On our farm we raise both chickens for meat, and chickens for eggs. This means we often have to deal with roosters from the egg laying breeds and they are definitely not in the same class as the meat birds. As a result, I most often simply keep them whole and use them for chicken stew and such.
Today I decided to try smoking a couple with different rubs to see how they turned out – here are the results.
I filled the water pan on the smoker, loaded up apple wood chips and warmed it up to about 200. While it was warming up, I rinsed the birds and coated them liberally with dry rub. I then stuck them in the smoker at 200 for 6 hrs, which was probably a bit too long, but they are so moist and juicy it all worked out great. I think the water pan is what kept this viable and helped avoid dry meat (which no one likes.)
One of the challenges with these birds is that they are generally tough and do not have a great deal of meat. The smoker made a nice difference, cooking them low and slow and breaking the meat down to a much more tender consistency. I will likely brine next time to see how that affects them, and maybe try opening them up but that is for another day. For now, it is dinner time!
Today I had the smoker running and decided to make some apple wood smoked eggs. They turned out well and I do love the flavor of the apple wood in the background.
I got the smoker warmed up to around 200, then added the eggs. I had a pan of water in the smoker to keep the shells from drying out too much and set the temp for 225. I let the eggs cook for about 2 hours and then opened up the smoker to cool. I would have pulled the eggs at this point, but I had my grandson in my arm, so I did not want to mess with the smoker!
Worth noting here, there are a lot of ways to smoke eggs, and many people hard boil first, or even peel them. This gives you different outcomes and require a bit more work in some cases. I simply put the eggs in raw, and let the hot smoking cook them.
The finished flavor is like a regular boiled egg, with a smoky note that is not over powering. These pair well with a little Gentleman Jack if you are so inclined…
The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, also recognized as ALBC, has placed the Jersey Giant on a “Watch List” of Heritage Chicken Breeds. The group seeks to follow the population of particular chickens to ensure that they do not disappear from our American backyards. The Jersey Giant dates back to the mid-to-late 1800’s from breeders in New Jersey wanting to replace the turkey as the big poultry for the dinner table.
John and Thomas Black of Burlington, NJ created this large, single comb breed and the APA ( American Poultry Association) acknowledged the breed in 1922 (Hobby Farms, Guide to Chicken Breeds). Through observation we have learned that the hens are quiet, lay a medium brown-mauve- colored egg generously. They prefer to roost on top of the nest boxes or hop from there to our roosting bar. Rarely have I seen them fly.
The roosters are mildly behaved compared to the Ameraucana and Easter Eggers. I would definitely refer to our chosen JG rooster as docile. Their smaller single comb makes them both heat and cold tolerant. They are black with a green sheen to their full feathers. When going through molt, you can see that their insulating feathers are brown. If you pick the them up you will be surprised at how heavy they are compared to other egg laying breeds. The JG can naturally reproduce and so if you are looking for a dual purpose bird that will lay you beautiful eggs and fill a stew pot, I think this is the bird for you.
We enjoy roasted chicken done many different ways, especially since it is so simple to prepare and yet very satisfying. Below, you will find links to a variety of sites and options to roast your bird, most of which can also be applied to cut birds as well if you do not want to roast an entire bird.
A great approach and very simple one that has some great humor as well is from the Ree Drummond, AKA Pioneer Woman. She has a fantastic blog and I recommend it as a general resource as well. Her approach is a lemon and rosemary butter baste and could not be much more simple.
Over at Epicurious, there is another very simple approach that is really not much more than salt and pepper – this is not a difficult process!
If you are looking for a little more challenge (really just more work) then a good base to build on might be the food network example. She goes for a veggie and herb foundation to add a little depth to the roast, and it is a worthwhile approach if you have time and the ingredients.
The main thing to keep in mind is that roasting your chicken is nothing to be afraid of and there are many ways to go about it, but it can be as simple as throwing the bird in a pan in the oven with a little salt and pepper and still yield delicious results.
I have to add that once you roast your bird, I like to throw the whole carcass in the soup pot to make chicken soup by boiling off any remaining meat and goodness at a slow simmer for a day. You can build on the soup base to your liking, but it is always a hit in our home.