a blog about kosher slaughter, kosher meat & animal welfare
The Kosher Omnivore's Heritage Chicken Cooking Guide
While fast growing hybrid chickens are harvested at 5.5-7 weeks of age heritage chickens take 16 weeks to reach that same size. Because heritage birds grow slowly their meat quality changes with age. The older a bird gets the more flavor it develops, the darker the meat, and the more firm the texture. Therefor, depending on the size and age of the bird it will cook somewhat differently. All this means that heritage birds need to be cooked longer to relax their toned muscles and must not be allowed to dry out despite them being leaner than cornish crosses. Drying out is the most common way to ruin a heritage bird. In order to avoid these issues people usually use longer and lower cooking times while keeping the bird covered and/or adding moisture during cooking. Below you can find links to several heritage specific recipes that will take all of this into account.
Suggested cooking methods for different classes/sizes of heritage poultry
Broilers: Age 7-12 weeks, Usual Size >2lbs
Best for grilling and frying - also suitable for roasting, braising, and stewing Heritage broilers are not commonly available commercially
Fryers: Age 12-16 weeks, Usual Size 2-4.25lbs
Best for frying, roasting, and braising - also good for stewing and grilling Fryers are the most commonly commercially available heritage bird. You can find these kosher on the KOL Foods and Grow and Behold websites
Roasters: Age 16-36 weeks, Usual Size 4.5-8lbs
Best for roasting, braising, and stewing - suitable for frying but - not recommended for bbq Heritage roasters are uncommon commercially but are available kosher on the KOL Foods and Grow and Behold websites
Stewing Fowl: Age 1-10 years, Usual size is 5+lbs
Best for stewing and braising - Cooking time is 4-10 hours depending on age and size - NOT suitable for any other cooking methods. Stewing fowl are not available commercially.