Have old egg laying Hens

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Mek, Sep 23, 2011.

  1. Mek

    Mek Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi There,

    My Old man got some old egg layers (3-4 years old) and wants to use them to make soup.
    Is there a way to make old chicken more palatable when you process them?
  2. Opa

    Opa Opa-wan Chickenobi

    May 11, 2008
    Howell Michigan
    pressure cooker
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    The secret to cooking older chickens like that is to cook them moist and slow. I usually use a crock pot, but an oven or even a pot on top of the stove works. I'm sure a pressure cooker would work too with the right recipe but I have not tried that. Remember that most modern cookbooks assume you are using the chickens you buy at the store and they are only 7 to 9 weeks old. That makes them real tender. Those recipes don't usually work for older chickens like you have.

    If you make stew, you do not want the water to boil. Don't let it get above a slow simmer. You can look up recipes for Coq au Vin (that translates to Cock and Wine) which is a traditional way to cook and old rooster but an old hen will work. Chicken and dumplings are a great way to cook an older bird. Roasting them in a tightly covered pan with liquids works too, but remember to cook them slow, maybe 4 hours at 325. Then check to see if the thigh is done. The thigh is usually the slowest part to cook.

    When I butcher a chicken I cut it into pieces and use the legs, thighs, breasts and wishbone for a meat recipe, but I use the neck, back, wings, gizzard, heart, and feet to make broth. To clean the feet, I scald them for about 30 seconds and the scales and toenails come off pretty easy, leaving clean feet. To make the broth, I put these chicken parts in a crock pot, add a quartered onion, a carrot and a piece of celery cut into chunks, about a dozen peppercorns, a bay leaf, and some of whatever herbs I have in the garden, such as oregano, chives, parsley, or thyme. Garlic works too if you like it. Or if it is out of season, whichever herbs I feel like using. Instead of onions I'll probably use leeks in my next batch since I have some I need to use. There is no law that says you have to use any particular thing. Make a broth you like. Then I fill the crock pot with water and cook on low about 10 hours.

    After it is done, take out the big chunks, skim off the fat, and strain it through about 4 or 5 layers of cheesecloth. You should have a few pints of tremendous chicken broth. You can pick the meat off the back, neck, and wings and you have cooked chicken that can be used in casseroles, tacos, chicken salad, whatever you would use cooked chicken for. And you still have the major meat pieces for the other dishes.

    There are lots of great recipes for older chickens. Hopefully others will chime in with how they do it. Good luck and enjoy.

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