My FIL purchased three ‘mature’ roosters – ‘mature’ meaning no longer viable for their purpose to the farmer – from one of his farmer friends about three months ago. He built them a roomy private coop with a good bit of free run away from his chickens & younger rooster – seems that if all the males were together, they would fight – and fed them lots of good feed (vegetables unfit for human consumption and grains). Then, with the help of his farmer neighbor/landlord, killed, plucked, and butchered the roosters.
My husband and I received one of the (huge!!) birds with the half-joking admonition that I was not to roast it (backstory: my FIL fell in love with me because of my roast chicken; it is one of my preferred preparation methods for meat and heck yeah, that was my first thought!).
I will concede to the fact that I was a bit excited for a few reasons. My first jolt came from receiving such incredibly fresh meat sans additives – that thought alone was enough to make me squeak with delight. My second jolt was because I finally had the means (and time) to try out two chicken recipes I’ve been intending to attempt for which this flesh would be perfect as they’re both ‘low-and-slow’ recipes.
It goes without saying that roosters are different from chickens and these reasons dictate their edibility (read: tough and stringy vs soft and melt-in-your-mouth). Not to mention (yet again), that these roosters had experienced a fairly full lifespan – as rooster life goes – which sets the culinary options available. What do you do with close to 12 pounds of mature rooster flesh? Make a soup or stew, I learned!
The first stew is an Austro-Hungarian speciality called Paprika Hendl (the second will be presented in a separate post). I first tasted this absolutely delicious stew at my husband’s aunt’s home and my only regret was (and still is) that I wasn’t actually hungry when I first tried it because it’s really, very tasty! Just up my alley – savory (ummm, yummy!)
If you’re not aware, this region of the world loves paprika in all its forms (if you want to know more, read “Soup of the Week – Paprikagulasch“.) I also recently found out that Paprika Hendl was referenced in one of my favorite stories in which Vienna was one of the city backdrops! (No, not “The Sound of Music” – although I do LOVE that story too.)
“We left in pretty good time, and came after nightfall to Klausenburgh. Here I stopped for the night at the Hotel Royale. I had for dinner, or rather supper, a chicken done up some way with red pepper, which was very good but thirsty. (Mem. get recipe for Mina.) I asked the waiter, and he said it was called “paprika hendl,” and that, as it was a national dish, I should be able to get it anywhere along the Carpathians.“
~ Dracula by Bram Stoker, 1897, Chapter 1
1 onion (minced)
1 stalk celery* (minced)
1 carrot** (shreeded)
1 red sweet/bell pepper (minced)
2 or 3 garlic plugs
2 Tbsp olive oil
flour (added a Tbsp at a time, as required)
2 or 3 lbs chicken (cut in bite-sized pieces)
2 cups chicken stock or chicken bouillon with 2 cups water
2 Tbsp ground sweet paprika
½ tsp whole cumin
salt to taste
2 Tbsp Sourcream
Heat oil on low heat, sprinkle with flour, and stir until all oil is absorbed***. Add sweet/bell pepper, celery, carrot, and onion, saute until translucent and soft. Raise heat to medium; add chicken, ground paprika, vinegar, cumin, and saute for 3 – 4 minutes. Raise heat to high, add garlic and stock/bouillon and water; bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and cover; let cook for about 1 ¾ hours. Remove from heat; temper**** 1 cup of the liquid with the sour cream and stir tempered mixture into the stew. Taste and salt to taste. Serve with your choice of starch (i.e. pasta, rice, bread, knödel, grits, etc).
Translated (by me) and adapted from “Seinerzeit und Heute” Thea Kochbuch Nr. 19
* and ** the celery and carrot were additions I applied as I wanted more veggies in my meal.
***the original recipe added the flour after the boiling stage but I can’t seem to get the sauce to thicken that way, so I employed the French method of creating a roux first and then proceeded with the recipe.
****temper means to slowly raise the temperature of diary for cooking applications by mixing the diary with a small amount of hot liquid before introducing it to the entire dish. It keeps the diary from curdling.