Growing up, we always had chickens. Mostly, we had them for egg laying, but would do occasional slaughters when our chicken population grew too much. We had several breeds of chickens; Rhode Island Reds, Dominickers, and various breeds of show chickens. Among those various breeds of show chickens, or “bannies”, as my grandmother said, a few were always Silkies. Silkies are a very unique chicken with the most silky, fluffy hair. Silkie chickens are cute as a button. They have fluffy feathers on their head, and even their feet. The Silkies we kept, as part of our bantam “bannie” chickens, were always just for show. We did eat their eggs, but never slaughtered them. They were our pets, and they are just too darn cute to eat. The bantam chickens, especially the Silkie hen, had another very important role in our chicken flock. They were the best moms. A Silkie hen would set on, or hatch eggs, from any other chicken. She would treat them as her own chicks when they hatched. She would be the most protective good mom. I have even heard that Silkie hens will raise ducks and turkeys. So it would make no sense to slaughter such a valuable hen from the flock. Silkie chickens also have black skin and are very scrawny little chickens too. There would be so little meat, and the gamy taste that I have tasted in other bantam chickens would be intensified by their dark color.
Well, it seems in other parts of the world, very gamy chicken is something desired, and even considered gourmet. I just read an article in the New York Times stating how much Asians prize these Silkie chickens for their intense flavor and strong gamy taste. With the United States Asian population on the rise, the increase in sales of black chickens have sky rocketed in the past few years. Asians use black chickens in curries and soups. They also braise it with various herbs and spices.
In my experience, bantam chickens, which are also in the same family as Silkies, have meat that is very strong in flavor. The meat is also very lean and tough. It has to be cooked long and slow so the muscle fibers are broken down. Lots of other flavors also have to be added to balance the strong gamy taste. Black chicken isn’t something you can just casually fry up or use in place of regular chicken in just any recipe. Although black chicken requires lots of work for even people who love the meat, do you think it’s worth it? Would you eat a very gamy bird like this? Especially one that is so cute? Or should these cute little chickens be reserved for pets and show chickens?
Here is a recipe for Silkie Black Chicken from Foodista.
Here is another post about what Black Chicken is and some things you should know.
Photo credits: Live silkies: iStockphoto.com/westcott, butchered birds: flickr.com/SugarPond