How to cook the roosters I've culled?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by eve789, Sep 22, 2013.

  1. eve789

    eve789 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 28, 2013
    Quick question--there's lots on home slaughtering I will dig deeper into it later, but I actually wanted advice on preparing the birds after they are killed & plucked.

    We have two roosters (an easter egger and a barnevelder) that are 3.5 months old. I did not raise them for meat, but assumed they were girls, until it was clear that they weren't.

    My question is, at that age, are they good for baking/roasting? Will they taste appreciably different than birds from the store or require different cooking methods to get the best result? Or would chicken soup/stew be best?

    I know nothing about meat birds and the difference between preparing a bird raised for the purpose v. one you need to cull.

    Concurrently, I do have a thread asking someone to take my roosters for me. If someone wants them, they are still welcome to them. However, in the last 24 hours I've realized that it's just plain silly, as a chicken-eater, to constantly scramble to find a home for our accidental boy chickens. If I am willing to buy them shrink-wrapped at probably $25-$30/chicken, then I should be willing to kill, pluck and gut them myself.
     
  2. DStewart PDX

    DStewart PDX Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I oven-roasted a young rooster about the age of yours, and I thought it was delicious. But it partly depends on your expectations. Your birds will be leaner and stringier than a supermarket bird, but infinitely superior in so many ways! If you process both on the same day, keep one to cook fresh and pop the other in the freezer. Cook the one whatever way you decide, and see how you like it. If you don't like it, try some other method for the other. THey are not too old for the oven, for most people. But they will cook faster than you're used to because they will be smaller and leaner.
     
  3. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    DStewart PDX has some good advice.
    Quote: 3.5 months is quite young. They should be fine. You can cook them any way you want, really, and all going well you can experiment many more times in future. ;)

    Yes, they will most likely taste appreciably different, and many people turn their noses up at that, but we haven't been able to enjoy store bought flesh since tasting the home grown equivalents. There's no comparison. Does take a little bravery and getting used to, for some, though.

    I've eaten a rooster a few years old and man, was he tough... Until we recooked him and made him into soup; but he was a layer fowl breed, and they're generally not good eating.

    Also, how they start is how they'll end. If they weren't raised right for even the first week, they'll never be as great as birds that were. If their parents were cage bred birds on artificial diets, you will taste that in the descendants, even if they were raised organic and free range and whatever you do. It takes a good few generations to breed the unhealthy background of their most recent genetics into something healthier. The mother's and father's health directly influences the quality of the chick before the egg has even developed.

    Bantam and large fowl mixed mongrel genes are my favorite, because the roosters seem to stay tender at any age. They also pack on a great amount of flesh and are juicier, better flavored, and much higher in gelatin, which I love.

    I have found caging them does nothing good for meat quality, and the best flesh comes from animals raised free ranging, organically fed with a diet mostly comprised of fresh feed, with some fermented and sprouting grains, with kelp as the multivitamin and mineral source, in mixed flocks so their every day is spent being a normal chicken; no chemicals or artificial meds, no vaccines, no pellets or crumble if possible in the diet, and the biggest determinants for tender, juicy, fine grained, nicely flavored flesh are genetics, diet, and lifestyle, as well as a swift and stress free cull. Cooking method becomes irrelevant. We always liked woodfire and spit roasting and the likes though.

    High quality of life improves the meat greatly but a great diet can't make up for an unhappy lifestyle. Great meat bird genetics can't trump an unhappy lifestyle or crap diet either.

    Good to hear you're keen on processing your own. My family wasn't too keen when I first started but now we can't go back to storebought.... Even organic free range storebought tastes crap compared to homegrown. There really is nothing like it.

    Best wishes.
     
  4. kynewbchickie

    kynewbchickie Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm pretty relatively new to processing extra roosters myself - I'm 23 weeks pregnant - so squeamish about eating what I've killed is pretty much the name of the game for me right now. :/

    We've now tried three different methods to getting our birds as tender as people say you can get them, all to no avail. I keep wondering what I'm doing wrong...so I'm open to any help from other experienced home processors on the subject. Keep in mind, these roosters were purchased as chicks in March of this year, so they're only 6 months old at most - and all are either Australorp, Black Giant, EE, or Buff Orp.

    I'll list here, step by step, how I've been processing the birds so someone can point out where I might be going wrong.

    1. Coop all birds the night before slaughter (not unlike any other night)
    2. Get set up, scald water at 147-148 degrees in the turkey fryer
    3. Go into coop and select the rooster of the day, carry him out upside down (naturally calming from what I've read) and speaking softly
    4. Place him into kill cone over clean tub and secure him quickly with bungee cord
    5. Slit throat to spine in one swift, quick motion - allow bleed-out until all motion has ceased and blood has ceased flowing (4 min max)
    6. Remove bird from cone and place in scald water, using feet to "swish" him until wing feathers release easily (3-4 min max)
    7. Hang bird upside down from looped rope by feet and pluck cleanly (5 min max)
    8. Place on table and begin butcher process (eviscerate/removal of entire neck and feet for whole bird; quartering/removal of breast meat for pieces)
    9. Place processed meat into cool water container during cleanup
    10. Place meat into brine/herb mixture in refrigerator to "rest" prior to cooking

    I have tried the 6-hour rest, the 3-day rest, and the 7-day rest - all to no avail. They've all been equally tough as rocks.
    I've marinated them, slow-cooked them in an oven, slow-roasted on a grill, and even made a soup - the flavor has been wonderful, but the texture is very tough. It's like they go into rigor during scalding and plucking and never come out of it.

    Where am I going wrong? I can understand some toughness - they are free-ranged egg-laying types. The toughness is like rubber and it takes forever to chew one bite (more than 2 minutes per bite, and no I'm not exaggerating).
     
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  5. eve789

    eve789 Out Of The Brooder

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    @Dstewart: That is good to hear! Somehow knowing they will taste good and be good makes the killing and eating them part a little easier to accept. If I killed the bird and didn't particularly enjoy eating it, it would feel like a waste.

    We had pastured turkey last year for Thanksgiving for the first time from a farm down the road, and it was AMAZING. A heritage breed. Very small breasts relatively to your grocery turkey, but much moister and more tender (there was no dry white meat on the carcass--it was moist and rich and flavorful, and darker than usual---the breast meat kind of was the dark meat). The dark meat was tougher than usual, but had a very deep flavor. It all tasted like turkey, but then it didn't. It was fantastic and everyone declared it the best turkey they had ever had. I had this feeling of, Wow, it's amazing how quickly (1-2 generations) we can collectively forget how food is supposed to taste, and so accept and never interrogate the mass produced food we eat today, when flavors must have been very different in the past.

    Hoping eating our own chicken we have a similar experience!

    @chooks4life: Your post made me wonder, well, if that's really what it's like, maybe we should get more roosters and start raising our own meat & egg birds! Very interesting about genetics. We know now that stressful experiences our grandparents may have suffered (war, famine, natural disaster) affect our health, even if our parents and us ourselves were raised in very different environments. I see no reason why the same shouldn't be true for chickens. It makes me want to raise our own chickens ourselves since the ones we have now do free range, eat pristine, organic food, whole grains (did a bit of fermenting, now experimenting with sprouting), lots of fresh stuff, worms, mealworms, bsf's, etc. (It all sounds crazy, but it's really not that much work since most of it (except for the grain inputs) are integrated with our garden and our waste disposal.) They are very happy chickens!

    Sadly, improving the genetic or epigenetic fortunes of our flock is out of reach for us right now. We have 2+ acres, but are in the suburbs, and while our neighbors aren't super close, the rooster sound is so iconic, that I am afraid someone down the street might start complaining. There's no chicken ordinance here, and I don't want to give the town a reason to write one (it won't end up being in our favor.) Every time a truck goes by on the main road or the neighbor's dog barks or a flock of migrating starlings flies overhead, they drown out our birds, so I don't think objections to backyard birds some folks might have are always rational. Roosters at 6am are a little much, though, granted.

    If you weren't in Australia, I might ask if you'd be willing to sell me some of your hatching eggs :) You have got me thinking about forgoing the internet/mail order hatcheries and seeing if I can't find someone local who uses similar practices as I do to raise their birds, and buying direct from them.

    If you were buying a breed (as opposed to eating your own mixed breeds), what would be your favorite(s) for meat? For dual purpose?

    @kynewbie whoa
     
  6. DStewart PDX

    DStewart PDX Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Portland, Oregon
    I'm glad you're thinking about raising your own meat birds. It matters a lot, I think! I did my first batch this year, and man, was it eye-opening! I've kept layers for years, and I did a lot of research before selecting a breed. Based on the hatchery information I chose a breed called "Heritage White", which was billed as a truly free-range meat bird capable of foraging. That was not true at all. The Heritage White is, in fact, best suited for factory production. It had giant, flavorless breasts, too. Blech! Unfortunately, at the time I was researching the breed, there was no information available on BYC about it. I have since written a breed review for BYC. I would stick with breeds that you can read several people's experiences with on BYC. I'm now doing a batch of Muscovy ducks. Getting ready to take the first one in a few minutes. Here's hoping he's delicious!
     
  7. kynewbchickie

    kynewbchickie Chillin' With My Peeps

    I've heard that Dark Cornish are sustainable, will forage, but yield good meat flavor and tenderness too.
     
  8. aoxa

    aoxa Overrun With Chickens

    Note that if you bake them, they will be more tough. Some people aren't used to this. I am not. I like a tender bird. I have never successfully cooked a dual purpose rooster over 16 weeks in a short amount of time. They end up stringy and on the tough end - especially the legs, thighs and anywhere but the breast (which is very small).

    I do both heritage and meat birds. I slow cook my heritage boys. Just my preference. Don't expect to bake a rooster for 2 hours and get a tender, fall off the bone and juicy chicken. If you slow cook them you will. The flavour is much more noticeable in older birds. It's a very good flavour if you ask me. It's just the texture I don't care for (unless slowly cooked)
     
  9. kynewbchickie

    kynewbchickie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Slow cook = crock pot in broth for, say, 8-12 hours?
     
  10. rosiekitty94

    rosiekitty94 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 7, 2013
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    In about a month I'm getting ready to process my accidental 6 RIR roos. They will be 5 months old. I'm hoping they're good because my uncle is coming out to help with the processing and his payment for the help is one of the dressed birds. My plan is to brine them as soon as they're dressed and freeze as many as possible.
     

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