Chicken is one of the most popular and versatile staples in our diets. What can you NOT do with chicken? Even many of those that do not eat “meat” will eat chicken. Chicken can easily substitute for almost any other protein in a recipe and do so successfully.
Chickens can be categorized into the six basic grades as follows:
Frying Chickens (also called Broiling Chickens or Fryers)
They are 2 1/2 months old, and range from 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 pounds (1 to 1 1/2 kilos.) They are sold whole or in pieces. They were raised specifically for meat
Broilers: Chickens from 6-7 weeks old. They usually weigh between 1-3 ½ pounds. The smaller 1pound birds are often sold as “Cornish Game Hens” or even “Squab Broilers” and are served one per person. The larger ones will be either split in half or quartered. When split in half, each half is often considered a serving. When quartered they are used mainly for sautés.
Fryers: Chickens from 7-13 weeks old. These will weigh between 1-4 pounds. Fryers are compact in build with a small amount of fat and full plump breasts. They can be used for roasting, but are many quartered and used for frying.
Roasting Chickens (Large Fryers): Better for roasting as they have more fat. They range in weight from 3 1/2 – 6 pounds (1.4 - 2.8 kilos). Usually sold whole
Roasters: Chickens about 3 to 5 months old. Roasters weigh between 5 to 7 pounds. They usually yield more meat per pound than do fryers. The breast bone should still be pliable. Roasting whole or used in casseroles best suit these birds.
Sometimes referred to as just "fowl." These are older, tougher birds used for soups, stews, boiled dinners or braising. Though the meat is tough, the flavour is excellent. They will weigh 3 to 6 pounds (1.4 to 2.8 kilos.) They are pretty hard to come by , because consumers stopped buying them.
Fowl or Stewing Chicken: Chickens between 10 months and 1 ½ years old. These weigh between 3-8 pounds and although one of the most flavourful they do require slow moist cooking to break down the connective tissues.
Capons: Unsexed Chickens from 5 months to 1 year old. These usually weigh 8-9 pounds. Because of the inactive lifestyle they have generous quantities of moist, tender, tasty flesh and are wonderful braised or roasted.
Cock or Rooster: A mature male chicken with tough dark meats. Used only when making slow cooking stews.
Now you know which birds you should buy for which dish….now let’s start cooking.