Every chicken keeper needs to have a strategy for what to do with the superfluous roosters. Are you going to sell them, give them away, just put up with them, give them (secretly) to a neighbor, or eat ’em?
I vote the latter. I had two accomplished hens last summer show up with chicks. You remember, don’t you, Gentle Reader? I wrote about patient Helen, who sat in a nest in the compost bin, and hatched out four adorable balls of fluff in July. A broody hen successfully hatching out chicks, subsequently becoming a mama, is always cause for rejoicing at our place, where we love babies of every stripe and species.
But here’s the thing: out of four chicks born, one or two or three of them will be male, and will–within months–be strutting, crowing, posturing, scrabbling young roosters. To keep too many roosters in your flock will destroy the peace of the hen house and the farmyard. They will embarrass you in front of your friends. They will wake up your neighbors. They may chase your toddlers. They will bring sorrow to your house.
We perpetually have too many roosters: doggonit, those little bantam roosters are so cute, they always earn names (“Steve Brody,” “Colonel Klink,” “Sir Galahad,” “Fezzick,” to name a few) and the named chickens are here forever. But I regularly butcher the bigger roosters, to keep the hens from getting too much attention (ahem) and the barnyard from being too crazy.
I like a rooster or two, I really do: but in terms of rooster, a little goes a long way.
Recently we butchered the “Idiot Quads,” the four mixed-breed roosters that had been driving me crazy for a few months, and I socked two of them away into our (o’erful) freezer, and put two of them in my biggest stockpot to eat with dumplings for supper.
This recipe is ease in itself, so if you’ve spent time culling roosters and don’t feel like spending much time in the kitchen, but you need a terrifically delicious dinner to feed to your butchering crew, you’re all set with this recipe. Also you don’t have to use roosters: a meaty old hen will work just as well, as will a chicken from the store. The only hard part is cutting the thing up (unless you keep your knives sharper than I do mine . . . which . . . you probably do).
Here’s the recipe:
- 1 large 3- to 4-pound chicken or rooster, cut into serving pieces
- 3 whole cloves
- 2 large onions, cut into quarters
- 6 carrots, peeled and cut into quarters
- 8 to 10 fresh mushrooms, cleaned and halved
- 2 large cloves garlic, smashed and diced
- 1 tsp fresh sweet marjoram, finely chopped
- 1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 4 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup dry white wine
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- Herbed Dumplings:
- 2 cups flour
- 1 Tb baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup melted butter
- 1 Tb honey
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 Tb chopped fresh herbs (parsley and/or thyme and/or chives are very nice)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Butter a deep, oven-proof casserole dish that can also be put on stove-top burner, or a dutch oven with a lid.
- Remove excess skin and fat from chicken pieces, and put into casserole.
- Stick cloves into the onion pieces.
- Add all vegetables, herbs, and seasonings, and pour the wine over all.
- Cover casserole and bake in oven until chicken is barely tender, about 1 to 2 hours (the rooster will take longer to become tender). Don't overcook!
- (Note: if you want to double this recipe and make it in your big stock pot, it works just as well to cook it on the stovetop.)
- Make dumpling dough: Mix dry ingredients in medium bowl.
- Mix wet ingredients, then add wet to dry, mixing until dough begins to come together.
- Remove casserole from oven, and put on stove top, on medium heat. Stir sour cream into the casserole, and when the chicken and vegetables are just bubbling, drop the dumplings from a teaspoon all around the edge of the casserole. Simmer 10 minutes uncovered, and then 10 minutes covered.
- Serve right away, giving each diner a generous portion of stew and several fluffy dumplings.
Please let me know in the comments if you make this recipe. I’ll be thinking aboutcha! *hugs*
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