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Old hens for the table

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Sunny Side Up, Oct 28, 2010.

  1. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

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    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Although I've processed & consumed a lot of young cockerels & roosters, last weekend was the first time I've processed old hens. I'm still too much of a soppy sentimentalist to dispatch my own granny hens, but I helped some friends learn how to process their non-layers. They weren't sure just how old they all were, around 2-3 years they thought. They gave me 2 of the finished hens for my family.

    Don't think that old hens are too tough to eat. I got these girls as tender as cake!

    They rested in the refrigerator for 4 full days, then I put them in a big stock pot and covered them with water. To the water I added some chopped onion & garlic cloves, some bay leaves & some pepper. Then I covered the pot and let it simmer gently for about 4 hours.

    When the meat was falling off the bones I removed it all and set it on a plate, and then strained the broth and returned it to the stove. The broth was brought to a gentle boil, and I cooked some chopped carrots & celery in it for several minutes, then added dry noodles & chopped scallions to cook for a few minutes more. While they cooked I removed all the tender meat from the bones, chopped it up, and added it to the soup right at the end.

    It was [​IMG] SOUPer deeeeeelicious!!! [​IMG]

    This is giving me more courage to bring some of my own non-laying hens in for the table. My oldest hens are some of our very first chickens, and it's difficult for me to decide to dispatch them. I've already decided that all new hens added to the flock will be considered candidates for the soup pot once they reach retirement age. And I may even be able to process some of the others already in the flock. There are a few who have gotten really hefty, they make my mouth water when I pick them up & feel how meaty they are!
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Totally agree. Cook it long, slow, and moist and it can be delicious. I find older chickens stringier than the real young ones, but still very tender if cooked right, if that makes sense. I just have to floss after the meal instead of waiting until bedtime like I nomally do.

    I baked an 11 month old rooster yesterday after aged in salt water only one day in the fridge, already cut into parts. I softened carrots, celery, and onion, browned the chicken pieces, then added basil, thyme, oregano, a bay leaf, and chicken broth. Four hours in the oven at 325. Very nice.

    I make my own chicken broth. I know I could use a pot on the stove and get it done faster, but I cook the chicken back, wings, neck, gizzard, and heart (skin still on appropriate pieces) in a crock pot overnight with carrots, celery, onions, and whatever herbs I feel like. Separate out the meat. That meat is great for chicken tacos, chicken pasta, chicken salad, whatever you use cooked chicken for. I strain the liquid and separate the fat. What you are left with is tremendously delicious chicken broth. You might feel better about processing your older girls if you use them more thoroughly. They have lived a good life and very little goes to waste.
     

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