Chicken is chicken, right? I recently came to understand that this just isn’t true. But there are so many label claims. What positively effects the flavor?
Pasture-raised means that weather permitting, the chickens have to have access to pastures to move around. These breasts tend to be a bit smaller because the birds move around more, but are very flavorful.
Free-range means that the chickens are allowed access to the outside, but even then, the National Chicken Council admits that chickens will stay near food and water, which is kept inside.
Vegetarian feed means that their food contains no animal by-products. Chicken don’t inherently choose to eat meat, so feeding them soy or corn isn’t a stretch for farmers.
Organic chicken is raised with USDA guidelines including eating organic feed. Whether the word organic effects the chickens’ living conditions isn’t always true, but many feel organic meat tastes better.
Words that are strictly marketing opportunities are ‘natural’ and ‘cage-free’. Most meats meet the definition of natural and roasting chickens aren’t housed in cages. This pertains to egg laying chickens.
If MSG is a concern for you, look at ingredient list for words such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, autolyzed yeast, hydrolzed yeast, yeast extract, soy extracts and protein isolate. (www.eatthisnotthat/5_rules_buy_healthy_chicken)
If you’ve had concerns of white meat vs. dark due to calorie concerns, don’t. Dark meat only has 3 more calories than white, and many feel the flavor is richer in dark meat. Use both for variety.
According to Cooking Light Magazine, ground chicken contains about 20% skin and 15% fat (the same ratio as a whole chicken).
If you don’t want skin in your ground meat, choose ground chicken breast. To counter balance the dryness, add 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil for each pound of meat to keep it juicy. (Cooking Light, July 2016)
To eradicate the myth- don’t rinse your chicken before cooking. It spreads bacteria in a 2-3 foot radius of your sink, and the cooking process removes any concerning germs.
I love chicken because it’s so versatile in picking up what ever flavor profile you seek. Now you have more info to make the best choice for your family.
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