I bought these cockerel thighs at a farmers’ market. They cost £4 each. Meaty beasts. Real nutcrackers. And the flavour was incredible.
I’d never tried cockerel thighs before, but was convinced to give them a go by the very informative young man on the Fosse Meadows stall.
These guys are based near Lutterworth, Leicestershire, and the blurb on their website explains their philosophy: “Chickens are slow reared in coloured sheds and fed an additive-free corn rich diet with full access to green pastures & hedgerows. With a small number of chickens per shed, the birds can roam freely with no fences scratching around in the bottom of hedges.”
The young man explained to me that that cockerels are grown slowly for flavour and suggested slow cooking to make the most of them.
Back at the ranch, I made a stock with a whole lemon, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, fresh sage, chicken stock (made from last week’s Sunday roast carcass), a glass of white wine and black pepper.
I added this and the chicken thighs to my slow cooker and cooked on LOW for 3 hours, until the meat was very, very tender when pierced with a knife.
Then I removed the thighs with some tongs and transferred them to a roasting tin, rubbed a little chicken seasoning on the skin, and put them in a pre-heated oven at 180C/Gas 4 for 20 mins to crisp up the skin.
Meanwhile, I drained the stock through a sieve into a saucepan, skimmed off the surface fat, and reduced on the hob by half to make a delicious lemony, chickeny (cocky??) gravy.
Serve with roast potatoes, roast carrots and steamed, shredded greens,
The cockerel thighs were sublime. Meaty texture with a borderline gamey flavour. The flesh was so tender, I could remove the bone with a simple tug. If you’re sometimes tired of bland chicken, then give cockerel thighs a try: they yield as much meat as a small free-range chicken. In fact, my wife and I had enough for leftovers to make a fried rice dish for the kids the next day.