Saturday, January 06, 2007

Pass the boneful, skinful chicken, please...[Re-post from 2006]

The poultry industry is nervous these days. Avian flu is a constant presence in the news - not an attractive marketing image. Kudos to the industry for an active response, BTW [readers will note my refusal to use the pretend word: proactive]. In fact, despite sentimentality to the contrary, our poultry industry may not be as vulnerable to the spread of avian flu as the more picturesque small farm operations. I still recall how foot-and-mouth spread through the English livestock sector - through small farmers traveling to small markets. Good system for warm feelings about farms; bad for quarantine efforts.

But there may be more subtle issues at work as well having to do with eating habits.

I think one of them is this: chicken breasts are very healthy because of all the components they don't have much of - fat, cholesterol, yadda, yadda . Fair enough. But after a few years, it dawns on you they don't have much flavor, either. Julia Child was right - fat is where the flavor is. That's why Jan has switched most of our (many) chicken recipes to thighs.

There are secondary benefits. The frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts [FBSCB's - pronounced fub-scubs] you buy in 20# "Bag-O-Breasts" are getting huger and huger as chicken breeders work strange miracles on chicken architecture. OK - most people may want that product, but it still doesn't make it good-tasting. Using chicken thighs (leg quarters) - the despised dark meat - we can keep our portions in line with our calorie expenditure, which on the average January day is ummm, minimal.

Best of all the poultry industry practically gives thighs away. They provide more "juice" for sauces, and if you want, you can always skip the skin. Switching to thighs has improved my appetite - that's for sure.

Now there's a sentence that could come back to haunt me...

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