Search Feature

Thursday, July 14, 2016

My Flavored Game Hen Project, From Hoof to Plate.

I know they don't have hooves, just couldn't come up with a good title for this post. :)

Home grown meat is hard to beat, very tasty stuff. I've messed around with flavoring pork before butchering and wanted to give flavoring this batch of Cornish game hens a go.
Most flavor comes from the fat of an animal. Pork and beef meat is easy to flavor but chicken meat just doesn't have the same type of fat. Most of the fat is under the skin.  I wanted to experiment with adding more fat to the birds while adding flavor too, with the intent of cooking these "skin on".

This batch of birds received their usual grain and a heavy addition of corn, garlic, scallion and ginger. They were fed twice a day.
(If you've ever raised meat breed chickens, you know that they will eat themselves to death if given the opportunity. The feed needs to be monitored and limited.)

Game hens are Cornish Rock meat breed chickens that are processed at a young age. They usually weigh between one and two pounds when butchered.

some of the corn, garlic, onion, ginger feed blend...

I kept the birds separated from the rest of the flock, but let them eat bugs, grass and weed seed. Just moved their pen several times during the day.

The birds spent the day chasing bugs and foraging for goodies..

They grew fast and were ready to process at 5 weeks.

I used my homemade chicken plucker to process the birds . I love this thing, it really saves a lot of work and time.

After dispatching the birds, I dipped them in warm/hot water to loosen the feathers before placing in the plucker..

The bottom plate of the plucker spins while the sides are stationary..

I use the garden hose to spray water into the plucker while the bird is being plucked,  this washes the feathers out of the bottom of the barrel .
I stopped the plucker to snap a pic half way through on this one...

It just takes a few minutes to clean the can put more than one in at a time.

The birds weighed from 1 lb 11oz to 2 lbs 7oz. They averaged out at 1 lb 4oz.  Some birds are more aggressive than others, so they eat more. Some had more fat content than others. 

I chill the birds overnight before packaging them for the freezer..

double wrapped..

Now for the taste test...

Into the cooker, no salt, pepper, seasoning or smoking wood. Nothing but skin-on game hen and hot coals...

The meat was moist, tender and FULL of flavor.

It could have been my imagination but the thighs and legs had a mild garlic, onion flavor.
The breast meat had more of a ginger aftertaste. There was definitely a difference in these birds and other game hens I've raised in the past.

These were the most delicious game hens I've ever tasted, whether the feed mixture had anything to do with it or not... I don't know.
I was very happy with the outcome, so I guess that's all that matters. :)

I'll be doing this again!


LindaG said...

That is really interesting. I know with wild game, you can often tell what it's been eating by how it tastes, so this must be very similar.
I know it sure looks good!
Thanks for sharing this experiment with us! ^_^

cowgirl said...

Thanks Linda! They turned out pretty tasty. It was interesting to see the difference.
Hope you have a great weekend! :)

LindaG said...

Have a safe, blessed weekend, yourself! Thank you. ^_^

Frugal Canadian Hermit said...

Hey Jeanie, that is very interesting. You are kind of a scientific cowgirl if you wanna ask me. The finished product really looked good. The last time I ever plucked a chicken (and that was a very, very long time ago), we had to do it by hand. That plucking drum would have came in pretty handy, but I don't think we did it enough to justify it. It's been a long time since I checked anyone out on the old Blogger here. Nice to see you're still hard at it.

cowgirl said...

Thanks Linda! :D

cowgirl said...

Holey mac n cheese Mark, great to see you! :D
I'm glad you are still alive and kickin'!
Thought you might have taken up bronk riding again and were traveling the country. :)

Hope all is well with you. How's the house?

Great to hear from you. Sending (((HUGS))) to Canada.

Bushman said...

That's a pretty neat idea. Glad it worked well for you!

cowgirl said...

Thank you Bushman! Great to see you!! The game hens turned out well, I was happy with the outcome. :)
Hope all is well with you. Bet your garden is awesome! Thanks for stopping by. :)

Frugal Canadian Hermit said...

Thanks for the hugs Jeanie, I'm sending some (((hugs))) right back at you. Nope no bronc riding. lol. My rodeo days are way behind me, although some of the canoeing we do somewhat resembles it sometimes. The house hasn't changed a whole lot since my last post. I will someday find the time and ambition to complete it though. Although it is not finished, it is quite cozy and efficient.

Oneeye said...

Interesting. What flavors did you experiment with on the pork?

cowgirl said...

Glad to hear you're getting time to canoe Mark. The scenery up there has to be gorgeous! I just checked out your video.... very awesome! :)

Last pics of your house, looks like it's pretty much finished. I've been telling friends about your build. You have a great set up there.

Thanks for the hugs.. Take care and let me know how you are doing when you get the time.

cowgirl said...

Thank you Oneeye! Sorry for the delay in getting a reply to you. I went to Okla city for a couple of days.
I've tried infusing cooking pigs with garlic and onion. They get the normal feed and still forage but I've added extras to see if it effects the flavor when cooking on the block pit. I thought they tasted better but it could have been just that they were fresh and homegrown pigs. I'm still experimenting.

Hope you have a great weekend Oneeye, thanks for stopping by! :)

pid said...

wow, this is very interesting and aside from that makes me want to cook up some cornish hens. or maybe i'll make some bierocks soon. your posts always inspire my cooking.


cowgirl said...

Thanks so much pid! Great to see you! :)
The hens were tasty, I plan to do more experimenting in the future.

Hope summer is treatin' you well. :)