No, it’s not a velociraptor balut… :)

It looks a bit jurassic, no? Maybe a football-sized chick, just before hatching, but roasted in its nest, engulfed by a forest fire. Actually, it’s the head of a “native” pinoy chicken, inasal style. One of our local purveyors (that supplies Zubuchon with backyard-raised pigs) sent over a box filled with a very generous bounty of eight or so whole chicken inasal for me and the crew to taste. They looked incredible…

Apparently roasted on a spit, stuffed with dahon ng sibuyas or green onions, a bit of capsicum, salt and pepper — it was presented whole with some of the stuffing garnishing the chickens. I normally favor all things local, native, classic, etc. — but I have to say, these were TOUGH chickens. Known for their excellent flavor, these scrawny, lean and tasty chickens are often stewed in soup to create an appetizing broth to which folks often add malunggay (horseradish tree leaves) and other greens. This type of soup was a STAPLE in my grandmother’s house… so much so, I ended up disliking it. I had several bites of these roasted native chickens, and was most grateful for the generous gift, but I really couldn’t get past how tough the meat was… beyond chewy really. :)

We eat a LOT of chicken in our home, and I guess it’s one of those produce items that I will have to say I prefer the meatier, fatter, and more tender “modern” varieties over the classic, native ones. :)

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16 Responses

  1. stewing hen? Made into chicken soup, that is a staple at MIL’s house. It would be simmering for hours on end and then we all would have bowlfuls of it the whole day long whether we like it or not! At least you had malunggay leaves or any other greens with it. What we drank was Chinese penicillin…just had ginger and white peppercorns and some other stuff the names I cannot pronounce! But hey….it works! I find myself making it for my kids when they have a cold!

  2. This kind of chicken has lots of exercise making their meat kinda tough. I mean they are free so they run around a lot not like the other chickens and so they become very tasty.
    Oh my, so MM you should try making some experiments with regards to this kind of chicken who knows , you might find something very valuable about it in the long run a recipe that could make the meat very eatable like a chicken jerky something… those beef jerky….I am not really very knowledgeable about this as you can see…

  3. Free Range Chicken.. I once bought a FRC fresh from Canada for $12.00 on one of our Asian store..Took it home and cooked Tinola with papaya and malungay leaves, i was disappointed with the flavor and texture of the you i preffered the new chicken.The inasal na manok looks Yummy!! anyway,your recipe for inasal is one of my fave.

  4. I thought I was about to read how wonderful the free inasal tasted when boom!..”these were TOUGH”. :) You are always honest, MM, and Saveur knows your readers trust you.

  5. I am with Sleepless in Seattle. My fave (and hubby!) is the Inasal na manok. Every time we want chicken in our systems, it’s either Chicken Bbq (the lightly sweet version) or MM’s Inasal recipe. Ok, ok… it’s always Inasal =)

  6. I’ve broken a tooth on popcorn, so hopefully none of your crew suffered eating these tough chicks! The ‘tinalo’ roosters have to be boiled for hours and hours to be edible, so I guess these native chickens should have to be prepared similar, then just grilled afterwards. Twice cooked to make them easy to digest.

  7. Native chicken is best for stew. And that’s about it. I also grew up with stewed chicken with malunggay and lemongrass as a staple in our household. My grandmother would even add the clotted blood of the chicken (the household help collects the blood upon butchering the bird in the back yard) plus the liver, heart and immature eggs if there is any. But unlike MM, I never tired of it. I guess because I left home early. Having it for a meal takes me back to my childhood :). It’s quite rare for me to have this meal these days. It’s quite difficult to look for native chicken and fresh malunggay in Manila. If you guys know of any reliable source of native chicken in Makati area, please holler. Thanks!

  8. same here! although my husband goes gaga whenever he sees the words “native chicken” on the menu, i still don’t get it. the only native chicken that i like is the one that my household staff brings back from her annual trips home in the mountains. these are fat, free-range hens that are delicious in soup. the chickens are slaughtered, dressed and very lightly smoked/grilled in a different way (i still don’t know how), and wrapped in banana leaves for the long trip back to the city. the chickens are barely cooked, but they taste fresh, and do not develop salmonella despite the 8-hour trip back, and when they’re made into tinola, the soup has a nice, smoky undertone, and the meat is tender.

  9. I had lechong manok bisaya on a vacation to cebu some years ago and I have to say that the chicken was very tough. Didn’t enjoy it at all.

  10. The native chicken makes the best “hinatukan na manok”. Green papaya is added to tenderize the chicken, especially the mature ones. The chicken blood is squeezed with the freshly grated coconut to make an incredibly rich sauce, soup really. It reminds me of the French cream sauce thickened with egg yolks.

    I remember how tender and tasty the really young native chickens were. The “tarin” as they were called, would have been the equivalent of a poussin, I guess.

  11. If you want native free-range chicken in something aside from tinola or sinabawan (where you can boil it till kingdom come) the best way to do it is by adobo. If you insist on broiled or grilled, then it would be tough.
    Unless you get a “tarin”, not fully adult chicken.

  12. Top photo indeed looks scary! Nicely focused with blurred background so I guess you used your DSLR here.


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