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Living History Chickens. Don’t mess with them.

I have written in the past about the Living History Chicken, ripped and delicious, and the joys of making such a creature fit into a cast-iron pot. While “chicken ripper” might be the appellation you desire, it’s not what I want to be known for.

Last time, I dissed the modern ham as an item ill-suited to camp cooking (tasty, but it doesn’t look right). I have also seen hams on a spit cooked slowly (too high above) a fire, and heard a rumour about a very authentic ham-dining experience with a very authentic digestive result. That’s taking things farther than I care to take any regiment, so what to do?

Continental Army rations included, among other things, a pound of flour and a pound of beef a day per man. In Rhode Island at least, that beef might also have been fish, and I have seen chicken listed, too, as it is, technically, meat. Not wanting to inflict our fishy Ocean State customs on all comers, I think I’ll spare the regiments a pound of fish a day. But chicken? What to do? Hope to cook it?

Or maybe we should eat more fruit.The Afternoon Meal by Luis Meléndez, ca. 1772. MMA, 1982.60.39

One option is to rip the carcass apart (see above) and boil it. That would get the job done, for a bone-in chicken stew. However, I am thinking of string roasting chicken (or cornish game hens, since modern grocery store chickens are awfully large).

To be quite technically correct, I could only cook chicken for the Second Helping Regiment. They had a documented poultry thief among their number, one John Smith, who apprehended poultry if it failed to give the correct countersign when challenged. However a chicken is prepared, it will be a messy business, as we have no forks. It’s fingers, knives and spoons for us, as we have no forks. That does increase the appeal of boiling, since the meat would come off the bone more easily.