesar salad for a cozy meal. Marinating the chicken for at least 24 hours in a koji marinade makes it nice and juicy while infusing it with tons of flavor. The chicken emerges from the oven savory, sweet, a little smoky, and slightly spicy with a deep brown crust. It’s the perfect match for the just-wilted escarole, which still retains some crunch and is slightly bitter. Tender roasted potatoes add some extra heft to the preparation, and a homemade Caesar dressing brings it all together.



    • 1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) whole chicken, giblets removed
    • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
    • ¾ teaspoon black pepper, divided
    • ¼ teaspoon shio koji
    • ¼ cup zhoug, such as Shabazi 38
    • 5 cloves confit garlic
    • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
    • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
    • ½ cup, plus 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    • 1 pound baby Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
    • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
    • 1 (16-ounce) head escarole

    Caesar Dressing

    • 1 large egg yolk
    • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
    • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1 tablespoon water
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 1 medium garlic clove
    • 2 cloves garlic confit
    • 4 oil-packed anchovies (from 1 [2-ounce] container, drained)
    • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil


    Prepare the Chicken:

    1. Sprinkle chicken with 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper. Place on a large rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate, uncovered, at least 4 or up to 8 hours.
    2. Process shio koji, Shabazi, confit garlic, sugar, lemon zest, and 1/2 cup of the oil in a food processor until mixture forms a paste, about 1 minute. Remove chicken from refrigerator. Place chicken in a large ziplock bag; add koji marinade, and seal bag. Massage marinade into chicken. Refrigerate at least 24 hours or up to 48 hours.
    3. Preheat oven to 350°F with 1 rack in center position and 1 rack in bottom position. Remove chicken from marinade, and place on rack in a roasting pan; discard marinade. Roast on center oven rack in preheated oven until a thermometer inserted into thickest portion of chicken registers 165°F, about 1 hour.
    4. During final 30 minutes chicken cook time, toss together potatoes, thyme, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a separate roasting pan. Place on bottom oven rack in oven, and roast until potatoes are fork-tender, about 25 minutes, stirring once halfway through cook time. Remove from oven; set aside until ready to use.
    5. Remove chicken from oven; let rest, uncovered, 10 minutes. Carve into 8 pieces (2 breast halves, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, and 2 wings).
    6. While chicken rests, cut escarole head in half lengthwise, and chop into large chunks. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Working in 2 batches, add escarole, and cook, stirring constantly, until it just begins to wilt, about 1 minute. The escarole should still have some crunch. Remove from heat; set aside until ready to use.

    Prepare the Caesar Dressing:

    1. Process egg yolk, lemon juice, Parmesan, water, mustard, garlic clove, confit garlic, and anchovies in a food processor until mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. With processor running, slowly stream in oil to form an emulsified sauce (it should look like a thin mayonnaise), about 1 minute.
    2. Toss together potatoes, escarole, and 1/3 cup Caesar Dressing in a large bowl until evenly coated. Transfer mixture to a platter, and place chicken on top. Store Caesar Dressing, covered, in refrigerator up to 3 days.
  • Garlic Herb Butter Roast Chicken Recipe

    This garlic herb butter roast chicken is packed with unbelievable flavours, crispy skin, and so juicy!



    Welcome to one of The Little Orchard Farm Online Recipe Cards. It is our desire to see your family have incredible dining experiences. I know we can help with one element of that – wonderfully delicious poultry and produce. However, when the rubber meets the road it is the final product that is going to determine whether the meal is fame or flop. So, we thought we’d provide you with a sure winner. We selected recipes that are easy to create and relatively quick to prepare. So let’s get started!

    This Garlic Herb Butter Roast Chicken is packed with unbelievable flavours, crispy skin, and so juicy! Nothing beats an easy to make and even easier to prepare roast chook! Especially when roasted with garlic butter, rosemary, parsley, lemon, and a hint of white wine. Beats any rotisserie chicken!


    • 4 pound (2kg) whole chicken, at room temperature giblets and neck removed from cavity*
    • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1/4 cup white wine, (OPTIONAL) — use a dry wine like a Sauv blanc or Chardonnay
    • 1 lemon, halved
    • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
    • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 head of garlic roughly peeled and cut in half horizontally through the middle crosswise
    • 3 fresh whole rosemary sprigs


    1. Preheat oven to 430°F | 220°C (400°F or 200°C fan forced). Line a baking tray with foil, or lightly grease a roasting pan.
    2. Discard neck from inside the cavity and remove any excess fat and leftover feathers. Pat dry with paper towels.
    3. Pour the olive oil, melted butter, wine (if using) and the juice of half a lemon over the chicken, under the skin and inside the cavity. Season chicken liberally on the outside and inside the cavity with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the parsley.
    4. Rub the minced garlic over the chicken, mixing all ingredients together over the chicken and under the skin.
    5. Stuff the garlic head into the chicken cavity along with the rosemary sprigs and the squeezed lemon halve. Tie legs together with kitchen string.
    6. Place breast-side up into baking tray or roasting pan. Roast for 1 hour and 15-20 minutes, basting half way through cooking time, until juices run clear when chicken thigh is pierced with a skewer.
    7. Baste again, then broil for a further 2-3 minutes, until golden.
    8. Remove from the oven, cover with foil and allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serve, drizzled with pan juices and remaining lemon half cut into wedges or slices.


    For a larger chicken, roast at 430°F (220°C), 0r 400°F (200°C) fan forced, for one hour. Then, reduce oven temperature down to 325 (160°C). Baste and cover chicken. Roast, basting 2 more times while cooking, until chicken is cooked through, about 45 mins to an hour. Internal temperature should read 165°F (75°C) and juices run clear when pierced.


    Calories: 510kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 71g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 234mg | Sodium: 195mg | Potassium: 588mg | Vitamin A: 905IU | Vitamin C: 22.5mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 2.9mg