Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The day two roosters died

I hate to see food wasted, so when Cliff kept offering to shoot the two surplus roosters and haul their bodies to the ditch, I kept putting him off until a convenient time came to butcher them... even though every day they lived was a waste in itself, because they seemed to be eating their weight in costly chicken feed.  Not only that, but the hens were getting assaulted about four times per hour, much against their will.  There were also daily, sometimes bloody, battles between the roosters as each of them attempted to become the reigning master of the harem.  See, there are nine hens out there.  One rooster can easily handle twenty or so hens.  Too many roosters, not enough hens means open warfare.  

The last rooster we butchered turned out to be very tough, stringy, and chewy, even after boiling his carcass for hours.  A friend told me she had the same experience with older roosters.  These birds weren't really "old", having hatched out in late June, but if you are after a tender bird, one you might use for frying, it needs to be butchered by the age of twelve weeks.  When I told my cousin, who was raised on the farm, about our experience with the tough meat, she informed me that a pressure cooker would solve the problem.  So I invested in the cheapest aluminum pressure cooker I could find.  It's a four-quart model, which is really tiny.  Looking back, I wish I had spent twice the money and gotten a larger, stainless steel cooker.  That's the story of my life: spend in haste, regret at leisure.  

Sunday we butchered the roosters.  I left one carcass submerged under water for twenty-four hours, but the other I brought straight into the kitchen, cut him up enough for his whole body to fit in my tiny pressure cooker, and followed instructions in the book that came with my cooker.  The longest time suggested for a whole chicken was fifteen minutes, so once the jiggler started jiggling, that's what I punched into the timer on my microwave.  

He came out tough and stringy.  Unwilling to toss him out, I cut the meat up in tiny pieces against the grain, put the pieces in the broth, and made noodles, which were delicious.  The meat had a wonderful flavor, but we had to do quite a bit of chewing.

"Maybe leave it in the pressure pan longer?"  Cliff suggested.  

So next day, I cooked the second rooster for twenty-five minutes.  

Success!  We each had a bite of the meat, and it was tender, not chewy at all.  

No, I didn't make chicken and noodles two days in a row.  I deboned the chicken and put the meat and broth in a gallon freezer bag for FUTURE noodles.  But now I know that sometimes you have to play around with the timing when you're using a pressure cooker.  

I sure do wish I had gotten a bigger, stainless steel cooker, though.   

Here is the pan I bought for $25:

HERE is the one I wish I had purchased.  The cost is $45.99.  Half again the size, and it's stainless steel.  


Barbara In Caneyhead said...

If you kill those extra roosters while they are still young, they make some mighty fine frying chickens.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

Glad you had success with the 2nd one. Now you know for future reference what to do. It's nice to have some chicken waiting to be used without all the fuss as you've already done that. I imagine those hens are thankful too.


At least you got it right on the second bird. Sounds like you had a delicious meal.

Sister--Three said...

You making me wish for that cooker!

Margaret said...

I don't like chewy meat, so I'm glad it worked better the second time!