Pasture-Raised Shredded BBQ Chicken

Pasture raised BBQ chicken.JPG

Get the ingredients for this recipe locally by joining the Bluestem Farm membership program, or at the Boyne City Farmers Market, which runs all year. 

Walk into any box store and buy a whole rotisserie chicken, cooked and seasoned, for about 7 bucks. You can even eat it on the car ride home if you want.

If you decide to wait til you get home, you have a bunch of options. You can eat it just so. You can put it in a salad or a sandwich or cube up the meat for a casserole. You can put it next to potatoes, drench it in a sauce, make chicken salad.

So versatile. So unbelievably cheap and convenient.

If you can just manage to forget some things about that chicken, you’ve got yourself a phenomenal deal. 80% of antibiotics sold in the United States today go not to treating strep throat in kids or treating patients when they’ve had surgery, but to animals being raised for food.

That’s right, farmers in big agriculture routinely use thousands of tons of medically important antibiotics every year to grow chicken and other types of meat. Unfortunately, this is a major contributor to the rise of multi-drug resistant bacteria.

What for? First, they prevent the animals from dying in the industrial conditions of the mainstream food system. Second, farmers realized that low doses of antibiotics, when applied throughout an animal’s life, cause animals to grow bigger faster. Which boosts the bottom line. 

The good news? 

You can buy a whole, antibiotic-free, non-GMO pasture-raised chicken from a local farm for just 10 bucks.

Ten dollars for a chicken raised on the certified organic pastures of Bluestem Farm, free to move in the open outdoors with zero antibiotics. Even better, this method of raising chickens produces meat that is higher in Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin A than the meat of factory farmed birds.

The bad news? You have to cook it yourself.

You can do everything to the resulting chicken meat that you would to a pre-made rotisserie chicken. If you’re still here because you’re looking for a recipe, here’s the current favorite at our house.

The Recipe

1 pasture-raised soup chicken from Bluestem Farm

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon sea salt

2 cups crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons molasses

1 whole star anise, or if you don’t have it around, ¼ teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, or a tiny pinch of cloves plus ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ cup lemon juice

The Procedure

The easiest, quickest way to do this is with a pressure cooker. The second easiest way is with a crock pot or a soup pot on the stove. In the end, the results will be the same.

1) Use “enough” water in the pot to prevent scorching, and walk away until the chicken meat is done.

2) Drain off whatever broth remains in the pot, and save it for use with cooking grains, or as a base for a future soup.

3) Once it’s cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones and shred it with a fork.

4) In a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, sauté the onion and garlic in oil until translucent. Add the shredded chicken, tomatoes, molasses, star anise, and lemon juice, and stir. Simmer until the liquid reduces to a thick consistency, like barbecue sauce.

5) Serve alongside a salad, on top of rice, or on a good, crusty roll.

Makes about 5 cups. 

You can also find this recipe in our Eat Like a Farmer column in the Petoskey News-Review.