Every now and then, a rooster must be dispatched from the farm. Often I’ll see ads for free roosters to a good home –not to be eaten, but the likelihood of finding a home that does not involve a freezer or cock-fighting setup is slim. Putting the rooster in the stew pot is a time-honored way of living sustainably on the land, making use of all our resources.
Here are some of my favorite recipes, but you can use any chicken stew recipe. Your rooster will have so much more flavor than a grocery store chicken, organic or not, that you will finally understand why many old-timers (my 96 year old grandmother included) or foreigners complain that our chicken is tasteless.
The first think you have to do is age your rooster after you butcher. If you cook your rooster right away, it will be tough, tough, tough, no matter how long you stew. The meat will be chewier than grocery store chicken which is so flabby you can cut it with a fork, but remember this bird has been running around your yard, chasing off hawks and finding grubs for your hens. To age your bird, let the meat rest in the refrigerator for two to four days. I usually wait two or three days. Aging it in a bring also helps. If you only have 24 hours to age the bird, then definitely age it in a brine, or wine, or buttermilk, depending on your recipe.
My favorite recipes include Coq au Vin, Chicken Paprikash, a Corfu dish Pastisatha (my new favorite), Ajiaco (a delicious Columbian-style chicken stew), and good old boiled chicken to use in pot pies, enchiladas, etc.
I’ll add recipes for all my favorites, but here is the Corfu Rooster recipe to start. I originally found this from Gourmet magazine. A reader requested the recipe after vacationing on Corfu. If you use a grocery store hen, the recipe won’t have the outstanding flavor of a rooster, but it will still be good, and you won’t have to cook it nearly as long. I serve this with mashed or roasted potatoes and steam-sautéed greens. – Jen
Serving size depends on the bird
1 rooster, cut into pieces
7 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoon olive oil or lard
1 tablespoon tomato paste (or use some tomatoes)
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar (or cider vinegar)
2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
3 ½ cups water
½ cup dry white wine (or vermouth or other booze)
1 teaspoon sugar
Pat chicken dry.
Stir together cinnamon, salt, pepper and sprinkle over chicken.
Heat oil in a skillet and brown chicken in two batches on all sides, transfer to a plate
meanwhile, stir tomato paste and vinegar.
Add more oil to skillet if necessary and sauté onions till golden; about 6 minutes.
Stir in tomato mixture and simmer 1 minute. Stir in water, wine sugar and simmer uncovered, ~5 minutes.
Add chicken to pot and simmer, covered, until tender (1-3 hours, depending on how tough your rooster is).
Transfer cook chicken to a platter and boil sauce, uncovered, till reduced to about 2 ½ cups (about 10 minutes). Season with salt!