A couple weeks ago we culled a few hens from the laying flock and I jumped at the opportunity to try a recipe, Old Hen in Parsley Sauce, I’ve had my eye on for months from my beloved Forgotten Skills of Cooking cookbook.
Old hens have a bad reputation for being good for nothing but to season stock, but allow me to dispel that myth for you because with proper preparation an old hen can be made fall-apart-tender and succulent. Even better because of all that beautiful golden fat.
This meal was absolutely one of the most amazing chicken dishes I have ever made and if you think that I’m waiting until the next time we cull the flock to prepare it, you’d be sorely mistaken. Poor birds, I’d be looking for any reason to dispatch them. It is just as delicious made with any meat chicken from your freezer.
Some notes on the recipe:
~Resist the instinct to cover the bird with stock or water. It really does only take a couple cups of stock.
~Since it’s the dead of winter here (despite the claims of the calendar otherwise) I’ve no fresh herbs growing so I used dry herbs and it turned out wonderfully.
~While the liaison is optional, being not afraid of uncooked farm fresh eggs, I included it and recommend you do so as well if you have the means.
~I recently tried making Old Hen in Parsley Sauce in the Instant Pot and it turned out wonderfully… in a fraction of the time! It only took 30 minutes (plus warm up time) to get fall-off-the-bone tender chicken!
Some notes on the Forgotten Skills of Cooking:
~It’s a big, fat, clothbound, beautiful gem of a cookbook full of 700+ wonderful traditional recipes and skills.
~It makes me want to try preparing myriads of dishes I would never have contemplated otherwise.
~It is taking my farmstead cooking to the next level, making what we are growing and raising more satisfyingly flavorful.
Old Hen in Parsley Sauce
- whole chicken (about 4 pounds), seasoned salt with and pepper
- 1 large carrot, sliced
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 large onion, sliced
- a bouquet garni with a sprig of thyme, parsley stems, tiny bay leaf, & 5 peppercorns
- 2 cups chicken stock
- ¾ cup whole milk or cream
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 4 Tablespoons parsley, chopped
- Liaison (skip this step if you do not have a farm fresh egg)
- 1 farm fresh egg yolk
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- Place the seasoned chicken, carrot, celery, onion, and herbs into a large pot.
- Pour the stock into the pan and then cover with a lid.
- Bring the stock to a boil then reduce it to a simmer for a few hours, until the drumstick feels loose when you give it a tug.
- Remove the chicken to a cutting board, and strain the liquid, reserving the liquid only.
- Dispose of the vegetables.
- Strain the fat from the cooking liquid. (The liquid can be simmered to reduce if it tastes weak.) Add the cream to the stock and bring it to a boil, reducing it again.
- Make a roux by melting the butter and whisking in the flour.
- Whisk the roux into the stock, simmering to thicken it to a "light coating consistency." Taste adjust.
- Carve the chicken and stir the meat into the sauce along with the parsley, warming the meat back up.
- Prepare the liaison just prior to serving by whisking the egg yolk in with the cream. Temper the yolk by whisking in small amounts of the hot sauce until there is half of each in the bowl. Stir the mixture in with the chicken. Taste adjust if necessary and serve over brown rice or rice pilaf.