WHAT IS A COCKSCOMB?
This is the name of the bright red crest running along the top of a fowl (both male and female). While many birds have a Mohawk of feathers, Gallinaceous breeds are different. Gallinaceous birds are the portly, ground feeding species we’ve come to know and love (to eat). They include turkeys, pheasants and chickens. In place of feathers these fowl have a fleshy crest called a comb or cockscomb. The purpose of this anatomical feature is to establish sexual and social dominance in the fowl world. Think of it as the avian equivalent of an expensive black Mercedes!
WHERE IS THIS CUT LOCATED?
Located on top of the head, they start from the beak running between the eyes and onto the back of the head. Present in both genders, they’re larger and more obvious on males. Wild fowl tend to have a single, serrated blade of a comb. However the combs of farm-raised avian have evolved into three different shapes – pea, rose and duplex. Since birds raised for food are “sheltered from the full force of natural selection by human management, domesticated populations may be able to harbour crude mutations that would not be maintained in wild populations. ”
ROOSTERS DON’T HAVE PENISES AND YET THEY’RE CALLED COCKS?
Like almost all other birds, roosters do not have penises. Instead they have a cavity with two nipples at the end of their digestive tract called a cloaca. The male bird then presses this “vent” against the females (under her tail) to inject her with semen. Males can control how much semen they can inject into each bird (allowing for multiple partners). However females in turn can eject their injection if the cock’s sexual performance wasn’t up to her standards. The reason roosters are named after an organ they don’t posses is that cock is an abbreviation for cockerel. This is another name for a young, male chicken.
WHAT RECIPES WORK WELL WITH THIS CUT?
This highly underrated part of the chicken is both a pain to clean and a nightmare to find. But it’s also a delicious and colorful addition to your plate. If you’re tired of cooking the same old chicken breasts night after night, try cockscomb! Older cookbooks will mention recipes for this cut while newer books focus on what an industrial supply chain provides. You can serve them candied with rice pudding, braised after soaking in milk overnight, or as a crunchy substitute for bacon lardons!