You may have recently seen “stewing hens” on our Just Arrived menu and wondered what they were. Stewing hens (unlike roasting birds) are laying hens that are no longer productive egg producers. We encourage folks to try using stewing hens because it ensures the sustainability of our cage-free livestock operation, and because these hens have been pastured their whole lives, the flavor of the meat is incredible. They are about half the price of a roasting hen because it is a leaner, more mature bird.
Like beef roasts, stewing hens need to be cooked at a low heat for several hours before they will become tender. When cooked correctly, however, stewing hens yield delicious meat and rich, flavorful chicken stock, just in time for soup weather! Check out some tasty stewing hen recipes from the Deck Family Farm Blog.
Try this method for stock:
- 10 qts water
- 1 4-5lb chicken, or 2 smaller chickens.
- 1lb carrots
- ½ bunch of celery
- 1 large onion
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp pepper
Place all ingredients in a large stock pot or crock pot–no need to peel carrots or garlic). Bring to a boil and simmer for an hour or two until the meat is cooked and loose on the bones. Check frequently to remove any foam that is at the top.
How long you cook the hens depends on how tough they are, and can vary from bird to bird. When cooked enough, the meat should be tender and the bodies of the hens should be starting to fall apart. Cooking a few hours too long isn’t bad, but it can make it a bit trickier to remove all of the bones from the meat because the chicken will be completely falling apart.
When you’ve determined that your hens are done, use tongs to remove the chickens from the pot. Allow to cool, then pick the meat off the bones. Use it in soups, enchiladas, casseroles, sandwiches–or freeze in baggies.
Return the bones to the pot and return the pot to a low simmer. Cook for as long as you desire, up to a total of 24 hours including the time you spent cooking the meat. Strain out the bones and store your finished broth in the fridge or freezer.