Today I bought a chicken from a farmstall I often buy vegetables at. It's gigantic - 2.5kg (9 pounds) and according to the farmer's wife, the bird was clucking around the farmyard as recently as yesterday morning.
The problem is, when I opened it up at home, the smell was overpowering. It didn't smell rotten, exactly, but very aggressively like animal, with a sweet note to it. Visually and texturally, the chicken seemed superb - firm, plump, not at all sticky. When I spatchcocked it, I did see the stomach was still attached (I removed it, and washed the whole bird thoroughly, and dried it) - perhaps this is the cause of the stench? I salted the bird, and now it is in my fridge, covered, to be barbequed tomorrow.
But the mere memory of the smell makes me blench. Is this smell normal for farm fresh chickens? I usually buy mine frozen from a butcher or fresh from a supermarket, and it never seems to smell of much. Could it be the age of the bird (2.5kg is more of a stewing size than a 2-month old young chick), or the fact that it is free range in every sense of the word (the birds eat what they can find, and some veg scraps)? Could it be the fact it was double-bagged in plastic? I trust my farmer, and have bought lovely other meats - pork, lamb - from him before. He doesn't slaughter the birds himself, a professional abattoir does it.
Has anyone else experienced this with farm chickens? I'm usually not at all alarmist, and really don't want to throw away such a magnificent bird...