We cooked our third cockerel (young rooster), and are completely pleased with the results. I roasted the first one, and the dark meat was pretty tough because the cockerels were 6 months old at processing time. The second time, I made coq au vin, and it was tasty but a little time consuming.
For the third cockerel, I searched for recipes about cooking a whole chicken in the slow cooker. Most recipes said to just rub it with spices, and put the whole thing in for 6-8 hours on low, maybe with some onions. I had to restrain myself from adding liquid, and it really did make its own liquid in the bottom of the slow cooker. The chicken turned out perfectly! I started the slow cooker at night, and in the morning I was able to quickly pull off all the meat (pictured above). The dark meat on a heritage bird is a beautiful rosy color.
Then the bones went back in the slow cooker with some onion, carrots, and celery. I added water to the top and cooked that for 24 hours to make bone broth. It’s the best bone broth I’ve made so far in taste and texture. The cooled bone broth is gelatinous, like it’s supposed to be. In fact, this bone broth is so rich in flavor that it tastes like beef broth!
Greer took the shredded chicken and sauteed it in a little orange marmalade, fish sauce, and red pepper flakes for a fabulous spicy orange chicken that he served over cauliflower “rice.” It made two hearty lunches for us.
We are thrilled with this process because it makes rich-in-flavor chicken that is versatile for cooking AND nourishing bone broth. Using the whole bird makes us feel good about raising the birds for this purpose, and inspires us to perhaps raise more than we had originally thought we would this year. In the past, chicken has not been our protein of choice, but the flavor on these home-raised heritage roosters has persuaded us otherwise.