When my boys were young, I would go to any length necessary to get them to eat healthy. One night, when Andrew was about nine years old, he told me I never fixed anything good to eat. We had a roast, potatoes and carrots on the table, which I thought was pretty good. Especially when you considered I worked 10 hour days and was a single Mom. I asked him what he considered "good" and his response was "tacos and pizza." I told him they served that up every day at school and we were going to healthy food at home.
Since he was my pickiest eater, (his favorite seafood was hushpuppies for years) I had to get sneaky with him. He wouldn't eat chicken, but he'd devour turkey. So... I would buy a hen and tell him Momma was fixing a baby turkey for supper. He'd watch me get it ready to bake the night before and when they came home from school the next day, the house smelled heavenly. He ate it and never questioned me. Poor Dale stayed confused all the time. He was in on my secret and never could remember if we were eating turkey or chicken. Do I feel guilty? No. He likes both. I finally confessed years later and we all got a good laugh out of it.
Because of my work schedule, I like to find ways to get the prep out of the way the night before and slow cook meats in a crock pot or oven during the day. Since I can come home at lunch, I can turn the oven off if it's done. Today I baked a 5 lb. hen all day at 225 degrees (10 hours) and the chicken was so incredibly tender and close to falling off the bone.
The dish I use to bake this in belonged to my Grandmother Gaudette. She knew I loved to cook so about 20 years ago she sent her collection of Guardian Ware down to Tennessee with my parents as a gift to me. Guardian Ware was sold between the 30s and late 50s at home parties. At a minimum, it's over 50 years old and still looks pretty darned good. It has a nice glass dome and is perfect to roast a "baby turkey" in.
- 1 hen* (3-5 lbs.)
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter
- Salt, pepper and poultry seasoning to taste
Rinse hen inside and out. Pat outside dry. Place in roasting dish. Slice half a stick of butter and place all over the top. Season the top of the meat. Pour about 1/4" of water in the bottom of the dish (6-8 oz.). Cover and refrigerate if you are going to bake the next day. If so, place dish in a cold oven and set temperature to 225 degrees. Let it bake for at least 8 hours (5 lb. bird) or until internal temp reaches 165 degrees.
DON'T THROW THE BROTH AWAY! If you don't use the broth to mix up gravy that night, please remember to pour it up and freeze it!! The broth from a hen is so rich and delicious, it's perfect for making dressing! Look at the top picture and see how much broth was generated with the very minimal amount of water I added.
*I've roasted small fryers this same way and they taste good too. Since they are so much smaller, be sure you don't overcook!