By Melanie Boldt, as told to Helen Racanelli
Melanie Boldt and her husband, Kevin, own and run Pine View Farms – All Natural Meats in Osler, Sask. Both are of German-Mennonite background and grew up in rural Saskatchewan. Kevin is a fourth-generation family farmer, and Melanie, whose dad worked in the city, grew up on an acreage with a big kitchen garden.
I always said I’d never marry a farmer, that I was bound for the big city. But love takes you where you least expect it, and now we’ve been married for 24 years. Roast chicken dinner is something we both grew up on. Kevin’s mom—a wizard cook—would even take a complete chicken dinner into the field to feed a large farm crew: hot chicken, potatoes, vegetables, gravy, stuffing, fresh buns and pie. Farming is hard physical work, so Saskatchewan is a meat-and-potatoes province.
In my home growing up, if we were to have a roast chicken dinner, we would have it after church on Sunday. You would come home and your mouth would water when Mom put the meal on the table. There would also be pies and other German-Mennonite family recipes like bubbat, a very basic sweet dough of flour, sugar, milk, raisins and prunes that you stuff into the chicken.
There’s nothing more welcoming than food being prepared and waiting for you; it’s such a loving gesture. When I would come home from school, it might be bread day or fresh cookies or canning fruit. As a kid, you think homemade food is the worst thing ever. It’s, like, “Why can’t I have Oreos? Why do I have to have homemade cookies?” Now I realize what a privilege it is.
My mom was an adventurous cook, and she was ecologically conscious. She made us curries, beans and other pulse crops. But we didn’t have kiwi, mango or sambal oelek sauce—it was a simpler flavour profile back then. For my family, I make chicken with sides such as mango salsa, so it’s much more of a global table. I’ll also make them puttanesca, butter chicken and fish tacos.
When I got married, Kevin’s mom said the way to his heart is through his belly. I’m of a different generation, but I still incorporate the family meal table. It’s our one time to connect and talk to each other. We have two sons—one is 17 and one is 14—and they help on the farm. We work hard to make sure we all sit down together.
At Pine View Farms, we’re not performing rocket science; we’re just returning to our roots in smaller-scale farming. Our chickens are a little more mature because we’re not trying to grow them so fast, so their meat is richer in flavour. You can’t get an eight-pound roasting chicken at a supermarket! They’re great and an easy way to feed a lot of people at one time.
My roast chicken recipe is my own updated, quicker roast chicken dinner—that’s why the chicken is in pieces. I love to cook traditional foods, and while Kevin’s mom and my mom were full-time homemakers, I work at my job, so supper has to be a little quicker. I roast the chicken on a baking sheet, which is faster. I also add roasted vegetables to the same sheet to maximize oven space, so it’s all ready at the same time.
Roast Chicken From Pine View Farms, courtesy of Melanie Boldt
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
1 whole free-range chicken, cut in pieces
2 to 3 tbsp (30 to 45 mL) Three Farmers Camelina Oil (Original or Roasted Onion & Basil)
salt and pepper to taste
4 to 6 potatoes, cut in 1- to 2-inch (2.5 cm to 5 cm) chunks
4 to 6 parsnips, cut in 1- to 2-inch (2.5 cm to 5 cm) chunks
4 to 6 carrots, cut in 1- to 2-inch (2.5 cm to 5 cm) chunks
4 to 6 beets, cut in 1- to 2-inch (2.5 cm to 5 cm) chunks
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh herbs (such as thyme, sage, oregano and rosemary)
garlic cloves and onions, quartered (optional)
1. Spread chicken on parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Drizzle with oil; generously sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. In large bowl, toss together potatoes, parsnips, carrots, beets, remaining oil, salt, pepper and herbs. Add garlic and onions, if using; toss to combine. Spread in single layer among chicken. Use separate baking sheet if necessary.
3. Roast in 375°F (190°C) oven for about 1 to 1½ hours (depending on size of chicken pieces), until vegetables are fork-tender and chicken is well done (juices will run clear when pierced).
4. Serve chicken on platter with vegetables.
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