What is it?
Aurum Poultry Co sells a range of poultry products that were initially bred, raised and processed for the local Asian market. Slow-grown and sold with the head and feet left on, these birds are full-flavoured and have excellent texture; almost the antithesis of the modern industrial poultry product. The stars of the Aurum range are the cockerels: young roosters from egg-laying breeds that are grown for 15 to 16 weeks. By comparison, a supermarket chicken is typically slaughtered at six weeks. The cockerels are lean and athletic-looking but exceptionally flavoursome, with a firm texture. Aurum also grows pullets – female chickens – for at least 17 weeks. Aurum Poultry Co also produces corn-fed Peking ducks and older Khaki Campbell ducks with darker, sweeter meat. Black-skinned silky bantams are also grown for traditional medicinal foods, such as dishes for breastfeeding mothers and cold-weather soups for older people. The range also includes fresh eggs, salted duck eggs and century eggs.
Who’s producing it?
Aurum Poultry Co was founded by Vietnamese brothers Sam and Danny Wong, who migrated to Australia in 1999. “We grew up in a household where poultry dishes were the centrepiece of meals and where high-quality birds were both respected and expected,” says Sam. “We wanted to replicate that experience for chefs and home cooks here in Australia who appreciate the flavours and textures of traditionally raised birds,” he says. In 2010 they were joined by Danish-born duck farmer Henning Skallebaek.
Where is it?
Aurum works with farmers across Victoria who grow the birds to the company’s strict rules on feed, humane farming methods, and transportation. The processing facility is in Albion in Melbourne’s west.
Why it’s different
Aurum raises laying breeds like Hyline, as opposed to typical meat breeds such as Cobb, which makes for leaner cockerels and pullets. Their ducks are also grown for at least 50 days, instead of the industry standard 35, so they develop a gamy, rich flavour and beautiful yellow fat.
Who’s a fan?
French chef Jacques Reymond says the cockerels remind him of the birds he used to cook back in France, and he also uses Aurum’s Moorabool corn-fed ducks at Bistro Gitan. “The duck breasts are big, full-flavoured and the skin crisps perfectly when it hits the pan,” says Reymond. He also appreciates that the company doesn’t shy away from offal, offering liver, heart and gizzard. “Oh my, the flavour is so intense and wonderful,” says Reymond. “We roast the hearts and make a gateau de foies de volaille, a rich, hot parfait. It is very delicious.”
Victor Liong from Lee Ho Fook has recently adopted the Aurum’s pullet for his bang bang chicken salad. “Eating laying birds is a big part of Chinese culinary culture,” says Liong. “These slowly grown birds have a good skin-to-flesh ratio which is essential in a dish like this.” He cures the bird with a dry rub of Sichuan pepper, salt, and sugar, and then slowly poaches the bird before chilling it to set the gelatin under the skin. The bird is chopped and mixed through a texturally diverse salad of stir-fried potato, chicken, Chinese celery, carrot, kohlrabi, and jellyfish dressed in mustard oil, and finished with chilli oil and peanuts. “The meat has a chewiness which is perfect against the robust and gelatinous skin. These birds hit the mark in terms of the ethos of Chinese cooking,” says Liong.
Where can I get it?
Restaurant and retail customers can shop online at aurumpoultryco.com.au, or visit the factory store at 13 Carrington Drive, Albion. You can also find Aurum poultry at Queen Victoria Market, Footscray Market, Preston Market and all KFL supermarkets.
By Richard Cornish