Chilli chicken recipe: using your own free-range cockerels

This chilli chicken recipe using your own free-range cockerels is for a tiny minority of people; but you could purchase them from the supermarket.

For those with hens in the garden, and a cockerel because you want proper eggs, free-range and fertile, the future of your young roosters has to be considered first.

Half of those adorable fluffy chicks will grow up within a few months to be rowdy and randy little beasts that will torment the hens mercilessly and draw a vitriolic rage from over the fence.

This page was updated by Bernard Preston on 16th March, 2020.

Chilli chicken recipe
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The chorus at 4am, before dawn, will invite outrageous comment from your neighbours and friends; and your own family too.

This chicken comes from Zulu ancestry. It is far more of a game bird than a domesticated hen; the meat is quite brown and unlike what you are accustomed to. So will the beautiful flavour be. We call them our pheasants.

The cockerels will be slightly larger than the pullets initially and then it will become more obvious as their combs grow.

At around three months you will start to notice a very strange sound emanating from the garden, akin to a soprano whose voice has started to break.

By four months, they must go and frankly you will have difficulty finding someone who will take them.

Either you forego your love of proper eggs and not keep a cockerel, or you learn to do what the farming folk take for granted; slaughtering your own birds.

In theory it is possible to take all the eggs from your hens as soon as they lay them, but in practice it is not straight-forward to stop them from becoming broody.

Actually the Leghorns do not become broody that readily.

Chilli chicken recipe

Your chilli chicken recipe first needs to be marinaded overnight otherwise it will be tough; the flavour of your own birds is without equal.

Elsewhere, perhaps, one day I will talk about the actual act of slaughtering your cockerels; for the moment, just accept that like all new things, the first time will be very difficult, but thereafter it becomes easier to cut a throat. You do not use an axe and there will be no headless birds flying around the garden, squirting blood.

Do you think that is perfectly ghastly? Perhaps we should all become vegetarians; that is where my roots are and it would not be that difficult to return. We are avid lovers of legumes for much of our protein.

Having said that, I am a committed omnivore; we need to eat and enjoy both meat and vegetables, and fruit too. But the chickens from the butcher are tasteless and boring, and raised in horrific circumstances.

Our free-range birds lead a sublime life until I arrive with a determined glint in my eye; off with their heads.

To date, I am sexist, and only the young cockerels get the chop. We love real free-range eggs too; do you have doubts about what you read on the box? You should have. 

Our free-range eggs are to die for.


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Young cockerel pieces.

You have done the deed, plunged their bodies into boiling water, taken twenty minutes to pluck the feathers and cleaned out the guts; your young cockerel is ready for your chilli chicken recipe.

  1. Squeeze a fresh lemon and pour it, pulp and all, over your bird; scoop out any pips you see.
  2. Sprinkle two teaspoons of curry powder over the chicken; and any other spices you enjoy. We use mixed herbs and freshly roasted cumin seeds.
  3. Slice a tomato and drape them over the bird; I like to add slithers of peppadew chilli but you use your favourite.

Place the chicken in the fridge overnight, spooning the liquid over the bird a few times.

Young cockerel pieces in a chilli marinade.

Chilli chicken recipe

  1. Heat a couple tablespoons of any cold-pressed vegetable oil in a heavy bottomed pot.
  2. Today we used macadamia nut.
  3. Chop and add an onion.
  4. Add some bay leaves and any other spices like coriander seeds that you particularly love.
  5. Chop up the chicken into relatively small pieces with a heavy knife and add it to the hot onion mix; turn until well coated.
  6. Add half a cup of water and simmer for perhaps fifteen minutes.
  7. Preheat your oven to 180*C.
  8. Place the chicken pieces into an oven dish. Pour the mixed juices over the bird, replace the lid and put it into the hot oven.
  9. After half an hour, lower the temperature to 150* and allow your chilli chicken recipe to cook slowly for a few hours until tender.

This is probably something quite alien to you; it was to me until a few months ago. But slaughtering cockerels for a chilli chicken recipe has been happening since the dawn of time. This way, you have control over the diet your birds feed on; the culling is quick and clean, and far more humane that in any abattoir.

I will be adding more photos as and when they are available.

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