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I have an old recipe titled Minced Chicken. It's a casserole type dish. It says to use 1 hen, cooked and minced. What type of hen is this referring to? I found a cornish hen at the store but it was small, I didn't feel that this was the right type to use.

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I suspect what's meant by hen, as opposed to chicken, is a laying hen. When a laying hen's egg production slows down, usually between 3 to 5 years in backyard chicken farming, they're killed and used as 'stewing hens'. Commercial layers are generally culled earlier between 1 to 2 years.

You definitely don't want a Cornish hen. In North America, they're simply whole broilers (usually 7-10 week old birds) - nothing else. Older stewing hens make the best soups, stews and casseroles as the flavour is stronger and the method of moist slower cooking tenderize the tougher meat.

  • In the UK they are called 'boilers' for obvious reasons. Good answer. – dougal 5.0.0 Apr 22 '17 at 11:52
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If it's an "old recipe", you want a hen that has spent its life running around out of doors, finding its own food, and building up muscle rather than fat. After several hours in a casserole, the meat will actually taste of something, not just look like chicken.

You won't that sort of poultry in a food store, but if you can find an organic farmer or a private individual who keep a few hens, you might be more lucky.

Commercial egg producers are more likely to offload their old hens to a company that turns them into pet food, or produces "mechanically recovered meat" for the processed food industry, not something that still looks like a complete chicken when you buy it!

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