Tomorrow we are introducing the first of our Heritage Series Dinners with a Coq Au Vin shining as the star entrée course. I couldn’t just use any chicken for the dinner and wanted it to be from a local source, so again we partnered with the SVF Foundation and have chosen to use their White Rock Heritage Breed for the dinner. The lean, super flavorful bird is perfect for a long slow braise in cabernet wine, fresh herbs, heirloom vegetables, and specialty potatoes.
Never claiming to be an expert on specific breeds, it is my job to do my homework on the food that I prepare. With that being said, I contacted Rocky Steeves, the SVF Foundation’s grounds manager. I asked him the importance of the White Rock breed and why they chose to grow them. This is what he said:
“In brief, the white rock breed is considered a heritage breed based on the
specifications of the American poultry association, mainly that the breed
existed prior to early 20th century, they have good foraging ability, and their
rate of growth is slow (12-16 weeks to market weight vs. 6-8 weeks for “modern”
or “improved” breeds).
The white rock breed is 1/2 of the “Cornish Rock
cross”- the breed found in supermarkets and carried by distributors throughout
the country. The Cornish rock is the commercial variety that grows so quickly(45
days to market) that food intake has to be restricted, else they will literally
eat themselves to death- they’ll gain weight to the point that organs or bones
can’t keep up with their musculature and they’ll have heart attacks, organ
failure, broken bones, etc.
We chose to go with the white rock as they
are one of the fastest growers among heritage breeds, their feathers are white
so any pin feathers aren’t unsightly and their skin is a nice white-yellow color
that looks great after roasting. They’re good foragers on pasture and they have
a gentle disposition that makes caring for them a breeze.
Here at SVF they were raised for 3-4 weeks inside until they “feathered out” fully, then put
on pasture in a “chicken tractor” where they’re given feed and water in addition
to whatever grasses, plants, bugs and worms they foraged on a daily basis. These
8×16 tractors are moved daily to ensure sanitary conditions and fresh
Thanks Rocky for the great introduction to this tremendous breed