Chicken is the most popular protein source in the world with an estimated world population of 24 billion in 2003. Castrated roosters are called capons, and young (under one year) chickens, pullets.
The natural life of chicken varies from five to eleven years. Especially bred chickens lay up to 300 eggs per year.
This flightless bird (except for very short distances) lives in flocks, and each flock has a pecking order.
Prior to 1910, chicken in North America was considered a delicacy and served on weekends and on special celebratory occasions.
There are hundreds of breeds, some specially bred for egg laying, others for meat, some for dual purposes and there are even breeds for fights especially in the Orient and Central American countries.
Chickens were one of the first animals domesticated around 8000 years ago and to this day breeders succeed in creating new strains to suit special demands and purposes.
According to the latest research, chicken meat gram for gram delivers the most protein than any meat. Skinless chicken breast is the leanest of all proteins including salmon.
Of all the breeds whiter and blue feet Bresse chicken from France are the most famous and tasty in France and even in Europe. The French ministry of agriculture found it necessary to bestow it with an appellation controllee status. It can only be bred and raised in a specific region, must be fed with a special diet, and be free range, plus on a certain age before it may be slaughtered.
In most industrialized countries today, chicken is raised in huge specially designed buildings (essentially they are factories) under the most inhumane conditions imaginable and fed specially developed feeds to retain moisture.
Free range chickens that roam in the field and feed on a variety of grass, insects, worms and other edibles taste better, but may be slightly tougher than the so-called manufactured chickens.
In many developing countries lacking modern amenities, chickens are still purchased alive and slaughtered by the vendor.
In developed countries chickens are always packaged whole, or cut into pieces and offered for sale generally displayed in refrigerators or ice to delay drying out and contamination.
Japanese still eat raw chicken as a delicacy, but such birds must be hygienically slaughtered and handled to avoid contamination.
It is best to cook chicken before consumption, but overcooking reduces enjoyment and toughens the meat.
can be grilled, sautéed, broiled, poached, boiled, used in soups, and fore stocks.
Here is a recipe you may want to try:
Grilled chicken and mushroom salad
Yield 6 – 8 portions
1/3-cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 clove garlic, minced
2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
175 grams of oyster mushrooms, trimmed
125 grams of shiitake mushrooms, stemmed
8 cups of mixed greens
In a large bowl, combine 2 tbsp of oil, with the mustard, rosemary and garlic. Marinate chicken in this mixture for a few minutes, and grill for approximately 6 minutes on each side. (The time depends of the heat and thickness of the meat).
Remove chicken breasts, wait for a couple of minutes and slice thinly.
Toss mushrooms in a little of oil and grill for approximately 5 minutes.
Divide greens equally in bowls place chicken on top.
Whisk together first salt and lemon, then add mustard, pepper and adjust seasoning.
Drizzle over salads.
Note: Mushrooms can be substituted with regular or crimini mushrooms widely available in grocery stores.
Chicken breast oregano
Yield – Six portions
6 breasts of chicken, boned and skinned
1 tbsp oregano
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup of dry white wine (Riesling recommended)
4 tbsp brandy (may be omitted)
3 cloves of garlic
flour as needed
salt and pepper to taste
Flatten chicken breasts and rub with lemon juice and oregano, half-an-hour before cooking. In sauté pan, combine olive oil and garlic and sauté until garlic turns brown. Discard garlic. Dredge chicken breasts in flour and fry on both sides. Add wine and reduce to half. Flame with brandy. (You may omit this step).