Rooster Slaughter Day – In the Kitchen at the Blush Family Farm

Yesterday we slaughtered four roosters.  John is going to do a post about the experience of slaughtering, I’m going to post about what we made after!  I will add a link to this article once he has posted his!

Becoming self sufficient and raising your own food is a series of trials and errors.  This is true for gardening, cooking, canning, chickens, water collection, etc….  Rooster slaughters are particularly mixed for me because I am a vegetarian.  I feel full of gratitude every time one of our birds becomes food for our family and love sharing this experience with friends and family.  With that being said, its hard for me to actually consume the birds as I have been a vegetarian since 2003 and become physically ill when I eat the flesh.  I can, on the other hand, eat the broth from bone soup quite easily.

So every time we do a slaughter I enjoy the challenge of figuring out what to do with the meat.  Here is what we did this time, including any lessons learned.

Our first bird was barbequed on the grill.  I didn’t get any pics, but it was a hit!  After the slaughter was over we let the meat breathe for a few hours and seasoned with fresh garden herbs and some dried herbs.  John started the grill mid-day and we smoked the bird for 4 hours.  Of course, free range home grown chicken is more tough than factory farmed chicken, so some of our guests made comments about the tough texture.  Those who had consumed backyard chickens before LOVED the dish and ate most of the bird.

The second bird was used to make two things.  Our first attempt at chicken jerky and bone soup.

You can find the recipe we used for the chicken jerky here.

The bone soup didn’t go as well as planned 🙁

In the past we have cooked our chicken, bones, feet and all, in water for about 24 hours to make yummy broth.  This time we did the same, including lots of garden veggies and fresh herbs.  See the picture of all our garden selection added to the soup!

The first problem happened when I overflowed our Berky Water filter.  To not waste good filtered water I poured two pitchers full of water into the soup that had been cooking for about 3 hours.  This watered it down so much it tasted very very bland.

To overcome this, I upped the heat, removed the lid, added more spice and added flax seed mill to thicken it up.  Then, for the overnight cook, I put the stove on low and went to bed. Unfortunately I woke up today to a burnt taste in the soup.  I’m not sure what to do to over come the problem, but its still sitting on the stove with only one bowl consumed by me. I think it was turning up the heat to steam off the water.  I wish I hadn’t done this, but alas, I did.  Have you ever burnt soup?  How do you overcome this?

I’m bummed about the soup and feel obligated to eat it nonetheless, since one of our birds gave their life to make it!

To see more photos of the day, please visit our family blog www.blushfamilyfarm.com

 

Home grown chicken jerky recipe

This blog post is an addendum to this post about our recent rooster slaughter.

* please see the safety warnings at the bottom of this post*

The chicken jerky experiment was a huge hit.  I found a recipe on the Yankee Kitchen Ninja website for a an Asian inspired marinade. The marinade smelled delicious and John raved about the taste when the jerky was complete.

I will paste the recipe below (originally posted here), then make comments about changes I made.

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Chicken Jerky (adapted from Preserve It Naturally: The Complete Guide to Food Dehydration)

Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast tenders, sliced into strips about 1/4 to 1/8 of an inch thick
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions:
Mix all the ingredients except the chicken in a gallon-sized ziplock bag. Add the chicken strips, seal the bag and ensure that all the meat gets coated with marinade. Place bag in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.

Place the meat strips on dehydrator trays. Dry at 145 degrees for 5-7 hours or until completely dry (length of drying time depends on thickness of strips).

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We used much less meat since this was just a trial run.  I used organic soy sauce, lemon juice, crushed fresh garlic, black pepper and fresh ground ginger.  The fresh garlic and ginger being the only changes to the recipe.  I did make the full marinade and used the smaller amount of meat and left it in the fridge a bit longer, so our jerky had a stronger flavor than the recipe used above would.  I think I would triple the recipe above if we were to make it using the full amount of chicken!

*safety warnings*

My friend Mariana gave some warnings and advice about using this recipe when I posted it online – please read her comments below:

And by the way, it’s not exactly that chicken spoils easy (it doesn’t spoil any easier than any other meat), it’s that commercial poultry is subject to procedures during processing that just about assure that every commercial bird you get is tainted with Salmonella. Salmonella can reproduce rapidly if food is kept in the temperature “danger zone” but remember, “FATTOM” — in order to control for pathogens, temps are not the only thing we have control over. FATTOM stands for “Food” (i.e. bacteria need something to eat in order to proliferate), “Acid/alkaline” (salmonella likes a pH around 6.5 to 7.5 IIRC), “Time” (bacteria double and double again very quickly over time, salmonella is pretty rapid), “Oxygen” (whether or not the pathogen is aerobic, anaerobic or facultative — in this case, Salmonella is facultative, meaning it will grow under BOTH conditions, but better under lower O2 conditions), and LASTLY, M – for “Moisture”.

The only reason you can even MAKE jerky of any kind is because bacteria need moisture. Because Salmonella has a high moisture requirement (called “water activity”) it is easier to kill the salmonella by drying it out, HOWEVER, please be very aware of cross contamination (which can happen even with your own birds, non-commercial!), since you might have your chicken dried out, but if Salmonella gets on other foods, they may not be subject to the same controls (i.e., there’s no such thing as chocolate jerky, and salmonella loves things like chocolate, nut butters, etc.). Also, if you plan to rehydrate meats before using them, it’s probably a good idea to bring them to proper temp in order to kill bacteria.

I don’t mean to be a party pooper, but I learned all about this in school this year and it was a real eye opener. Unsurprisingly, factory farming practices are THE WORST public health hazards, promoting anti-biotic resistant strains of ALL bad bacteria. We’ve painted ourselves into a food corner……

Today’s food safety lecture is over…….. forewarned is forearmed, and we love love forearmed!!!