We sell a wide variety of free range poultry in our shops, some British and some French. The reason we stock the French poultry is down to flavour and taste; there are many birds you simply can’t get over here. Bringing back a selection of the superb poultry of France also makes good sense for us; we deliver a van of beef to a steakhouse and butcher in Paris each week, and so it’s good to come back with something new from Rungis Market. Below is the range of poultry we most commonly stock, though there’s often a little more variety in the counters.
Botterills’ Ginger Pig 100 day chicken
A cross between a Cornish Game cockerel and a Sussex or Dorking hen, reared by Richard and Gerald Botterill on Lings View Farm on the Belvoir Estate. The Cornish Game is an old fighting breed, and so these chickens move around a lot making them quite slow growing – they’re killed at around 100 days, where most commercial free range birds go at 60. They feed on a completely natural diet of homegrown cereals plus the grass and herbage of their outdoor surroundings. Because they move around a lot, they develop big strong legs – but still have a good ratio of breast meat. They should be roasted or pot-roasted at a relatively low temperature, at around 160C for two to three hours with a little liquid; if roasted at a high temperature they can become tough. Cooked properly they are exceptionally succulent and they’re very tasty – they’re hung for a week guts in which gives them a slight hint of gaminess. You’ll get a truly brilliant stock from the carcass.
Poulet de Bresse, French
Reared to a minimum of 92 days, a small but incredibly rich chicken protected by and produced under very strict rules. The birds are as free range as they come, with 10 square metres per chicken. For the final two weeks of their lives, Bresse chickens are fed a mix of grain mash and milk which is part of what makes them so rich and succulent – they have almost as much fat as some ducks. They’re hung guts in for a week after slaughter, and this is how we buy them – complete with head and feet. They should be roasted at a fairly low temperature. The liver of these birds is exceptional – tastes like it’s the foie gras of the chicken world.
Poulet fermiere de Landes, French
A Label Rouge certified chicken from specially accredited farmers in the Landes region of France. Free range and corn fed, reared to a minimum of 81 days. Excellent flavour, quite leggy and an attractive colour too thanks to the diet of corn. Succulent, great for pot roasting and roasting at a lower temperature.
Poulet Noir, fermiere du Gers, French
The name comes from the distinctive black legs – another free range, slow-growing, Label Rouge French chicken. Reared to a minimum of 81 days, a little leaner than the other types of French chicken so add a little butter to keep it moist. They have lots of flavour – again, slightly gamey – and are the chicken of choice for most Parisian brasseries.
Canette de Barbarie / Barbarie duckling, French
Neat little Barbarie ducklings which will serve 2-3 people. Full flavoured and gamey, comparatively lean but incredibly tender if given the right care and attention in the kitchen. Although they roast well, they’re absolutely superb pot-roasted.
A small free range chicken, ideal for 1-2 people.
Challans guinea fowl, French
They’re a slow-growing breed which reach maturity at 91 days. They graze and peck at on grain, grass and herbage, which you can really taste in the end result. Lots of flavour, but definitely recommend pot-roasting these as they’re quite lean.