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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What is the difference? Broiler,Roaster,Capon and Stewing Hen

At our class on Sunday I was asked about the difference between a Broiler,Roaster,Capon and a Stewing Hen. Some how I got side tracked in the middle of this question and did not get back to it but I'd still like to answer the question.

Broilers are typically raised from a meat breed of chicken,this breed varies across the globe and is butchered around 4-8 weeks.They weigh less than 6 pounds.The term Broiler is mainly used in America and Australia. These are a good bird for frying,baking or even BBQ.I consider these an all purpose bird.
Roasters are larger in size weighing between 6-8 pounds and are butchered at 14 weeks.These larger birds are excellent for roasting or baking in the oven.
Capon's are a castrated (this process is also called caponization) roosters/cocks.These birds are castrated some time between 6-20 weeks either with hormones or a surgery to remove the testicles.It is rare to find one of these chickens and is illegal in some parts of the world.The reasoning for the castration is to produce a more tender and fatty bird.Capons are also know for being moist and full of flavor.
Stewing Hen are laying hens who are no longer laying.As the name states they should be stewed or turned into soup due to their age.If not stewed your meat will be tough and stringy.
Giblets are another part of a meat chicken.The giblets are the liver,gizzard and the heart of a bird.In store bought chickens you may find them inside of the bird wrapped or not. Many people who came to our class asked about what to do with the giblets and are they good.They are some tasty bits and we enjoy them and call them "the cooks treat" at our house.To cook them is simple.If you are baking or roasting your bird just season like the chicken and place the giblets in the pan with the chicken.Knowing when they are done can take a bit of practice.If you are cooking a smaller Broiler/Fryer the giblets will most likely be done when the bird is.With a larger Roaster you will want to check the giblets about half way through the baking time.The liver is what I check,you are looking for a fork tenderness and an almost dry look to the liver,if the liver is done so are the heart and gizzard.When frying chicken the giblets can be coated and dropped in to the oil with the chicken and will be done when the rest of the bird is.Chance likes to spike the giblets on a skewer to cook on the Bar B Que.Because the heat of a BBQ is different than oven check for done-ness like for the giblets with a Roaster.
Along with the Giblets people asked about the neck and feet.Both of these are excellent for making soups or stews.The neck is mostly bone but what meat is there is dark and very flavorful.The feet will add a richness and golden color to your stock.Issac loves to have BBQ'ed Chicken Feet when we go for Dim Sum.( Dim Sum means Dot Heart or something small to eat.It is like brunch and comes from China.At Dim Sum's you are served lots of little things to eat,dumplings, buns ect.)

I would also like to go over the different terms for the age groups of chickens.When looking to start a flock or add to it you will see these names.By being an educated shopper you won't get the wool pulled over your eyes and end up with a flock of loud roosters or non laying hens.
Cocks/Roosters are an easy one, the adult males.
Cockerels are the males under a year old.
Hens are the adult females and are already laying on a regular bases.
Pullets are the females under a year old who may or may not be laying yet.Or if they are laying may not be regularly,they have not gotten the hang of eggs just yet.
Chooks (rhymes with Books) is a general term for Chickens used mainly in Australia,New Zeland and sometimes Britain.

Those are all of the chicken parts I know of.Although I know all over the world different parts are and are not eaten.Learning to use as much of an animal is economical and can lead to some good food.

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