Chef Zarar Khan shares that “it is critical to understand the ingredients to provide justice for your recipe; hence there are certain bases on which chickens can be characterized.”
Chicken is one of the most popular meats, liked by eminent chefs and home cooks alike worldwide. However, the immense global popularity that chicken enjoys makes one wonder what may be the reason. From easy availability to great taste or its versatility are some of the distinguishing features of chicken meat. Every chef seeks to enhance the flavours of the dish they make. An important factor that can help you improve your chicken dishes is knowing and understanding some basic types of chicken to know which type to use for your recipe. This simple knowledge can help you take your dish up a notch and earn much admiration from your family and friends. Knowing these basics help further understand the dynamics of the meat you are cooking and can help you determine what suits your dish better.
Culinary Chef Zarar Khan (Academy of Pastry & Culinary Arts, Mumbai) has compiled some information about a few basic types of chicken.
- Poussin chicken- A poussin or spring chicken is a young chicken famous in the commonwealth countries. A poussin is typically less than a month old at the time of slaughter and is relatively more minor in size, with its weight usually falling between 400-450 grams. It has a slight and mild flavour and carries somewhat less fat due to its small size.
- Spring Chicken – Spring chicken gets its distinguished name because it was traditionally produced in the spring season. It is also known as a double baby chicken due to being more extensive than the usual size, and its weight usually ranges between 400gm to 450gm. As for the meat, it is very tender and ideal for roasting, tandoor, and grilling.
- Broiler or Fryer – A broiler is a young chicken, typically less than ten weeks old. It is characterized by supple breastbone cartilage and a smooth texture of the skin. Its tender meat allows it to be a versatile choice and suit any cooking method. A broiler is slightly smaller (1.2 kg) than a fryer (1.2 to 1.6kg.). Broilers are usually used for broiling, fried, braise, casserole dishes.
- Roasting Chicken or Roaster – A roaster is a comparatively older chicken of either sex with its usual age range being 3-5 months and weight about 2.2kg. The meat of a roaster is tender, but it lacks flexibility in the breastbone cartilage area. While roasting is a go-to method for this type of chicken, as evident in its name, it also goes well with other procedures like stewing, braising, pan-frying, and grilling.
- Capon – A capon is a castrated form of chicken typically 4-8 months old. This famous bird is slightly more expensive owing to its great flavour and large breast. The weight range of this breed lies between 2.2 to 3.5kgs. Capons, while popular choices for are roasted dishes, are also sometimes used for poaching or braising.
- Fowl / Hen – Hens are laying birds used for their meat post their prime laying period. Since their age is substantially more than the other options available, their meat is significantly tough and their breastbone cartilage is s also sturdier. This is why their use is restricted chiefly to stew dishes, as the longer cooking time allows the meat to become softer. They are also sometimes known as stewing chickens for this reason.
- Cock or Rooster – This breed is usually about ten months old at the time of slaughter, making it an adult. A cock/ roaster has hard, dark meat and is traditionally used in dishes with slower methods and longer cooking time as it allows the meat to become smoother. It is a popular choice for dishes like stew and braise.