There is an older post (and yes, I really need to retake the pictures) on How to Roast a Chicken here on Home-Ec 101. Over the weekend a commenter asked “What kind of chicken should I buy?”
To be very clear, we’re talking about different kinds of chicken for cooking, not different kinds of chickens for raising. If you want to know about raising chickens, my good friend Angela is all over that (and is currently writing a book on Backyard Farming). Here on Home-Ec 101 we just focus on eating chicken.
In the past choosing the proper chicken for the cooking method used to matter more. Now with commercial farming being the way it is -insert a reminder to consider buying chickens that are raised locally and humanely- it’s important to remember that chickens are raised to produce meat as quickly and efficiently as possible, so even your larger roasting / stewing hens are not “tough old birds” like they used to be, in supermarkets, at least.
Now there is a caveat, those bargain bags of leg quarters, can be from retired laying hens and they may not be as tender as your fryer chickens. While I’m perfectly happy using leg quarters for frying -I personally think they have great flavor. Some people may find that they prefer to use these bargain cuts in recipes for stewing and braising. My personal favorites are Stewed Chicken and Chicken Bog.
If you are buying your chickens from somewhere other than a supermarket the type of chicken may matter.
Buy broilers and fryers (small, younger chickens) for your quick cooking methods. Know that young chicken has less chicken-y flavor than older chicken and should probably be seasoned more heavily (this does not mean salt, I mean with herbs and spices).
Stewing chickens should be cooked with a slower, preferably wet cook. These are perfect for your crockpot / slow cooker recipes, which are by default using the braising cooking method.
I hope this helps you feel more confident when you navigate your poultry purchases.
You may also find this post, A Guide to Cooking and Using Chicken helpful
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