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Stewing hens have lived full lives as laying hens, exercising their muscles and eating gobs of grazing goodies. Featuring bright yellow fat, dark leg meat and dense bones, these whole chickens have a flavor and a nutrient profile you won't ever get from a young, fat meat chicken!
There's a catch, though: to release the goodness, they have to be cooked low and slow. Place one is a slow cooker with a few bay leaves, peppercorns, onions, garlic, and celery ends and let it cook 4-24 hours. When the meat falls off the bones, it's ready. The bones can be added back to the same broth and allowed to cook up to 72 hours longer, or can be used to start a new batch of broth.
The meat is perfect for casseroles, tacos, soups and anywhere else you could use some shredded chicken. The bones will keep adding minerals and flavor to broth, batch after batch, until they crumble.
Alternatively, place a few together in a pan and slide into a 250F oven until the meat falls off the bones. Collect the meat and put the bones back into your broth vessel of choice: pot, pressure cooker or slow cooker. The roasted meat and bones takes a little more effort but will have even greater depth of flavor.