Archive for February 17th, 2009

Nemo: the results

So, having done The Deed, plucked him and gutted him, we discovered that Leghorn x Buff Orpingtons don’t, in fact, carry a lot of weight (ie meat) especially when you’ve been feeding him ad lib with the layers and haven’t been deliberately fattening him for the pot.

So rather than cooking up a roast chicken dinner, we instead roasted the bird on Sunday night and last night B made the most delicious risotto! Lots of peas and garlic, more chicken than we expected – plus the magic ingredient, fresh cream!

If I’m honest, while the dish was scrummy, the taste of the chicken didn’t stand out in the same way that out home reared pork and sausages did.

We’ve decided that this is because we roasted him and then let him sit for 24 hours before cooking him again in a risotto, rather than munching our way through the chicken as soon as he came out of the oven.

Still, it’s really made me think about the chicken I have so glibly purchases in the past and I have a feeling I’m reconsidering my diet. Do I really want to eat the Bird’s Eye chicken pieces in the freezer? What about the shop’s own ones?

Now that Nemo is no longer crowing in the chicken run, the death of a chicken for my dinner means a lot more than picking up anonymous ingredients in the supermarket. I’ve only eaten shop-bought sausages on a handful of occasions since putting Vicky and Albert in the freezer last March and while I have eaten plenty of bacon and gammon, I’m not sure if I’ve had a shop pork joint since then, either.

But pigs are different: I don’t slaughter them at home, for one thing. And, for another, other than sausages, pork isn’t a basic ingredient for me. I rarely ate it before we got the pigs and my consumption of pork has increased dramatically in the past year, mainly because, for the first time in my life, I’ve found that I actually like pork: it’s just the taste of poor welfare standards that I disliked before, even though I didn’t know it!

Maybe the “he had a good life” thing is something we just say to kid ourselves but I either believe that or I become vegetarian. And since that’s not on my agenda, I’ll put welfare first. A good life, a good death. I’ll always let my chooks free range, maybe develop a system where I can keep any broilers in their own pen for the last month or so in order to put some weight on them, but that’s for the future.

For now, I can report that the chickens spent yesterday dust bathing in the sun, pecking at bugs and grubs and generally demolishing the old vegetable patch (it seems they really like kale!). They were feeling so good that seven of my eight layers popped an egg out for me. Fat Boy was on top of the world and even found the time to tell Flint off (the little guy took advantage of the tensions between Fat Boy and Nemo to pester all the hens), not to some special time with Buffy, his favourite.

Happy chickens - 16 February 2009

Happy chickens - 16 February 2009

It was a good day.