Choosing and Buying Poultry

Choosing Poultry

Chicken

When buying chicken, it usually pays to choose the best quality you can afford. Free-range birds have a far superior flavour to battery-reared supermarket poultry, and yellow corn-fed chickens tend to have richer flesh and a better flavour than other varieties.

The cheapest birds are those that have been blast-frozen and polythene-wrapped. Whilst meat from these birds may provide a cheap source of protein, it tends to be characterless and lacking in flavour. Avoid buying frozen chicken with noticeable chunks of ice between it and the bottom of its wrappings; this means that it may have partially defrosted and then been re-frozen, causing a reduction in the quality of the meat. You should also bear in mind that all chickens are drawn through a bath of water after they have been plucked and drawn; whilst this water evaporates off from chilled-chickens, this is not the case for frozen birds. Not only will this frozen water be part of the chickens stated weight, but it will also leave the chicken standing in a pool of pink liquid when it is defrosted.

Most chickens are intensively reared birds - even birds from a butcher's will not be free range unless specifically advertised as such.

Goose

If you're buying a goose, look for one with a creamy coloured skin (almost pale apricot), without any trace of brown or blue. You should also check that it is a young bird, with a pliable breastbone and a well-filled, plump breast.

With any luck, the goose will have already been plucked for you - if not, placing it into a large bowl filled with boiling water to loosen the feathers will make the task easier.

Duck

Like chickens, ducks are available as fresh or deep-frozen; with fresh usually yielding a better quality product. Free-range ducks are a much better choice than battery-reared ducks.