CategoryMeat and poultry

Cookbook | Recipes | Ingredients | Basic foodstuffs | Meat and poultry

Chicken is a type of poultry meat.

Characteristics edit

Overall, chicken meat is quite mild compared to other meats. It can be broadly divided into dark and white meats;[1] dark meat has more fat and myoglobin and is overall more flavorful, while white meat are leaner and much milder.[2][3] As a chicken gets older, the lower breastbone ossifies, making its stiffness a way to measure the age of the bird.[3]

Varieties edit

While there are different breeds of chicken, the varieties in cooking are primarily distinguished by age/size, as well as by sex in some cases.[4]

  • Poussin: small and/or very young; less than 1 pound (450 g).[1][4][5]
  • Broiler/fryer: young; about 7 weeks old; 2½–4½ pounds (1–2 kg); tender and leaner meat.[1]
  • Rock Cornish game hen: young and small broiler/fryer; 1–2 pounds (0.5–1 kg).[1][4]
  • Roaster: mid-age; 3–5 months old; 5–7 pounds (2.25–3.25 kg); tender meat.[1]
  • Capon: castrated male; 4–8 months old; 4–7 pounds (1.75–3.25 kg); tender, light meat with relatively high fat.[1]
  • Stewing/baking hen: mature female; 10–18 months old; tougher but more flavorful meat.[1]
  • Cock/rooster: a mature male chicken with coarse skin and tough, dark meat.

Cuts edit

Chickens may be used in their entirety, or they may be broken down into the following main cuts and sub-cuts.

Breast edit

Chicken breast is considered white meat and is generally lean and somewhat dry. It can be subdivided into the following:

  • Breast: Large section of muscle from the chest of the bird; often sold boneless
  • Tenderloin: Sections between the breast and ribs

Wing edit

The wing is another type of white meat, and it is often eaten as a snack food. It consists of the following:

  • Drumette: Upper part of the wing
  • Flat or wingette: Middle part of the wing
  • Tip: Very end of the wing; rarely eaten on its own

Leg edit

The leg is considered dark meat and is less lean than white meat. It may be sold whole, but it may also be separated into the following:

  • Thigh: Upper part of the leg
  • Drumstick: Lower part of the leg

Other edit

  • Giblets (including heart, liver, gizzard)
  • Head
  • Feet
  • Neck
  • Kidneys
  • Intestines
  • Lungs

Selection and storage edit

The best source for chicken is a reputable butcher or market, and ideally one who can tell you how the chicken was raised, slaughtered, and processed. Whole plucked and cleaned chickens are common and cheapest per-pound, but packages of specific cuts are also widely available.

If you can smell the meat, it should be fresh, with no hint of spoilage or off odors. Unless it has just been slaughtered, the meat should be cold to the touch and have no significant discoloration. Air-chilled chicken will have less retained fluid than water-chilled. It's a good idea to make sure the raw meat is well-segregated from any food that may be eaten raw in order to avoid cross-contamination. Avoid leaving the chicken at room temperature for prolonged periods. Store fresh chicken in the refrigerator, and use it within a few days. For prolonged storage, it can be well wrapped in plastic and frozen—it will technically be safe indefinitely, though it can become freezer-burned after several months.

When purchasing fully cooked rotisserie or fast food chicken, be sure it is hot at time of purchase. Use it within a couple hours, or cut it into pieces and refrigerate/freeze it. Eat within 3–4 days.

Safety edit

As on any perishable meat, fish, or poultry, bacteria can be found on raw or undercooked chicken—one common contaminant of raw chicken is Salmonella. These must be destroyed by thorough cooking of any food to 71 °C (160 °F). Make sure to defrost chicken safely, as you would any other raw meat.

Use edit

As an overall mild-tasting meat, chicken is suited for a range of preparations. Generally the method of cooking is determined by the tenderness of the chicken and its cut. Younger varieties (see above) can be quickly fried or broiled, mid-age roasters and capons are good roasted, and older and tougher varieties must be slow- and moist-cooked in order to tenderize the meat.[1][4] Breast meat is good for cutlets as well as slivered and stir-fried, and the legs are good when baked/roasted.[6] The carcass, neck, and feet are excellent for use when making chicken stock.

Substitution edit

Recipes edit

References edit

  1. a b c d e f g h Labensky, Sarah R.; Hause, Alan M.; Martel, Priscilla (2018-01-18). On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals. Pearson. ISBN 978-0-13-444190-0.
  2. Farrimond, Stuart (2017-09-19). The Science of Cooking: Every question answered to perfect your cooking. Penguin. ISBN 978-1-4654-7079-9.
  3. a b Green, Aliza (2012-06-01). The Butcher's Apprentice: The Expert's Guide to Selecting, Preparing, and Cooking a World of Meat. Quarry Books. ISBN 978-1-61058-393-0.
  4. a b c d Gisslen, Wayne (2014-04-15). Professional Cooking. Wiley. ISBN 978-1-118-63672-5.
  5. Davidson, Alan (2014-01-01). Jaine, Tom (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199677337.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19-967733-7.
  6. "Why I Only Buy Whole Chickens (and You Can, Too!)". Serious Eats. Retrieved 2024-03-06.