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A stewing hen is no roaster bred for human consumption but a hen bred for laying eggs. After a certain laying period the lighter hens are slaughtered for further use in the food industry. Heavier hens (up to 3.5 kg and above and up to 3 years of age) are sold to the end customer as stewing hens. Most stewing hens are between 12 and 15 months and weigh between 1.8 and 3 kg, depending on their breed.

Stewing hens have tough, slightly yellow meat and light belly fat (the fat on the inside of the cleaned hen).

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Preparation of stewing hens

Stewing hens are first choice for boiling a tasty stock or glace de viande. To cook a stock tie up the hen and put it in a large pan with leeks, carrots, celery, parsley stalks, bay leaf and black peppercorns. Add cold water until the chicken is completely covered. Bring to boil and remove scum and impurities regularly with a skimmer or slotted spoon. Reduce the heat and let it simmer just below boiling point. Depending on the age and size of the chicken it may take up to three hours until the meat is cooked through. Add more water whenever necessary, so that the chicken is completely covered at all times.

This stock may be used as a base for many chicken dishes. It could for example be used for fricassee or chicken salads. It is best to debone stewing hens right after cooking them, as this gets harder to do once they are cooled.

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