People eat rooster meat

Eating roosters in theory and practice: Coq au Vin

Ever since I read this greatest of all rooster stories years ago, I've always dreamed of cooking roosters. For a long time, however, the rooster was hardly available to non-farmers in Austria. Here I was allowed to watch and eat at least once, two weeks ago I finally got my hands on a rooster myself. At the same time, it looks as if we will all soon be eating a little more rooster - a kind of rooster twilight looms.

Starting next year, the male chicks in organic laying hens will no longer be shredded immediately after hatching, as before, but raised, fattened and then slaughtered (more details here and here). The fattening should take nine weeks, an unusually long life for an industrial hen.

That in itself is a positive development. On Facebook, however, I came across a critical posting by Reinhard Geßl, animal husbandry expert at the Research Institute for Organic Agriculture and, from what I've heard so far, a very sensible person. So I called him and asked what was bothering him about the plan. I find his points very interesting and they show how quickly things get complicated when it comes to food and the food industry. Who cares: details below.

In the past few years, several other, smaller rooster projects (Tonis Henne & Hahn, pioneering project Domestic Chicken & Gockelhahn) have been started, some of which rely on other breeds and fatten the roosters longer and larger. I have now happily cooked one of them despite all possible reservations - because I, like Mr. Geßl, find the idea very worthy of support in principle, because Gockel were delivered again last week and because you want to be prepared when the markets are full of taps again at some point are. Because it was my first self-cooked rooster, I approached the preparation very classically.

Before starting the recipe, one more request: Post or write to me about your favorite chicken suppliers: the butchers (or butchers) who sell chicken from small farmers, the small farmers who sell them directly from the farm, and also the slightly larger ones go out of their way to ensure their chickens and roosters a dignified life and a dignified death. All of the submissions should then be turned into a bigger story.

Coq au Vin, almost classic

In general, the rooster is a more likable animal than the common chicken, at least in the kitchen: it has a much smaller breast and much larger, fleshy knuckles. At the same time, it does not make it easy for the cook: His physique, especially his bones, are much stronger, which makes it difficult to disassemble. Its meat is firmer, which is why the rooster is not suitable for quick roasting. But those who devote time, love and their casserole to him will be rewarded: my rooster was tasty, tart and delicious, his legs and wings firm and juicy.

Because my last rooster had a slightly animal note, I resorted to strong spices and red wine. I made it more or less according to the Bocus recipe for Coq au Vin - without bacon (too dominant) and pearl onion (too hard to get), but with spring onion and a little ginger. Because cooked poultry skin is not too exciting, I partially skinned my bird before braising and processed the pieces into crispy cock skin chips - which are great to crunch with a glass of red wine or, in my case, a Rye Manhattan while one waits for the stew. I didn't eat the somewhat dry breast straight away, but made ragu a few days later.

If you are reading this at Rewe: Please sell your roosters, if not with head and feet, but at least with giblets, I would like to tie my sauce with the rooster liver.

Disassemble your rooster into its individual parts: legs, wings, breast and carcass. Skin the breast and carcass and make chicken skin chips out of them as soon as you have the time.

Put a lot of butter in a roaster and let it get hot but not brown. Fry all of your rooster pieces - including the carcass - neatly all around until they are a nice color. Extinguish the remains of the roast with red wine and let it boil down. I chose a really strong Blaufränkisch from here that is far too good for cooking. The sauce was really sensational - if I can afford it, I'll use good cooking wine more often in the future.

Cut a bunch of spring onions (including greens) into thirds, quarter 250 grams of mushrooms, peel and squeeze a thumb-sized piece of ginger a little, and fry everything in the caramelized red wine-butter mixture for a few minutes. Extinguish again with red wine and let it boil down again. You can hardly repeat this step often enough with all stews - delete and caramelize as long as you have enough wine and patience.

Put all the rooster parts and the chopped up carcass in the casserole, throw in a bouquet of spices (thyme, parsley, bay leaf, whatever you like) and pour red wine over the whole thing until the rooster parts are at least halfway in the brew .

If you don't have enough wine or if you prefer to drink it yourself, add chicken soup or, if necessary, water.

Put the lid on, put it in the oven at 150 degrees, fry the chicken skin chips, drink a cocktail or wine and wait 90 minutes. The rooster is ready when the meat is no longer too adorned when you want to detach it from the bone.

Take the meat, the mushrooms and the white parts of the spring onion out of the roaster and let it rest in any amount of the stock. Put the rest of the stock in a large pan or saucepan and reduce it to about a third. Just before serving, mix in lots of nut-sized pieces of ice-cold butter with a whisk (monter au beurre, says the French) until the sauce thickens. Put the vegetables, sauce and rooster on a plate, add potatoes or noodles and be amazed how much character a chicken can have.

Problems with the rooster mast

Mr. Geßl also likes the idea of ​​the rooster pole in itself, but also sees problems: "We are faced with a dilemma here," he says. "On the one hand we don't want to kill the rooster chicks, so that's very welcome from an animal welfare point of view. On the other hand, we also have to weigh up whether feeding and raising them make sense at all or whether we don't have to accept slaughtering the male chicks for the time being."

The roosters need a comparatively large amount of time and feed to achieve a low slaughter weight - at slaughter the animals would be about half the size of normal fattening hens (which is why a separate slaughterhouse has to be built for them). "Grain is also an expensive and valuable commodity in organic farming that is supposed to feed people. When it is 'refined' into meat, it must be done as responsibly and sustainably as possible," says Gessl. It is questionable whether the Hahn project meets these criteria.

High performance hybrid breeding

One of the pillars of the project is the use of a chicken breed that is said to be suitable both as a laying hen and as a fattening animal - experts call this a dual-purpose chicken. The problem with this, however, is that this egg-laying woolly milk sow does not yet exist: "The meat performance is a genetically male characteristic, the laying performance a female one. I cannot breed for both at the same time," says Gessl. The hybrid breeding "Lohmann Sandy", which lays up to 320 eggs a year, is to be used in the new cockerel project. For comparison: an organic laying hen currently lays around 300 eggs a year, a conventionally kept hen up to 340. "With such a laying performance, I cannot seriously speak of a dual-purpose chicken," says Gessl. "Then the child gets a new name."

The roosters should only be fattened to a weight of about one kilo - significantly smaller than the usual meat hen. They are not really suitable for sale as roast chicken. So far it is unclear what will happen to the high-quality, expensive meat - it will probably be sold to bulk buyers for further processing.

In general: the poultry market is a cheap market, a kilo of conventional chicken meat can be had for less than four euros - an organic rooster must cost around 20 euros per kilo. "What is this offer displacing on the market? Certainly not the conventional chicken," says Gessl. His hope for the future: "that the current organic project represents the start of a general extensification and greening of poultry farming in Austria." (Tobias Müller, May 31, 2015)