Cornish Cross taste test
Our Cornish Cross chickens
are clocking in at a dressed weight of around 3.9 pounds at six weeks
of age, which is the youngest you'd want to slaughter even these
ultra-speedy hybrids. We could expect our broilers to perhaps
double in size if we let them grow out another month, but, to be honest,
Mark and I are heartily sick of Cornish Cross and don't want to risk
dealing with the health problems that crop up as the birds get even
bigger. Since the six-week-old dressed weight of Cornish Cross is
already twice what we get out of twelve-week-old Australorps, we decided to slaughter at the youngest age possible and move on to birds we enjoy more.
As I butchered the
Cornish Cross carcasses, I could tell they were a very different bird
than we're used to, and not just because of their heavy weight, small
legs, and big breasts. With Australorps, I'm used to seeing
minimal fat, but what fat is present is richly yellow
due to their pastured diet. Despite the fact that our Cornish
Cross had access to just as much pasture as our other chickens do, their
fat was a very pale cream color, and there was much more fat
present. In retrospect, I think the only real way to get much
pasture at all into lazy Cornish Cross is to use Salatin-style chicken tractors,
and I'm sure even that would only result in a fraction of the
nutritional quality of the meat that we get out of our Australorps.
But what about flavor? I brined
and then roasted up a broiler twenty-four hours after slaughtering and
was pleasantly surprised to find that the taste of a homegrown bird is
superior to that of a supermarket chicken. On the other hand, the
Cornish Cross didn't hold a candle to the Australorp broilers we're
used to (although the former does have meat that's less tough than the
latter, due to the older age of our heirloom broilers).
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