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Thursday 28 April 2016

Chicken : Some Facts

Chicken's many plus points - its versatility, as well as the ease and speed with which it can be cooked - make it one of the most popular meats around. It has a high level of good quality protein, as well as B vitamins, iron, copper and selenium.

The pale flesh has a close texture and a mild flavour that pairs up well with many different ingredients. Never eat raw chicken, and always thoroughly wash your hands, utensils and cutting board as soon as you've cut or handled raw chicken.

All year round.

Choose the best:
As is the case with all meat, buy your chicken from a source that you trust - a good supermarket, local butcher, farmers' market or shop, or a website mail order company. Of those five sources, the last four will usually be able to tell you the most about the chicken - where it comes from and how it was reared. Trace-ability like that will give you assurance that the chicken has been humanely treated while alive; the higher the standard of welfare by which a chicken was reared, the better the quality of the meat.

Organic chicken is the most expensive, as the most stringent farming standards should have been adhered to at all stages of the animal's life, including being allowed to roam outside during the day and being fed a mainly organic diet. As they are allowed to mature slowly (up to 14 weeks) their flesh is firm and flavourful. Although, because they have had lots of exercise during their lives, they may be less plump than indoor-reared birds.

Free-range chicken should have had some access to the open air and they are cheaper than organic. Corn-fed chicken have a bright yellow skin, a result of having been fed corn or maize. The colour looks good, but fades on cooking, and doesn't make much difference to flavour.

Battery (or 'factory') reared chicken (sometimes called 'broilers') are the most commonly available kind. They are rarely labelled as such, but the extremely low price is a giveaway. Although such chickens are very affordable, the conditions they experience in their brief lives (up to 6 weeks) may be extremely grim, packed at high densities, with little room to move around and little or no access to sunlight - all of which produces a noticeably inferior and often quite fatty meat.

Read more about animal welfare in general at the Soil Association.

Various breeds are available. Look out for slow-growing British breeds with firm, flavourful meat such as Oakham White, Cotswold White or Gold and Devonshire Gold or Red. French breeds, such as poulet de bresse, poulet d'or, poulet noir and poulet anglais are also very good, with succulent, strongly flavoured flesh.

Whole birds are good for roasting or barbecuing. Other portions are also available (either skin on or off, on the bone or boneless), including breasts (fry, sauté, grill or barbecue); drumsticks (grill or barbecue); thighs (barbecue or use in casseroles or stir-fries); and wings (barbecue or roast).

Whichever breed, type or cut of chicken you choose, look for birds or cuts that have clear, soft skin, without bruising, blemishing or tears. Look also for brownish-red 'hock burn' on the skin on the legs, as this may be a sign that the bird has not been kept in the most satisfactory conditions during growth.

Prepare it:
If desired, certain cuts of chicken can be marinated before cooking, to add flavour and moisture and to tenderise a little further - slash the skin a couple of times to help the marinade penetrate further.

Before it goes in the oven, chicken should be at room temperature, so take it out of the fridge (1 hour for a whole chicken; 30 minutes for a cut) before cooking. Keep it covered, in a cool place.

Store it:
Fresh chicken goes off very quickly, especially if the weather is warm, so should be stored in the fridge as soon as you get it home. Take off all the wrappings, then wipe it all over (and inside the cavities) with kitchen paper. If it has come with giblets (the neck, gizzard, heart and liver) these should be removed and kept in a covered bowl in the fridge. Put the chicken on a tray or a plate wide and deep enough to contain any blood or juice that might seep out. Cover loosely with foil. Make sure the chicken is stored in the fridge doesn't touch any food that's to be eaten raw, or meat that is already cooked.

Whole birds and pieces of chicken will keep for up to 2 days. Chicken liver or minced chicken should be cooked within 24 hours of purchase.

Giblets can be used to make gravy and stock (but leave the liver out, as it can create quite a bitter taste) or stuffing, and should be cooked within 2 days of purchase.

Cook it:
Roast at 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6 (whole chicken: 25 minutes per 500g, plus an extra 25 minutes; breasts, 15 minutes; thighs and wings, 40 minutes).
Grill or barbecue (breast, 7-10 minutes; cubes or strips, 5-7 minutes; drumsticks and thighs, 25-30 minutes; wings, 40 minutes). 
Stir fry (cubes or strips, 5-7 minutes). Always check that there is no pink meat and that the juices run clear (pierce with a sharp knife or skewer) before serving.

Details from here

and here is a recipe idea you may like 
Baked Mediterranean Chicken

see details / recipe here

All the best Jan


Jo said...

We eat chicken regularly as it's one thing that we all enjoy, cooked in a variety of different ways.

Mo said...


Conniecrafter said...

It is so good to hear that more and more farmers are going the free range way and stopping all the antibiotics and such to the birds, there is a difference in taste too that I think. I do love chicken more than turkey but I change it up every now and then for my hubby :)

baili said...

yummy sharing dear ,chicken is one thing on which i can blackmail my kids that if they won't do this or that they will miss their fav dish then,they are crazy about it

Judith @ Lavender Cottage said...

Interesting info on buying and eating chicken. I find it one meat that is easily digested, unlike pork and beef for which I use a digestive enzyme.
When I first started buying free range eggs from a local farmer we found they tasted so much better than the store bought ones.

Martha said...

I'm not a huge meat eater but when I do eat it, chicken is what I'll choose. Or fish, especially salmon.

Jemma@athomewithjemma said...

Free range is the only way to go-such a huge difference and I feel as though I am eating clean that way too.

Stephanie said...

Sweet Jan, I always enjoy your informative post. We enjoy chicken from time to time in our household and I must say I am quite picky about choosing one that's good :) I always look for the chicken that has been processed and packaged in the USA as many companies are now sending the product to China to be packaged and then sent back here.

Thanks for the great post, dear one. Hugs to you!

eileeninmd said...

Hello, I agree with buying only the free-range chicken. We enjoy chicken prepared almost any way. I am always looking for new recipes. Thanks for sharing. Happy Thursday, enjoy your day!

Debbie said...

you always get me thinking...always!! i buy the rotisserie chickens at costco, that is probably shameful. with just the 2 of us, i get 3 meals out of a 5 dollar chicken, and they are delicious. i love chicken, prepared any way, and it is almost always our "meat" choice. my hubby has trouble swallowing beef, so we rarely eat it!!!!

Siobhan said...

Chicken is the one meal I can get all the kids to eat ... I usually roast my own because I don't care for all the stuff they inject into the store bought ones. Plus nothing makes the house smell better than roasting a chicken. :)

Launna said...

I love chicken, it's one of the reasons I could never be a vegetarian. I only buy boneless chicken breastfeeding (not cheap) ... I guess I should go organic for even better flavor xox ♡♡

Carla from The River said...

Oh my, I hope you are staying cozy. :-) Did you receive any snow?

We love chicken. It is our family favorite. Thank you for all the good posts about what we put in our bodies, I do appreciate it!!

The Happy Whisk said...

We had to move to organic locally grown birds awhile ago now and wow, what a difference in the meat. Also, air chilled. True the birds are smaller and less plump, but lots of that plump is forced on the birds and it's just not good. No reason for it other than to bulk up the price. But the organic local birds in my area at least, really good eats.

Happy Weekend.

The Happy Whisk said...

PS: Although now, I'm having allergic reactions to even the good birds so they are off the menu.

Lisa said...

Chicken is just so versatile, we eat it a lot here. It's something I know everyone likes and ensures for an easy mean time.
Roast chicken.... I can almost smell it now.
Lisa x