Whenever I’m at a loss at what to cook — whether it’s for company or just for us — I go to the freezer and pull out a free-range Hutterite chicken. I’ve taken them for granted ever since Tony Waldner from the Forest River Colony started coming around about 10 years ago.
Since then,I’ve been buying the chickens by the case, either regular or smoked, and haven’t purchased one in the store.
A couple of months ago, I wrote about the chickens, and Diane Hoverson of Phoenix, and originally from Manvel, N.D., left a comment on my blog wondering if she had to go out to the colony near Inkster, N.D., to pick up some when she was home visiting. I told her we always had plenty on hand and if she let me know when she was going to be here, there would be some available.
Well, Diane drove into town this past week with her daughter and gave me a call. We had a nice chat when she came over to our house to pick up some chickens. She said her grandmother used to cook at the old Palace restaurant, which was located on North Third Street in downtown Grand Forks, and her stepgrandfather was a butcher at Hugo’s, so she’s always been around good food.
She also shared a humorous story about running afoul of airport security with some homemade strawberry-rhubarb jam she had bought at a farmers market while in Billings, Mont.
After trying to convince the authorities her strawberry-rhubarb spread was jam, not a "jelly," she forked it over. Later, however, she went back and asked for the jam so she could put it on some buns she’d also purchased at the farmers market.
When one of the security people asked if she had a knife to spread the jam, she replied that she wouldn’t think of bringing one on the plane and proceeded to pull out a plastic spoon. She said you can’t find rhubarb in Phoenix, and she wasn’t going to let the security people eat her jam.
At least she won’t have trouble transporting the chickens home.
Speaking of fowl, here’s a recipe for beer can chicken, which I hope to try soon.
Beer Can Chicken
½ cup kosher salt
¼ cup white vinegar
1 whole frying chicken, about 4 pounds
1 lemon, halved
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup Greek seasoning mix
1 12-ounce can beer
Fill sink or large bowl with cold water; add salt and vinegar. Soak chicken in brining solution 30 minutes or more. Rinse chicken, pat dry. Rub chicken with one half of the lemon. Rub inside of chicken with other half of lemon. Coat chicken on all sides with olive oil. Rub chicken inside and out with seasoning mix.
Prepare a grill for indirect cooking. Punch two holes in the top of the beer can, away from the opening. Pour off ¼ of the beer (about ½ cup); add any remaining rub to the beer in the can. Slowly insert the can of beer into the chicken’s cavity until chicken legs are even with the end of the can. Place the chicken on the grill, standing upright with the legs forming a tripod. Close lid; grill until the juices run clear, 1 to 1½ hours.
Carefully pick up chicken with tongs; transfer upright to a cutting board. Stick a long handled spoon through the neck hole of the chicken; gently push beer can through without spilling, holding chicken with the tongs. Allow chicken to rest 15 minutes before cutting into pieces.
Note: Cavender’s makes a nice Greek seasoning, but you can substitute your own blend by crushing 3 tablespoons dried oregano in your hands into a small bowl; add 2 teaspoons each salt and pepper, plus 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and mix.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 634 calories, 57 percent of calories from fat, 39 grams fat (10 grams saturated), 201 milligrams cholesterol, 4 grams carbohydrates, 64 grams protein, 1,837 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.