The Cottage Smallholder

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Alphonso’s Chicken Bonne Femme recipe – cooked in a Thermos


Photo: Alphonso, Zebedee and Inca

Photo: Alphonso, Zebedee and Inca

Well how did the cockerels taste?

Massimo is in the freezer as I chose Alphonso to star in our first eat your own chickens post. I decided a slow cook method was probably best so I christened The Giant Thermos that I bought from the church fete this year.

I also tried to use as many ingredients from our kitchen garden. We had fresh garlic – for the first time a decent sized bulb. Carrots – many strange and evocative shapes here as we don’t really have the perfect soil for them. Potatoes, just a tiny bit of slug/xxx damage – just one hole in each kilo of spuds. The newspaper wrap works! Thyme from Danny’s herb bath.

I’ve also spotted that tip top chefs always seem to add chicken stock cubes to their chicken dishes. So I did this too.

I made a massive mistake re The Giant Thermos and didn’t
a) Fill it to the brim
b) Pre heat it with boiling water
c) work out how many litres the TGT holds and use this as a guide for the amount of extra stock that is needed. I now know that it holds aprox 4.5 litres.

So instead of simmering the dish for the expected 12 hours the cooking time stretched to a staggering 30 hours with an extra 40 minutes simmering on the stove top.

But it was worth the palaver. The result was amazing. The most chickeny chicken dish that I have ever tasted. The leftovers have been squirreled away into the freezer for some stunning soup and risotto in the future. Being cockerels the meat was a bit chewy but oh so tasty. Meanwhile we are now seriously considering raising chickens for meat as we have never tasted any chicken dish as good as this.

We might not have enough land to raise sheep, cattle and pigs for the pot but we can raise chickens and if we give them the best possible life – sun, good food and a decent sized flock to find friends, I would feel fine with this.

Alphonso’s Chicken Bonne Femme recipe


I year old home grown cockerel cut into sizeable joints
2 slices of unsmoked bacon chopped (we used our own)
4 cloves of garlic (we used fresh straight drom the garden)
100g of red onions chopped fine
200g of carrots chopped (we used 100g of our own and topped up with sweet Chantenay carrots)
2 litres of stock made with 2 chicken stock cubes and 2 tsp of Marigold vegetable stock powder
600g of potatoes
2 tablespoons of mushroom ketchup
1 tsp of dried mushrooms (chopped fine)
Half a tsp of dried ground celery
Half a tsp of dried ground tomatoes
4 allspice berries (secret ingredient!)
4 tablespoons of flour


Prepare the cockerel for the table.

Giant Thermos method:
In a large pan that matches the dimensions of the giant thermos (4.5 litres) throw in all the ingredients and stir very well so that the flour covers all the ingredients and bring to simmering point for ten minutes. Meanwhile bring 4.5 litres of water to the boil and pour into the giant thermos and secure the lid. After ten minutes pour off the water and add the chicken contents. Leave for at least 12 hours and then bring the whole dish to simmering point on the stove. We drained off about 500ml of stock and thickened the sauce of the dish with a little corn flour.

Slow cooker/Crock pot method
Toss all the ingredients into the slow cooker. Set the knob to high. After about an hour the dish will start to simmer. Let it simmer for 10 minutes and then switch to low. Cook for about four hours taste for succulence and continue if necessary until the vegetables are soft and yielding.

Serve on warmed plate with peas or beans. A fresh baguette would be great with this too.

  Leave a reply


  1. Magic Cochin

    I’m so pleased for you that this has been a good experience and you’ve discovered the real taste of good chicken.

    Like Coby I wondered if you put the feet in the stock? This is interesting

    It’s interesting that you used stock cubes and veg stock powder. I’ve been trying to avoid using these – I can always taste when they’ve been used and I think they add too much salt. I use lots of herbs – Lovage is a good one, you only need a small amount, Sophie Grigson refers to it as the vegetable stock cube as it add such a deep flavour.

    Looking forward to the next episode in this storyline…


  2. We reared some meat chickens because one of our girls went broody and we bought some eggs to put under her. We won’t do it again. The chicks tasted pretty good but it was a soulless job of growing them on – their temperament is not that of a normal chicken, so there was no interaction of human and birds. All they seemed to want was to eat and anything that came near them was grist to their beaks!

    If we have any male chicks, that is, if any of our girls go broody, we’ll grow them on for food but not buy the meat eggs again. I can’t remember whether they were Hubbard(spelling?) or Sassoo but I think the former. Surely, if your cockerels are well fed and cooked, they will be wroth eating.

  3. casalba

    This is how it should be. Eating small amounts of meat every week from animals who have been well treated and cared for. Not your truck loads of flesh from dodgy sources wrapped in plastic. It’s just… I can’t! So, I take my hat off.

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