Thursday, July 16, 2015

About Roosters....

I promise that this is not going to be one of those Watch-Us-Slaughter-Our-Chickens-Because-We-Are-Survivalists, complete with gory pictures kinds of posts.  If that is what you are looking for Google has too many suggestions.  However I am aware that some of you prefer to believe that all meat comes in little pink styrofoam containers from the grocery store.  You might want to skip this post.

Recently in one of my homestead updates, I made the comment that we had 29 chickens and that was too many. 

One of the reasons we had so many is that we raise our own chickens.  We hatch out eggs periodically.

The hens replace the older girls who aren't laying anymore. 

The males, on the other hand, are raised for one reason.  Meat.  We keep one rooster around for breeding and for protection.  If he gets too aggressive, than the next time we hatch one we keep it and slaughter the aggressive one.  But the primary reason we raise roosters is for meat.  Or as my Dad says, "for expeditions to the North Pole".  Because they go into the freezer.

A couple of weeks ago we looked at the calendar.  The boys were 16 weeks old, which is a good age to harvest them.  They were having Crow-Offs every morning starting at 4 am.  They were definitely the right age to harvest!  So one weekend we got busy.  We had six to harvest and one to keep (he had the prettiest tail-feathers and was the most gentle). 
On the steep side of the hill behind the house, Mr. Marvelous has set up a killing cone on one of the trees (it is also known as the Cone of Silence). 
He does his part and after a few more minutes brings them over to me to pluck.  Things were going smoothly; it wasn't the first time we had done this and we have our little routine.  After the fourth roo was introduced to the Cone of Silence, Mr. Marvelous wandered over to see if I needed any help.  Yes, as a matter of fact, I did!  There were yellow jackets buzzing around and making a nuisance of themselves and my hands were full of feathers.  Would he please kill them?  He did and all was well; no stings to either of us.  He walked back over to the cone to retrieve #4 only to discover was not there!!!

Have you ever heard the expression, "Running around like a chicken with its head cut off"?  That stupid rooster had jumped out of the cone and started running!  We looked all through the back garden.  I started pulling up the weeds to see if it was under them.  We finally realized that the idiot rooster had gone down the hill!  Did I mention that we were set up on the steepest part of the hill?!
Not the greatest picture, but hopefully it gives you some idea of what we were dealing with.

Poor Mr. Marvelous had to make the trip down the hill, hanging on to the trees for dear life.  I was tramping around the greenhouse hoping that it was still at the top and not in the poison ivy.

Mr. Marvelous finally found it about 3/4 of the way to the bottom of the hill.  Then he had to try and come back up with a rooster in one hand and hanging onto the trees with the other.

We now have six chickens in the freezer.  And we know not to leave them in the Cone of Silence even if they are already dead.  Even if the wife is being bothered by yellow-jackets!

And now here is my favorite recipe for home-raised chickens.

Brine the bird overnight in the Pioneer Woman Turkey Brine.  She has the best recipe for this.

Take the bird out of the brine and let it dry off for a few minutes.  I don't rinse mine.
Make a rub using the following.  If you don't have the fresh cut herbs, you may substitute dried herbs or just omit what you don't have (it's called making-do).

2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
fresh cut rosemary
fresh cut sage
fresh cut thyme

Drizzle the chicken with olive oil, then rub the rub all over it.  I usually stuff the bird with an onion sliced in half, some celery (if I have it) and an orange or an apple (if I have it).  Place a rack in the bottom of your large crock-pot.  I use a 6 quart.  If you don't have a rack, take an aluminum pie plate and cut slits in it and lay it in the pot, or crumple up 3 pieces or so of aluminum foil and put those in the bottom.  Place the chicken in the crock-pot breast-side up, cover, and cook on low for a minimum of 4-5 hours.  The nice thing about crock pots is that you can leave it longer if you need to.  Be aware that if you leave it too long you will be eating your chicken in chunks instead of nicely sliced.  You could also place it in the oven at 350 I suppose, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Because of the time to make the brine and soak it in the brine, this is something you need to plan ahead.  It is worth every moment of time it takes to make!

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