April 16, 2011

Spicy Chicken

Watching TV the other day I saw a commercial for Fosters Farm Chicken. One of their promotional lines was "Always corn fed." I thought, "Well, that's a stupid marketing line."

Before raising chickens, I had no idea what they ate. My only exposure to feeding chickens was through movies. I picture the scene in Cinderella when she, signing beautifully, skaters corn kernels for the chickens and the mice. But then we bought some books on chickens and purchased a few. Guess what? Chickens are omnivores, just like us. They eat everything. Who knew! In fact, our chickens eat a wider variety of foods then our pigs. The pigs are somewhat picky.

Here are some things the chickens really like: carrot peels, zucchini cut in half the long way so they can peck out the soft parts and avoid the skin, rice with any spices, penne pasta, sausage, macaroni and cheese, peas, apples, raspberries/blackberries/blueberries/strawberries, tortelini, spinach and yes, corn. There is only one thing I've found that they do not like - cilantro. I love cilantro, but it comes in a huge bunch from the store and my recipes only call for a couple tablespoons or maybe a 1/4 cup. That leaves a lot to do something with. I tossed it out the chickens. They scratched it up and then left it. After a couple of days I took the now brown and wilted leaves out and put them in the compost.

Here is something else they do like, which really surprised me. For dinner I made one of our favorite dishes - Sausage Pile-Up. It's sausage, bell peppers, corn kernels, zucchini and spices served over mashed potatoes. For spices I do salt, pepper, garlic powder, fennel seeds and paprika. On this particular occasion I made a mistake - I grabbed the jar of cayenne pepper instead of paprika. I proceeded to sprinkle a huge amount of cayenne on the veggies. It was so spicy that Jordan couldn't eat it at all. Jeremy thought it was great (he loves spicy foods). It was too spicy for me, but still edible. Anyway, we had leftovers that Jordan and I weren't going to eat. Maybe the chickens would? Or maybe it would be too spicy. The chickens loved it! They gobbled up every last bit in a matter of minutes. So cilantro is a no and cayenne pepper is a yes.

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