May 17, 2014 11:03 AM   Subscribe

So I just ran across this recipe in an older cookbook (the 1962 edition of Better Homes & Gardens); it's for stewed chicken, and specifies different cooking times for chicken and "bro-hens" --- it was printed just like that, with quotes marks and a hyphen: "bro-hens". What in the name of Betty Crocker is a "bro-hen"?!? Is it just another term for a capon, perhaps? Because I've gotta tell ya, I've been cooking for over half a century now, plus I spent several years living next door to a chicken farm, and I've never heard of "bro-hens"!
posted by easily confused to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Broiler hens, maybe?
posted by northernish at 11:06 AM on May 17, 2014

James Beard is saying a chicken between 4 1/2 and 6 pounds, for poaching, braising, or broth. I'm guessing the "bro" is from "broth."
posted by jaguar at 11:08 AM on May 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Definitely not broiler hens, sorry: this cookbook spells out broiler when they mean that.
posted by easily confused at 11:11 AM on May 17, 2014

brood hens?
posted by mr vino at 11:13 AM on May 17, 2014

Or here, from a Home Ec text: "The term Bro-Hen is a proposed name for a stewing chicken which, too, is marketed in limited quantity."
posted by jaguar at 11:14 AM on May 17, 2014

From the School Foodservice Journal, 1962:

The bro-hen is the laying hen of the broiler industry, about 1 1/2 years of age, weighing 4 /12 to 6 pounds, having a high ratio of meat to bone.

I assume it's a term the National Broiler Council invented and hoped would catch on.

But yeah, it's basically a stewing hen.
posted by neroli at 11:16 AM on May 17, 2014

Yes, further digging seems to indicate that the "bro" is from Broiler, but because bro-hens are the hens laying the broilers not because they themselves are meant for broiling.
posted by jaguar at 11:19 AM on May 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

See also lower right blurb on the 1st page here... [PDF]
posted by neroli at 11:19 AM on May 17, 2014

Yeah, if you google for "bro-hen" together with "roast" or "bake", etc., you get a bunch of old (mostly newspaper) recipes defining it as a "young stewing chicken".
posted by egg drop at 11:21 AM on May 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I like this bit from a very badly OCRed 1960 Post-Standard article (the page includes the original, but you have to sign up to read it):
On* type ol tbicktn lhal is last becoming beloved Icr its tremendous versatility la the "bro-hen," or laying hen of the broiler flocks. The Industry that produces the famous b r o i l e r - f r y e r chickens brings these hens to market when they've just passed the peak ot their laying days. The National Broiler Council atfviiei thit there Is · generous lupply of these chick- em no TV available In gnper- marketj where they ire identified is heavy slewing hens, ·weighing 4)4 pounds or over.
It goes on about them for quite a while.
posted by egg drop at 11:29 AM on May 17, 2014 [8 favorites]

Okay, I guess I'm convinced, especially with things like neroli's article being dated 1962: the same year as this cookbook of mine.

Basically it sounds like the chicken industry was trying out a new way to market what were probably slightly-tougher birds under a fancy new name (and you've got to admit, "bro-hen" does sound better than "worn-out laying hen"!), since all the recommended cooking methods I've found for them in the book are for stewing, soups or salads and generally involve extra cooking time and/or extra liquids; but they're not mentioned for roasting, baking or frying. Thanks all!
posted by easily confused at 12:50 PM on May 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

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