Stewing Hen Tacos with Yogurt and Pickled Red Onions

Stewing Hen Tacos - Fisher Hill Farm

We love our stewing hens for two reasons: taste and recycling. 

That might sound odd, but it’s the truth. Our stewing hens are the egg layers that no longer produce. They aren’t great for grilling like our other chickens but it would terrible to let that chicken go to waste. We wish we could let them live out their lives naturally, but it wouldn’t be cost effective or would we have enough space. To our vegetarian friends it might seem cruel, but it’s the best way for them to serve two purposes.

The problem is, it’s not something that is normally sold in grocery stores. It’s just not that common. So we get a lot of questions on different ways to prepare these hens. The easiest way is soup, but no one wants to eat the a slightly different variation of soup every week. So we’ve come up with a few different ways to use them. Including this ragu which several people have tried and told us the whole family loved!

So here’s a different way! Tacos! Who doesn’t like tacos! And these are sure to please.

Here’s a video that explains the process. Below you’ll find the general ingredients that you’ll need.

What You’ll Need: 

1 Fisher Hill Farm Stewing Hen

1 Fisher Hill Farm Carrot

1 Fisher Hill Farm Red or White Onion

2 Ribs Celery

2 Cups chicken stock (homemade is best but store bought works)

Corn tortillas

Plain Yogurt

Cabbage (or kale or lettuce or whatever you can find/prefer)

Chili Powder, Cumin, salt and pepper – the rest is optional

What You’ll Do: 

Watch the video for the process. But a couple of footnotes:

-We’re working on a pickled red onion video and we’ll post that soon

-We use yogurt instead of sour cream because it’s easier to find locally and it’s better!

-Substitute flour tortillas if you prefer (We should do a flour tortilla recipe video!)

– We had leftover bacon from breakfast and so we chopped it up and included it

 

If you have questions or ideas or would like to see some recipes in video form let us know! We want to help! Thank you everyone for your support!

 

 

 

Stewing Hen Ragu

A shortage of meat chickens in the market has prompted a lot of questions on our Stewing Hens. Yes, they are available. Yes, they are frozen. No, they cannot be put on the grill.

So, what exactly do you do with a stewing hen?

The simple answer is “low and slow” is the key. It needs to stew, hence the name. But if you try googling stewing hen recipes you get a lot on how to make stock but we have not seen anything with tomato sauce. The acidity in the tomatoes breaks down the protein on the hen and it comes out fantastic.

We’re not chefs, so these recipes won’t call for exact measurements. Unless your baking, farmhouse cooking rarely does.

What you’ll need:

A stewing hen (defrosted)

28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

A few ribs of celery, half an onion (we used a few shallots!) and a carrot

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

What you’ll do:

Cut the hen up into parts. Here’s a youtube video on cutting up a chicken. Same process for the hens:

Put a stock pot on the stove, put some olive oil in it and get it hot. Salt and pepper the chicken and then brown all sides in the oil. Take the chicken out and set it aside.

Rough chop the veggies and put them in the pot and cook for about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper the veggies too.

Put the chicken back in. Open the can of tomatoes and pour over top. Add water to the pot until it just barely covers the chicken. Turn the heat down. Put the cover on the pot.

Forget about it for 2 hours. Check in on it then. If you can easily insert a fork into the chicken it’s ready. If not, let it go for awhile longer.

When it’s ready take the chicken out of the pot and let it cool.

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Once it has cooled down to the touch, discard the skin and then take all of the meat off the bones. Throw the bones away.

Take your reserved liquid that the chicken cooked in and use an immersion blender. If you don’t have an immersion blender we highly recommend getting one! They’re amazing!

Do not take anything out of the pot! Blend it all up together. It will naturally form a thick and very rich sauce. Then simply add the shredded chicken into the blended tomato sauce. Turn the heat to very low and let it simmer for another 20 minutes or so before serving. Or store in a non reactive container in the fridge for another day.

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Serve over your favorite style pasta with some Parmesan cheese.

 

Stewing Hens: Best Kept Culinary Secret

This weekend starts stewing hen season. But what exactly is a stewing hen?

Not all chickens are the same. On our farm we have two different types, one kind is raised for meat and the other is specific to laying eggs. Once a year we have a group of egg laying hens that have to be retired because they no longer lay any eggs. As much as we’d like to send them to Florida to play shuffleboard  and eat dinner at four o’clock, on the farm we make it a habit to use absolutely everything.

This week marks our stewing hen season. They will be fresh for this one market weekend only and then we will bring them to the markets with us the rest of the winter frozen. These hens aren’t meant to be thrown on the grill or sauteed with garlic and tomato. They need to be cooked low and slow.

One of our favorite stewing hen recipes is chicken pot pie. It’s a multi step process, but boy oh boy it will be an absolute favorite for everyone in the house.

Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

Take the hen out of the bag, give it a rinse and set it in an 8 quart stock pot. Cut an onion into quarters, a carrot in half (don’t bother peeling it), a few cloves of garlic, and rough chop three celery ribs and put them in the pot. If you have a bay leaf throw that in there too. Add cold water to the pot until it covers the chicken and then about three fingers above that. Add a tablespoon of salt. Put that on medium heat with the lid on and forget about it for at least an hour and a half.

Now you can make the topping and put in the fridge for later. Instead of a traditional pot pie topping, use a biscuit recipe. Just roll it thin before placing it over the top. Make sure you cut a small ‘X’ in the center before you bake it or it could rise up and pop! Here’s a good recipe that just uses Bisquick as it’s base and probably a lot of other stuff you already have.

https://www.bunsinmyoven.com/biscuit-making-101/

When the stewing hen is starting to pull apart with a fork you can take it out of the pot and let it cool. Strain and reserved the liquid. That’s the chicken stock you’re going to make the pot pie with. Once the chicken is cool enough, remove the skin and pull the meat off. Chop it up a little and get it into bite sized pieces. Now you’re ready for the pot pie filling!

Dice onion, potato,carrot, celery and garlic and put it in a pan with some butter. Once the onions are translucent you can add the chicken stock you made. In a little sauce pan or a frying pan, make roux. You want a light roux. Here’s a step by step how to:

https://www.foodnetwork.com/how-to/articles/how-to-make-a-roux-a-step-by-step-guide

Once the stock is boiling and reduced a bit in your pan, add your roux to thicken, then add the chicken meat, and finally peas. Once this step is complete, make sure to taste it in case you have to add some seasoning. Fresh rosemary and thyme gives it a winter feel and don’t forget to salt and pepper to taste!

dutch oven

Place your pot pie filling directly in a pan that can go into the oven. Our friends grandmother used to put it in a hotel pan, top it with the biscuit dough and put it in the oven. We prefer a dutch oven. Roll out the biscuit topping and press it onto the sides of the dutch oven. Put it in the oven at 375. Since the pot pie filling is already hot all you have to do is watch for that biscuit to cook and you’re ready to eat.

We’ll have lots of other ideas for stewing hen use that we can’t wait to share.