When you raise chickens on the farm, there comes a time when the old hen just isn’t a very good “layer” and they need to be culled out of the flock. This happened in the fall, and if the unfortunate hen happened to be roosting in a low hanging branch of our trees, chances are their time was up. A load of the culled hens could be sold locally, but one of them would be a good candidate for this dish. Now they had a reputation for being a “tough old bird” and 2 1/2 hours may or may not be enough time for the meat to fall off the bones.
This recipe likely came from the Grass & Grain newspaper, submitted by some farm wife in very honest and practical words. Frugal farm families made use of every edible part of a chicken in times past, so melting 1 cup of the chicken fat as well as grinding up the skin and adding it to the sauce is not too surprising in the directions. Somehow I think the Weight Watchers points for this dish are off the chart. I’m not sure how many servings are in it, but I’ll bet it would serve our family of nine easily.
1. Put a fat, 5-pound hen in a large pot with a carrot, a sliced onion, 2 teaspoons salt and 2 quarts boiling water. Cook slowly 2 1/2 hours or until meat begins to leave bones. Cool in its own liquid. When cool, remove meat from bones and separate skin. Grind skin in meat chopper and cook giblets in salted water until tender.
2. While hen is cooking, make stuffing. Crumble 1 1/2 loaves 2-day-old bread after removing crusts. Melt 1/2 cup butter in heavy skillet. Chop 6 sprigs parsley, 6 green onions (or 1 medium onion) and 2 large pieces celery with their tops. Cook vegetables in melted butter over low heat for 5 minutes. Then mix into bread crumbs lightly with fork to keep dressing fluffy. Grind cooked giblets and mix in stuffing. Add 1 teaspoon salt, white pepper to taste and 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning. Add 6 tablespoons of chicken broth.
3. To make the sauce, skim fat off top of chicken broth and melt 1 cup of it in large saucepan. Add butter if you do not have 1 cup chicken fat. Heat 4 cups chicken broth and 1 cup milk together, but do not boil. Stir 1 cup sifted flour into melted fat until smooth.l Add broth and milk mixture gradually, stirring constantly. When cooked, beat 4 eggs slightly and mix in a little of the sauce. Then combine sauce and eggs and cook over low heat about 3 or 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove and add chicken skin.
4. Grease 1 large or 2 smaller casseroles. Put stuffing into bottom. Over it pour half the sauce. Cut up chicken meat into small pieces. Place meat on top of stuffing. Add remaining sauce. Combine 1 cup dry bread crumbs with 4 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle on top. Place casserole in moderate oven (375°) and bake 20 minutes or until crumbs are golden brown and chicken is hot. This is excellent for church dinners or large family get-togethers. — Mrs. George S. Jost, Hillsboro.