Last autumn we hatched out some dual purpose Ixworth chickens – see here for how and why we started with Ixworths, see here for a post on the chicks that we hatched out and here. We ended up with three hens and two cockerels. We were always going to eat the cockerels – that is the purpose of dual function breeds – no waste. You keep the hens for eggs and you eat the cockerels at 6 months – much better than them being gassed when they hatch which is what happens in both the commercial egg industry and when you buy hens to keep at home – the cockerels all go somewhere …..
But first we wanted to hatch out some more Ixworths from fertile eggs so we left the cockerels with the hens this spring (plus we killed the turkey so didn’t really want to eat a chicken – we don’t really eat that much meat.
Last week or so the silkies who were sitting hatched out some more Ixworth chicks – see here. They are magnificent animals.
However having sired some chicks, the cockerels were being quite troublesome: picking on each other, harassing the little blue-egg laying hen they live with AND cockadoodle-doing every morning from 4am onwards. This meant only one thing – it was time to kill them.
So last Sunday this is what we did. We separated them the night before in spare coops. Then in the morning we carefully picked them up (one at a time), took them to the cone, James stunned them and I cut their throats. Quick, calm and easy.
I then eviscerated and prepared them. They weighed in at over 2kg each – once they were prepared
Bring a pan of water (enough to cover the chicken) to the boil, add the chicken, cover and bring back to the boil for a few minutes. Then turn off the heat and leave covered for 24 hours. After 24 hours, remove the chicken – the perfectly poached meat will be tender and come easily off the bone. You will also be left with a huge pan of chicken stock.
What to do with the chicken meat?
I had some leeks in the garden so decided on leek and chicken pie.
Leek and Chicken Pie: one free-range poached chicken, leeks, onion, 250ml single cream, chicken stock (left over from poaching chicken), little bit of grated cheddar, 2tbs flour, seasoning. For the pastry: 400g plain flour, one egg yolk, 150g butter, pinch of salt, 6 or so tbs milk, 100g grated cheddar.
To make the pastry put the flour and butter in a food processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and milk and pulse until it comes together. Tip out onto a board and work into a ball, wrap and then leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
For the filling, gently fry the onion and leeks in a saucepan. Add some stock and simmer until the leeks are cooked. Make a roux with some of the stock and the flour, add in to the leeks to thicken. Add in the cream and season. You can adda little more stock if you want a looser sauce. Add in a little cheese if you want then pop in the chicken cut into nice-size pieces (whatever you think these may be).
Get a pie tin and line it with just a little more than half the pastry. Add filling. Roll out rest of the pastry and put on top as a lid. Press down the edges and make three slits in the top. Cook in an oven (180C) for 40 or so minutes – until golden brown.
It provides 6 very generous portions.
We had ours with salad from the garden – cucumber isn’t from the garden – my cucumbers (that I had grown from seed) died as soon as I put them out in the greenhouse last week – I am very very sad about this – but did find some more in the local garden centre.
N.B. of course you want to know what happened to the heads, legs, insides etc. Well I fried up the hearts and livers and had them on salad for lunch. And the dogs got the rest.
Interestingly, although Kainaat lives on heads, legs and chicken carcass he wouldn’t touch these – maybe he doesn’t want to eat chickens from our smallholding. Maybe he thinks it is a trick as he is not allowed to touch living poultry on the campsite. When we kill our egg layers I will have to freeze their carcass to try and disguise the fact that they are from our smallholding.