Rebecca's Magic Sommerlad Heritage Chicken

24 Apr 2020

This is the story of how a single chicken fed 20 people and played a role in fighting the decline of species diversity in our ecosystem.

Rebecca, our good friend and colleague, recently purchased from us a whole Sommerlad Heritage chook born and bred at Grasslands Poultry, near Mudgee, NSW.

(Sommerlad Heritage chickens are a completely different breed from the generic, white broiler chickens that make up the genetic monoculture of the Australian meat chicken industry. They are bred specifically to thrive outside on Australian pastures and play an important role in re-introducing critical genetic diversity to the livestock landscape. Read more about the Sommerlad chicken project.)

When Rebecca got home, her husband looked at the $50.00 price tag on the chicken and promptly accused her of spending their house deposit on dinner. Rebecca, who knew better, wisely ignored this and calmly went about turning that humble chook into the first of a series of delicious meals to feed her family of four.

This is what she made.

  • Roast chicken cooked in milk - recipe from Holly Davis. Chicken, milk, sage and cinnamon - a revelation. 'We were amazed by how little chicken we ate and the roast potatoes were pretty delicious too!'
  • Chicken sandwiches with fermented veg
  • Chicken broth (clarified by way of an egg raft) with radicchio, salami, kale, lentils and pasta
  • Chicken fried rice (with fresh ginger and spring onion sauce - or crack as we call it at our house)
  • Fregola pasta dish - the remaining broth and chicken schmaltz formed the basis for a sublime fregola pasta dish

So, Rebecca's Grasslands Sommerlad chicken cost her $50.00. But, in her artful hands, it produced five meals for four people at $2.50 per portion per meal. As she said, 'Great value, really!'

A note about satiety

You might read that and think 'there's no way a single chicken would make five meals for my four person family!' Which is a fair point. However, this is where the discussion about satiety and nutritional profile comes in, because chickens aren't all the same.

If an animal has access to a smorgasbord of appropriate food sources and freedom to 'self-medicate' (instinctively selecting what it needs to eat to meet its nutritional needs each day), then the chances are high that it will be genuinely healthy. Healthy, nutritionally complete and balanced foods (animal or plant) in turn offer us easier access to the chemicals, proteins and other elements that we require to ensure our own systems are running smoothly.

Put simply, if your food is healthy, genuinely nutritious and you're eating a wide and diverse variety of foods with each meal, you don't need much of each product to meet your own nutritional requirements. Your body tells you, 'that's it, we've got what we need from the chicken, now have another spoonful of the kale and then we're sorted for now.'

Rebecca's surprise that her family ate such a small amount of the first meal she made with her Magic Sommerlad chicken is a wonderful example of this. If the foods we're eating aren't nutritionally dense, then we usually need to eat a lot more of them to top up our levels of minerals , protein, vitamins and so on.

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