Winning Heritage Chicken Cooking Competition Recipes!

| 6/18/2010 1:40:13 PM

A few months ago we announced April’s Heritage Chicken Cooking Competition, hosted by Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch, and the winners have been announced! Of 864 entries, four winners conquered the categories of Whole Chicken, Cut Up, De-good shepherd2Boned and Barbecue. Grand prize winner Ann Knowles of Salina, Kan., earned $1,000 for her recipe, Baked Chicken a la Tucson.

Heritage chickens are an all-around sustainable and savory alternative to industrial chicken breeds. Numerous varieties of traditional chicken livestock vanished when factory farms began breeding just a few strains of chickens for most of America’s chicken production, reducing poultry’s interesting genetic diversity to a stark monotony. Now, many of the standard breeds once raised in the United States are in danger of disappearing. Although industrial chickens are bred for maximum productivity and are ready to eat in as little as six weeks, these highly specialized birds did not retain traits such as ability to forage, longevity, tolerance to extreme cold or heat, predator avoidance or broodiness. Because many heritage breeds have maintained these important features, they are ideal for small-scale farming. Plus, eating (or raising) heritage breeds bypasses the wasteful, unsanitary and cruel factory farm system.

But before you switch over to heritage breeds, take time to learn how to cook these birds, which are more flavorful and muscular than conventional chickens and thus require special attention in the kitchen. As a general rule, adhere to lower temperatures and longer cooking times. Frank Reese, owner of Good Shepherd and contest host, mentioned in an article by the Kansas City Star that most people born in the past 50 or 60 years simply do not know how to cook these birds — a major reason he held this recipe contest. The article quoted Reese: “Unless you’re 70 years old, you don’t know how to cook them. I’ve had chefs in New York screw my chickens up royally.” Check out the winning recipe so you won’t botch your first attempt at succulent heritage chicken. Enjoy!

Baked Chicken a la Tucsonann knowles2

Ann Knowles of Salina, Kan.
Makes 4 servings

1 (3- to 4-pound) Good Shepherd heritage chicken (New Hampshire or Plymouth Barred Rock)
Lemons and limes, halved, to fill chicken cavity
2 teaspoons New Mexico chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

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