You may not have ever eaten rooster before in your life and this is not uncommon. Eating rooster can be an unfamiliar concept, even to the most enthusiastic meat connoisseurs.
However, many people across the globe enjoy eating rooster meat and some even tend to enjoy it slightly more than hen meat.
So why is it such an unfamiliar concept? Luckily, we have written this article to try and find out a bit more about the rooster, why we don’t eat it, and if it were something we wanted to try, how we would go about preparing it. So, let’s dive in!
So what is a rooster? A rooster is a male chicken and they are otherwise known as cockerel or cocks. Hens on the other hand are female chickens and are more commonly eaten across the country.
The chicken you buy at the store to serve up on your roast is usually hen meat and this is not because roosters are bad for consumption, but more for the fact that hens are easier to raise and cheaper to get on the shelves.
Therefore, it is a more economical choice for poultry breeders and farms to produce and sell hen meat to consumers over rooster meat, especially in Western countries.
Most people who raise chickens themselves, only have one rooster and the rest of the chickens are females. This is why if you are raising your own meat, it’s not common to eat your only rooster.
Moreover, if a chicken farmer only wants to sell eggs, they might not even need a rooster.
As we have just mentioned, many Americans and citizens all over the world, however, actually enjoy eating rooster meat and it can become a staple part of any American kitchen.
To prepare a rooster for eating, it should always be cooked slowly and on low heat. This is because moist cooking prevents the meat from being too tough. It requires slightly more care and preparation than hen meat as hen meat is traditionally softer and easier to eat.
How different do hens and roosters taste? Despite them both being chicken, rooster meat actually tastes different from hen or broiler meat. They have an entirely different taste, so much so that you may question if a rooster is still actually chicken meat.
Most people are used to eating broiler chickens as they are the kind of chickens available on the mass market.
The meat you get from a rooster is tougher than broiler chicken, is chewier and because of this reason, means you have to cook it a lot longer than broiler chicken. Broiler chickens are popular among consumers, easier to cook, and much more tender to eat.
Stewing hens or laying hens that get prepared for meat consumption or to be put into broth however do not taste too different from hens. You might not even notice the difference in flavor and the flavor can always be disguised further with extra seasoning.
Rooster however has a stronger flavor and this flavor intensifies if the bird is older.
Cooking Rooster Guidelines
As with all other poultry, it’s important to cook the rooster correctly to avoid food poisoning and to enhance the flavor.
There are traditional ways of cooking chickens whether that is a broiler chicken or laying chicken but this depends entirely on preference of flavor and availability of meat.
To cook rooster or laying hens you need to use moist heat, avoid roasting, and cook for a long time on low heat.
After cooking, the rooster meat is cut up into pieces or shredded up into tiny strands and serviced with chips or rice and vegetables.
Many traditional cooks often season the chicken first and cook it in some water with the vegetables and rice if they are serving with rice and make it into a ‘one-pot meal’.
On the other hand, a lot of Americans prefer their chicken to be served separately. They often also prefer it fried or roasted over being boiled as this method has become quite outdated in recent years.
American-style chicken is created with a broiler however and frying rooster meat will be too tough to enjoy.
Hens VS Roosters
Female chickens, which are also known as hens are more likely to tolerate and get along with other hens better than roosters get along with each other.
Roosters can be quite aggressive creatures and if you have ever kept one in your backyard or on your own farm, you will know this. Now, multiply this by thousands, it can get messy very fast.
A Chicken raiser who keeps their animals out of their backyard will usually only keep one or two roosters. This will apply whether he has five or ten chickens and only one rooster is needed.
Any more roosters than this, and it will only cause trouble and upset among your chickens. This is because roosters are generally very territorial and will end up fighting each other for space.
It’s never a good idea to mix hens with roosters and if you do end up mixing the two, you will be expected to try and calm down fights and a war that has broken out.
For large-scale farmers, it would be almost impossible to process any meat. This is because of the difference in hen and rooster meat. As we visited earlier in the article, rooster meat tends to be tougher and has a completely different taste to hen meat.
Those who lived before chicken production was on such a large scale would have consumed a lot more rooster than we consume today.
This is because broiler chickens were not available for mass production and people had no other choice but to raise their own chickens in a traditional style.
They would replace hens with chicks that had been hatched by the flock and out of all the eggs that hatch, half would be hens whereas the other half would be roosters.
Even when this was occurring, it was still common for those raising chickens to have very few roosters as opposed to female hens.
They would, like today, only end up using one or two roosters and the rest of the males would be cooked and served up to family and other household members.
The RSPCA reported that the sex of chicks born at a hatchery is always determined within the first few days after they have hatched.
Healthy, strong, female chickens are usually then relocated to laying facilities where they are used to produce eggs on a large scale and then moved onto broiler farms where they are bred as broiler chickens, ready to be distributed for consumption.
Male chickens however are only ever kept if they are needed for breeding purposes. Roosters of course do not lay eggs at all and are not as popular as they once were for general consumption.
This means if they are not specifically needed, they are disposed of and labeled as ‘wastage’. This process is called culling.
Shockingly, it has been noted that on average, around 7 billion male chicks were being culled per year. If anything, this can give you a rough idea of how big the poultry business is.
Types Of Chicken
Believe it or not, there are significant differences between traditional chickens and broiler chickens.
So what is a traditional chicken? A traditional chicken is a chicken that is kept for egg-laying. Layer flocks are made up of different breeds of chicken. Some examples of these breeds are Barred Rocks or Rhode Island Reds.
Traditional breed chickens you will spot on small petting farms, wandering freely around the yard. Roosters come under this breed and are classified as a traditional breed chicken.
Chicken that you see at the store, however, and that is on sale to the public, comes from ‘Broiler’ Chickens. These types of chickens are bred and raised to be used for meat production.
Broiler chickens are raised in large numbers in big warehouses all across the globe and it’s not unheard of for over 20, 0000 chickens to live and breed under one roof.
Rules and regulations exist to ensure that chicken farms are kept up to standard however, yet that is still a huge number of chickens. Broiler chickens also grow a lot quicker.
They only live for 6 weeks and this runs right from when they hatch, to them being processed at the butchers.
Broiler chickens don’t have as much flavor as traditional chickens that take longer to grow and so if it is the flavor you are after, and you also want to protect the environment, the switch to organic, free-range chicken could be an option for you.
A rooster that has been neutered or even castrated is labeled a capon. The process of neutering or castrating is done either physically or chemically and always before the rooster reaches the age of sexual maturity.
The capon then lacks testosterone and this can improve the quality of meat, making it more popular for consumption and making it a lot more tender instead of chewy like a traditional rooster.
The tenderness is also increased as capons are not as energetic as other sources of poultry. Capons are generally much larger than your average rooster. The is again, down to the lack of testosterone. They are fed a diet that is quite rich and consists of milk or porridge.
In certain countries, such as Spain, roosters are fattened up through force-feeding. As a result of this, capons have a relatively high-fat content and this means that their meat is juicy, moist, and does not taste like game.
It has a lot of dense flavors and some people opt for it over regular chicken.
Capons are not usually found in America today. In fact, at the beginning of the 20th century, this type of meat was considered only as a luxury and wealthy people would often serve up capons at the annual Christmas feast.
Capon was expensive and only the wealthy could afford it on a more regular basis. Other than that, it was served as a very rare treat to working-class families.
Roosters that have been castrated or neutered are less aggressive and will not fight with other birds as much. This means, unlike roosters who are kept separate from other birds to avoid this fighting, capons can live side by side in a pen together.
To cook a capon, you often need to roast it and it may take longer than other chickens, simply because the bird is larger. Braising is used to cook capons too and traditionally, roosters are braised because of how tough they are.
Capon might be more difficult to find and buy than regular chicken. Depending on location, capon is not commonly bought at the store. As a result, it’s not regularly restocked so always check the ‘sell-by’ date before cooking.
If you can’t find one in a supermarket, check your local grocery store, check online, or check with a local butcher. Once bought it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and last up to 4 months if stored in the freezer.
We hope by reading this article you have gained a better understanding of why we don’t eat roosters very often, the difference between regular chicken and rooster, and what a capon is.
If you haven’t tried rooster meat before now, go out and try it! You might surprise yourself and keep going back for more.