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My (free-range) chicken problems. Philosophy, ethics and bad cooking.

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My (free-range) chicken problems. Philosophy, ethics and bad cooking.

Mar a | Sep 9, 2004 12:31 PM

I have twice bought free-range chicken at my local farmers market, from two different vendors, and both times the results were disappointing. I am not experienced in cooking poultry, so I was ready to blame my lack of skill.
HOwever, a couple of people tell me that country-raised, free-to-roam chicken is invariably less tender than factory-farm chicken.
Also, another farmer tells me that my second chicken, being quite big, was probably a hen! Therefore only good for soup. How was I supposed to know?
To add to the aggravation, I used to buy organic roast chicken from Eberly Farms at Fairway (NY) and the store seems to have discontinued it. They do sell Murray's "free-range" but I read that the free-range label doesn't mean anything because it's not regulated by the government.
So if I want free-range chicken it seems my choices are: (a) buy from the farmers market and make soup or, (b) eat fish (wild Alaskan etc.) Btw I'd love to be a vegetarian, but I cook for some other people in my family who won't, so I think I'm better off buying a less-mistreated chicken than letting them buy supermarket chicken.
Any thoughts about:
--telling a chicken from a hen
--cooking tough poultry
--finding free-roam, organic roast chicken on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (takeout)
will be appreciated.

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