Can a rooster be cooked to taste better than an old boot?

Thu Feb 28, 2008 2:37 am

After 15 years of neighborhood living my family moved back to a rural home. This was about 4 years ago. My wife wanted horses but I remembered the work involved when I was a kid and knew it would fall on me if I gave in. Vet and ferrier bills, nope not now. Maybe when I retire. Chickens! I'd like to raise chickens she said. Well not that I know all that much about chickens but ok, I agreed we'd do that.
Poor planning and preparation be damned it happened that I was at a flea market last summer saw some chicks, Rhoad island reds, and bought some, 20. Roosters, hens, dunno? Figured we'd eat the extra roosters.
Mind you with no housing prepared in advance. We setup a pen in the barn, provided heat and managed to raise 18 in all. 8 hens 10 roosters.
I built...well over-built, a proper 10x6' hen house that looks great in the back yard and provides warmth and shelter from the elements. The hens provide about 6 eggs a day which is working really well for us.
The problem is what to do with the roosters. We harvested one rooster which looked great in the pot but on the plate was as tough as an old boot. The legs were the darkest meat I ever saw for chicken, or at least that I've eaten. Still the problem remains, most of the roosters have got to go. They are beating up on the hens and each other so in the morning I've been separating them when they are let out. Hens in the pen and house, roosters free ranging. This gives the hens a break.
What I really want to know is does anyone know how to cook a rooster to make it tender and taste good?
Or...If you live in New Jersey do you want a free rooster?


Thu Feb 28, 2008 5:51 am

I grew up having chickens I was not a fan but my mother liked them. When we raised them to eat they were fed differently and not given a lot of room to roam. I also think they were butchered as soon as they reached a certain size. As I recall 30yrs ago old laying hens and roosters ended up in the soup pot where they simmered for hours so my suggestion is make chicken soup.

Thu Feb 28, 2008 6:47 am

Most chickens you buy in the store are 6 weeks old. Free range is the soup pot as joe said.

Thu Feb 28, 2008 7:37 am

Smoker grill, when you have the time. Baste him with olive oil and garlic, throw your favorite seasoning in the cavity, slow smoke him until the inside reads, on a thermometer, 170 degrees and the meat will fall off the bone. Begin checking with the thermometer after about an hour and a half so that you don't get him over done, one of the prime reasons for a tough bird. I love cajun food, so I have a cajun rub that I put on after the olive oil and throw a couple of tablespoons inside the cavity, hhhhmmmmm, good.

Thu Feb 28, 2008 9:56 am

Julia Child would tell you to make Coq au Vin (prounounced coke-o-van), which in English means nasty rooster stewed in the good stuff until it's tender and tastes like the goodies in the pot. It's a classic French recipe to address the same reality of farming you face- at least half can't lay eggs!

There are lots of recipes for it on the internet. We have used up our neighbor's roosters on the recipe and enjoyed every one.

Thu Feb 28, 2008 10:59 am

Em and I never wasted a bird. The roosters were even used. They are also known as Capons, and command a premium price in the grocery market.

Rusty is correct, Coq au Vin is a classic French Recipe for capon/rooster which turns it into a very nice tasty and tender dish. Has a stronger flavour.. but that is to be expected. Much like wild game birds actually. Tangy.

A good Merlot added oh about 5 mins prior to serving the dish on top of the Merlot used to slow roast/bake/simmer the bird adds a je n'est c'est quoi to the meal and can really be quite stunning.

Em and I just had Coq au Vin last Saturday evening and it was exquisite. Check the net for recipies and look for one that is served with home made pasta, spinach and broccoli with mushrooms, wine and black pepper. You will not be disappointed. I have yet to be disappointed providing you take the time to cook the capon properly.

Actually a more correct pronounciation than coke-o-van... would be pronounced cock oh vein with the n being silent and a heavy eahnnnn... hard to spell it phonetically. Also the Coq sounds very similar to the cocking a gun.. for more clearer explanation. Dialect may also play a part.


Thu Feb 28, 2008 12:52 pm

As I recall a Capon is the STEER of the chicken world, but the items in question are too small to make into any sort of oysters! :shock:
That French soup sounds good.

Thu Feb 28, 2008 3:42 pm

Yup- Capon is a "fixed" bird, and I've made more of 'em than I care to think about-- mostly with a chemical injection, which is disfavored these days.

Some of the discontent faced here might also be because of the breed- Rhode Islands are not a meat bird, but an efficient egg making machine. They're going to be tougher than the standard cornish-rock cross no matter how old they are, how they're raised or what parts they lose in the process. My great grandmother used to say you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. But coq au vin will sure make it taste better!

Thu Feb 28, 2008 7:28 pm

I raise Rhode Island Reds and they are considered a "dual purpose" bird. Good for meat and good for eggs. One problem with tough meat is the ageing time. The bird, after butchering, must age for 2 -3 days for the meat to become tender. That goes for many kinds of meat (not fish). The roosters I butcher are between 16 - 24 weeks old. If they free roam, the meat will be darker. The Cornish cross (broilers) are butchered at about 6 - 8 weeks. They grow faster than weeds and what their legs can hold. Any chicken over a year old is OK for the stew or soup pot. As mentioned, some good recipes above.

Thu Feb 28, 2008 7:55 pm

Put the rooster in the pot and Boil it for about 2 hours, put some vegetables in make a real good chicken stew. Make sure the rooster is whole for the crucial part.
The crucial part: when you are done boiling the stew pull out the rooster throw it in the trash and eat the stew.

Fri Feb 29, 2008 12:11 am

And for crying out loud, Jeff Silvey, make sure the rooster is dead before you put it in the pot. :lol: :lol: :lol:

Fri Feb 29, 2008 2:00 am

Thanks I had a feeling that a stew or soup would be the answer.
Ron you've said "The bird, after butchering, must age for 2 -3 days for the meat to become tender. " Are you saying that if we let it sit in the fridge for a couple of days before cooking the meat will improve?
That sounds too easy. But would be good to hear.
Oh and your right they did grow really fast! Ours are about eight months old now.

Fri Feb 29, 2008 7:39 am

In all honesty look for a local livestock sale and sell them. We have a sale barn down here in South Jersey, They can bring up $15 a piece in the summer. Just think of the nice tender chicken breast you can buy with that money.
Also if you want to try something that will make the rooster taste great. go get some banny chickens. Small as a fist and tough as nails.

Fri Feb 29, 2008 10:49 am

I had the same problem years ago so we processed one rooster at a time. A couple of tricks I was told about by an oldtimer was to calm the bird before laying it across the chopping block by cradling it like a baby and rubbing their neck where the feed sits after they've eaten. Then the axe or cleaver swing has to be quick and clean. After the bird has been processed refridgeration for a couple of days makes all the difference. Before we used these tricks eating a bird was tiring from all the chewing.

P.S. The capes are good to keep if you are into tying your own flies or know someone who does. I've seen barred rock capes go for decent money on ebay. There is info on the internet about how to clean them after you remove them.

Fri Feb 29, 2008 8:36 pm

[quote="RustyVT"]Yup- Capon is a "fixed" bird, and I've made more of 'em than I care to think about-- mostly with a chemical injection, which is disfavored these days.

How did you know which ones to fix? Did you inject them all and it only affected the males? I know vent checking of day old chicks is a very specialized art more than a science. Feather checking only works on certain breeds for day olds. It works better on crosses.