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Hay Box Rooster

by David Booth
(North Ferrisburgh, VT USA)

Some years ago I had an enormous fifteen pound Cornish Cross rooster. The largest of fifty meat birds, he lived a good life, and even managed to mate with some unfortunate hens one third his size. Eventually he came down with a bad case of bumble foot and was humanely dispatched and dressed, minus the infected area. Now, a two year old free range rooster is going to be a tough bird, really tough. But into the (commercial) stockpot he went, cut up into not very professional looking pieces, along with seasonings, and brought to a simmer. I let it simmer for fifteen or so minutes, stirring a few times to distribute the heat evenly. Then I located a banana box of sheep wool I had been saving for just this purpose. The three gallons, or so, of chicken and stock was ready in the big stockpot, and into the box of wool the pot went, with wool below and fluffed around the sides of the pot, as high as possible. A towel and two sleeping bags went on top and around the pot. Sixteen, yes sixteen hours later I removed the insulation to find a steaming hot pot. Far too hot to consume immediately. I should have checked it, but maybe 150 degrees F. The old rooster was so tender that the meat just fell off from the bones. The key to a safe and successful hay bale cooker is a large volume of uniformly hot liquid and lots of insulation. A heavy pot helps, and different materials and thicknesses will change the equation. It makes a great math, science and engineering lesson, too. Calculate the heat loss, r-value, heat transfer rates of metals, etc. I didn't do this with a solar oven, but I certainly could have. Regardless, I saved fifteen plus hours of propane! A more permanent box cooker would allow one to quickly standardize some basic recipes and associated cooking times.

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Jan 19, 2015
Great Post
by: Nathan

Thank you David for sharing this, it was great and really informative.
It's good to hear of actual "real world" application and use of a a haybox, or homemade thermal cooker and great results.

Thanks for the details and the insight on thermal cooking.

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