Yes, you read the headline correctly. Roasted rooster!
CUESA is testing a new pop-up farmer’s market close to our house at The Yard at Mission Rock. Once a month for the next three months we’ll be lucky enough to have some of our favorite vendors within a 2-minute walk. We’re hoping people will support it and are petitioning for this to become a permanent Sunday market. (CUESA, take note!) The location is perfect–mostly residential, with ample parking in the vacant lots by the pier. The market is less touristy and has a better community feel compared to the Saturday Ferry Plaza market.
Nigel explained that most farmers prefer hens since they lay eggs. You don’t need more than one rooster, so most roosters are killed as soon as they hatch. Nigel had the idea to keep his roosters, let them graze freely on the farm, and then use them for meat. He explained that the meat is leaner and more flavorful (not quite gamey, but much stronger than hen meat).
The Black Australorp that they raise is a dual purpose breed. The hens are good for egg-laying and roosters are good for the meat. It’s more work and money, but the hard work pays off. You can learn more about the fabulous rooster project here and check out the article in National Geographic.
Nigel deferred to his wife, Lorraine, on the best way to cook them. Her recommendation: covered (especially if you have a tagine), longer than a hen, and with little or no liquid. As we seasoned the rooster to prepare it for cooking, I noticed how pronounced the breast bone was, and how little breast meat it had, but their was a ton of meat on the thighs and legs. My brother pointed out that it is, in fact, a male and should not be expected to have large breasts. Point taken.
We threw a bunch of chopped veggies into a dutch oven and drizzled with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. We nestled the rooster into the veggies, drizzled the pan with a splash of cognac just to get some steam going, and slid the covered dutch oven into a 350 degree oven. Ninety minutes later…perfection. Carve and serve with a nice Zinfandel or Pinot.
One final point–it’s important to use the whole rooster. Nigel recommended using the bones to make an amazingly rich and gelatinous stock.
- 2 onions, large dice
- 2-3 carrots, peeled and cut roughly chopped
- 2-3 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- olive oil
- Splash of cognac
- 2-3 sprigs of thyme
- Season the bird on all sides with salt and pepper.
- Add all the vegetables to a large dutch oven and toss with some oil to coat, and season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Nestle the seasoned rooster in the vegetables, drizzle in a bit of cognac, and nestle the thyme sprigs into the dutch oven.
- Cover and cook undisturbed at 350 degrees for 90 minutes.