June 7th 2011 I had an unusual dinner invitation this week from Niko and Kiki. Their son Mandel keeps chicken and quail in the back garden – it’s quite a chic hen house too, with roses and a penthouse apartment. See here for chicken coop designs.
Mandel bought 3 hens, 6 quail and 13 chicks in February. It’s very hard to sex chicks and we had a discussion about eating any cockerels that grew up. There are some common sense reasons for killing and eating the cockerels, if you have more than one, they will fight and on a normal street, they tend to wake up the neighbours with their crowing. Last week one of the neighbours complained about the noises the 3 cockerels were making, so they had to go!
We all wanted the cockerels to be killed humanely and as quickly as possible. Fortunately Mandel has done an amazing job of taming all the chicken – they are quite friendly and showed no fear with regard to handling. This made it all much easier, since the cockerels were calm and fearless when I picked them up.
I opted to dislocate their necks, which is considered to be a normal and humane method. I took the birds away from the hen house so that the chicken wouldn’t see or hear the killing. You hold the legs in the right hand (or left if you are left handed), place the index and second fingers of the left hand round the head and the thumb comes over the top. With one quick movement, you lift the legs in the air and the head downwards. The head will come away from the spine, but stay intact. The bird will flap for about 30 seconds, but it is already quite dead. I wore some gardening gloves in case the cocks struggled, but I probably didn’t need to because they were so calm.
All of the cockerels died quickly without stress.
While I was attending to the cockerels, Mandel cooked me two chicken eggs and a quail’s egg (the olive is for scale) – all of them were eggcellent.
Following the eggs we enjoyed a huge lasagne, (cooked by Alena) with salad. It had the most amazing thick cheese crust that I have ever seen or tasted – I ate far more than necessary! See here for Alena’s Spaghetti Bolognese.