Chickens have been domesticated to provide eggs and meat since before 1400 BC. The Chinese raised them for generations. The Polynesians brought these useful birds with them to Chile in the 1300s. Since then, the chicken has become a worldwide food staple. They are easy to raise and provide nutritious protein… oh, and they provide one of the most versatile meats in the world.
Just about every culture in the world has chicken recipes. China, Japan, Italy, England, France, and Mexico… the list goes on and on. This low cholesterol meat is mild flavored, relatively inexpensive, and can be fashioned in any number of imaginative ways into tasty, healthy meals.
What Kind of Chicken is found at the Market?
At the supermarket, you will find whole chickens, fryers that are cut up or halved, and portions of all one kind such as breasts, thighs, or drumsticks. If you like giblets, you can also find small tubs of livers or gizzards. You can buy chicken on the bone or boneless. All of these options make planning meals a snap for the home cook.
Whole chickens are less expensive than a package of all breasts. The less processing the meat packers do, the more savings you get. If you do not feel comfortable or do not have time to cut up a chicken yourself, you can always opt for one that has been cut up or deboned for you.
What Can You Do With Chicken?
If you have a whole chicken on hand, you can roast it and make soup the next day. Chicken pieces can be fricasseed, fried, stewed, or put in the oven. Boneless pieces can be cut up and added to soup, pasta, stir-fries, or sauts. They are very versatile. Chicken casserole recipes are numerous and as varied as there are cooks to make them.
Use chicken in Italian dishes like chicken linguine, French dishes like chicken and shallots, or Indian recipes like chicken tandoori. Asian recipes like peanut chicken, orange peel chicken and others add some zing to what may otherwise be an ordinary day. Make pollo relleno or chicken a la Tex Mex for a little spice. Each ethnic region also has many chicken soup varieties to try too.
Another great thing about chicken that makes it so versatile is that you can choose either dark or white meat. They each have a different texture, and work well in so many different meals. Dark meat can take more cooking without drying than white meat can. It also soaks up sauces well. White meat is firmer and works well in chicken salad, on the grill or in sandwiches.
In conclusion, let us give thanks to the humble chicken. It is low in fat and cholesterol. It is easily digested. It fits into just about any dish in any cuisine with delicious results. Chicken offers more versatility than almost any other food. Chicken soup has even been shown in scientific studies to help us when we are sick. We owe a lot to the chicken, which has filled a necessary place in the food chain.