It’s billed as a very, very special chicken and as I discovered, the Copas family who’re famous for their award-winning turkeys, aren’t using the line as a cheap marketing stunt.
The launch of their chicken range in December meant that I got sent one of their 2.5kg birds, which was a joy to receive and unpack. The box looked special and contained not only the chicken but the giblets, full cooking instructions, recipes for leftovers and a sprig of Rosemary. There was also a plastic pop-up timer which the cook stabs into the thickest part of the bird before cooking, when the meat is cooked, it pops out.
The birds are reared to the same standards as the turkeys and life to natural adult maturity for 14 weeks, more than twice that of a commercial chicken. All are British breeds which are sourced from a local independent hatchery. They’re fed on a cereal based diet, supplemented with vegetables from a local vegetable farm. The birds are free to roam on the farm.
The dry-plucked, game-hung chicken is prepared using methods dating back over 100 years, the birds are processed at their facility at Kings Coppice Farm in Cookham. The key to the taste is down to the plucking and hanging stages. Wet-plucking adds to the bacteria levels which affects the meat. With dry-plucking, birds can be hung for longer which means the enzymes in the gut break down the protein, in turn enhancing the flavour. The family tried both methods and the taste tests found that the best flavour was achieved after 14 days. Whilst it doesn’t sound particularly appetising, beef is left to age between 28-32 days and the taste just gets better. The same principle applies to poultry.
After following the instructions for cooking the bird, and using the rather nifty timer, we ate a flavour-packed, moist, crispy-skinned chicken, something I’ve never quite achieved or experienced in the past. The breast meat portions were huge and we had enough for a Thai chicken curry with the leftovers. These birds really are the cream of the coop on every level.
If you can’t find Copas in your local butcher, order online.
I was given a chicken for review by Copas and whilst I couldn’t afford one every week, I’d definitely buy one of these chickens for sharing with guests a few times a year. The meat was not only delicious but plentiful – I got two large meals for two from the bird.
A 2.5kg-3.5kg chicken will cost £29.50, including delivery.