Our first try at Red Ranger chickens for meat has been a success. We butchered our first group and of the 40 we ordered we had 36 go to butcher. That is a loss of only 10% unlike last year when we had a terrible time with the Cornish Rock and a huge loss. We also got two of the above with our chick order of Red Rangers. They look like a cross between a Ranger and Cornish but I am not sure. I'm going to send some pictures to the hatchery and see what they have to tell me. These actually raised up very well. Those are some of my new Americana laying hens in the back ground. They are three months old now so hopefully they will begin laying eggs in October or so.
We took a week of vacation to take care of many things on the farm including the butchering. Fun things like having the septic tank pumped, cutting wood, chipping wood for mulch and getting ready for the next round of poultry. The baby turkeys and more Red Rangers arrived at the end of the week.
After a morning of butchering the chickens need to cool for 24 hours before being vacuum sealed and put in the freezer. For the first time ever we kept one fresh for us to eat. I found a recipe in Better Homes and Gardens for a brine and it was fantastic. I don't normally read BH&G but it came in the mail to me because I purchased some other item.
Grilled Feta-Brined Chicken
- 4 cups water
- 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (I used sea salt)
- 2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
- 2-3 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs (I used a whole cut up bone in chicken)
- 1 large lemon, halved
- 1/4 cup olive oil
In a blender combine water, feta, oregano, salt and cracked black pepper. Cover and blend until smooth. Place chicken in zipper plastic bag or container. Pour feta mixture over chicken; seal or cover. Chill 8 hours or overnight.
Remove chicken from brine; transfer to a towel-lined tray. Discard brine. Pat chicken dry. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
Grill chicken on the rack over a covered grill over medium heat 12-15 minutes (longer if you use whole bone in chicken) until interior temperature reaches 170 degrees, turning once.
Transfer chicken to a platter. Squeeze lemon over. Drizzle with oil. You can top with additional crumbled feta if desired but it was great without it.
Dinner was wonderful and it is so nice knowing where your meat comes from, what it has been eating and the fact that the chickens lead a happy life while they were with us.
So in 12 weeks or so we will do it all over again with our second batch of pastured meat birds. This is the first year that we have done two batches but now that we have a separate building and the movable fencing we have the room.
Our next project will be getting a out door run for the turkeys built. We are having some fill brought in to level out an area next to the barn that we can make a outside area for them. I'm not sure it will get finished this year but oh well, there is only so much time in a day.