A superlative bird from the Ginger Pig
When it comes to meat, the age of the animal is of great significance—but exactly what that significance is can admittedly be somewhat confusing. Two-year-old beef cattle? Delicious. Meat from an old dairy cow? Well, not so much—or at least that was the prevailing sentiment, until the discovery on these shores of the revelation that is 15-year-old Galician beef from the Basque Country. When it comes to the Ginger Pig’s 100-day old chicken, though, we can assure you that its relatively advanced age is undoubtedly a very good thing.
“We get these special birds from father and son team Gerald and Richard Botterill, with whom the Ginger Pig has a long-standing relationship,” explains Amelia at the Ginger Pig HQ. “The 100-day old chicken was a joint creation, born of a desire to produce high welfare chickens that taste exceptional.”
Most commercial free-range birds are slaughtered at around 60 days, while industrially farmed ones can be as young as just 33 days old. The 100-day old chickens at the Ginger Pig, meanwhile—“a cross between a Cornish game cockerel and a Sussex or Dorking hen”—are an old fighting breed, “making them quite slow-growing”; hence the later slaughter time. Which means, along with “their high levels of activity” from a life spent roaming the Botterills’ Ling View Farm in Leicestershire, they develop large, strong legs—“but still have a good ratio of breast meat.”
Grass and herbage
Fed on a completely natural diet of homegrown cereals, plus the grass and herbage of their outdoor surroundings, once killed the birds are dry-plucked and hung, guts-in, for a week “to give them even more flavour”.
Be wary when cooking as due to their size, they require a longer than average cooking time: when it comes to barbecuing, ask your butcher to spatchcock it, then “marinate it in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and thyme, and grill it on a medium to high heat until the juices run clear”—for poultry perfection, use a meat probe to check it’s cooked through: once it’s up to 75C, you’re good to go. Otherwise, “they should be roasted or pot-roasted at a relatively low temperature—around 160C for two to three hours—with a little liquid. If roasted at a high temperature, they can become tough,” advises Amelia. “Cooked properly, they are exceptionally succulent and very tasty—and you’ll get a spectacular stock from the carcass.”