How to cook a homegrown chicken

Roast chickenNearly
every chicken slaughtering and butchering tutorial I’ve run across ends
when the guts leave the bird.  Our own
butchering video
guilty of this omission because we simply didn’t know any better. 
Although our grandparents probably knew exactly what to do when that
bird reached their kitchen, I for one have spent years figuring out the
best way to cook a chicken.  Here are a few tips I’ve compiled
over the last few years of cooking my own chickens.

for rigor
to relax before cooking your bird. 
You’ve probably heard that
good beef is aged for several days before eating, but did you know that
you should age chicken meat as well?  The easiest method is to put
the whole chicken in your fridge for a couple of days (after it has
been plucked, deheaded, and eviscerated, of course.)  Many people
who complain that their homegrown chickens are tough probably skipped
this step.

the skin on.
Some backyard chicken keepers like to save time by skinning the chicken
rather than plucking the feathers.  However, they’re missing out
on real chicken flavor.  The tastiest chicken is
roasted with the skin on, allowing
the fat from the skin to infuse the meat.

Chicken potstickersOld chickens are best turned into sausage.  So, you want to retire
that hen who has stopped laying or the rooster who picks on your
biddies — can you eat them?  The meat of an old chicken will be
extremely stringy even if you
the bird for a long time
, but the flavor is
phenomenal if you instead
the meat and turn it into potstickers or sausage
.  A meat grinder is
perfect for the job, but I’ve had good luck throwing the meat into a
food processor and fishing out the white tendons.

throw away the bones.
  If you go to the
trouble of raising your own chickens, you probably realize that the
entirety of the bird is precious.  Rather than throwing away the
bones after you’ve roasted a chicken, why not turn the carcass into
stock?  Homemade chicken stock is much tastier than storebought,
and is quite good for you (full of calcium from the bones.)  I
used to make complicated stock, but my current method involves throwing
the carcass, neck, and giblets into a big pot of water and boiling for
a couple of hours.  Toss this simple stock into a vegetarian dish
and trick carnivores into thinking they ate meat.

White Cochin with Rhode Island Red chick, pecking at the groundStill don’t
throw away the bones.
  Once you strain out
the chicken stock, you’ll be left with a good bit of meat and
bones.  It’s not safe to feed cooked poultry bones to your dog,
and if your cat is as spoiled as mine, he probably won’t eat it. 
However, you can put the carcass back in the chicken
and give your flock a boost.  Factory farmers have
given this method a bad reputation, but if you know that the bird you
ate was healthy (and why else would you have eaten it?), it’s perfectly
safe to feed the remains to the other chickens.  Chickens are not
vegetarians, and their health will improve markedly when given a bit of
animal protein from time to time.

We end our chicken food
cycle there, allowing anything that’s left to enrich our compost pile,
but we’ve considered grinding the bones into bone meal to perk up our
laying flock.  Has anyone had experience with grinding
bones?  What type of equipment did you use?

Give your broilers the best
possible quality of life before slaughter by using a
homemade chicken

Latest Comments

  1. Darlene February 1, 2014
  2. Darlene September 25, 2015

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