How to Cook a Rooster

Last month I had the fulfilling experience of seeing and participating in the culmination of the full life-cycle of an animal I raised and planned to eat, after the bald eagle killed a hen and we slaughtered the rooster on the same night. Knowing this would be too much meat for this one person to prepare and eat for herself in the allotted time before meat goes bad, I froze the hen and prepared a feast with the rooster to be shared with others.

We've all heard of coq au vin, the chicken recipe that graces many menus and turns up at the PCC buffett on occasion. What you haven't heard, is that until now, most of the coq au vin you've tried was a sham, a mere effort to recreate what the recipe was meant to be-- a slow and labor-intensive way to tenderize and cook an aged rooster. I have two favorite food books in my life right now, River Cottage Preserves (which I'm always reference for canning), and my new favorite general cook, titled Forgotten Skills of Cooking. This cookbook has spotted pages already and has aided me in bread making, clam preparation, rabbit stew, and more. For the rooster I knew I needed a book that would give me a traditional way to prepare a rooster that was fully matured and already going about his business with the ladies-- his meat would be tough, his skin tougher, and the needed cooking time to be long. I learned that coq au vin was traditionally made with a rooster and I followed the included recipe from the book.

To begin, I cut the cleaned/gutted/plucked rooster's body into pieces along the joints. Legs, thighs, wings, breasts, etc were all separated, then added to a pot with various veg (onions, carrots, celery if I remember correctly) and herbs with loads of red wine and cognac. This stew-y concoction sat in the refrigerator for nearly 4 days, allowing the meat to relax and absorb and boozy flavors. Continuing to follow the recipe, I simmered the meat, veg and liquid as required, strained and picked out the stewed vegetables, and then drained/reserved the liquid for later use. The meat was dredged in flour and browned in a pan for flavor and texture, then added to a cast-iron dutch oven. An onion/mushroom/bacon combination was sauteed and added to the casserole along with the reserved liquid, and this whole recipe was slowly stewed in the oven. At the same time, I prepared mashed potatoes to be served with the dish.

It was hard to get a flattering picture of the final result because by the time the dish was finished all natural light had dissipated; I was eating by the glow of my overhead lights. Honestly, I can't explain to you how amazing this dish was because it was probably the best dish I've ever eaten in my life. It was savory, sweet, rich, and life-altering. I gutted this rooster, the same cockerel I'd fed every day and watched with interest and humor as he played king of the hen-pen. I was thankful for the life on my dinner plate in a way I'd never felt before.

And it was fucking delicious. My mouth still salivates at the thought.

Mr. Barred Rock Rooster, thank you.


  1. I have a roo that we are going to be butchering tomorrow. He has been getting a little "cocky" with my 2 little boys (2 and 4). Can't have that.
    I can't wait to try this dish.

  2. Thank you for this post! I thoroughly enjoyed it. :)

  3. I truly enjoyed your post here about how you cooked your rooster, and I will probably give it a try. I was extremely disappointed in using the "f word". very offensive.


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