A fresh look at fowl

We invite you to try something a bit different this Shabbat.


By Georgie Tarn and Tracey Fine, August 1, 2011
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A kosher butcher's best-selling meat

A kosher butcher's best-selling meat

Chicken is part of the bedrock of Jewish cuisine and, in fact, is the most popular meat sold at kosher butchers due to its versatility and price. What would Friday night be without chicken soup, chopped liver and a roast chicken?

Kosher chicken has a fantastic reputation for being tender, delicious and succulent. Jonathan Perlmutter of Perlmutter and sons butcher, Southgate, north London said: "The reason for this is due to the way the bird is killed, because all the blood is drained away it seems to give the bird a better taste." Because of their tenderness and flavour many a non-kosher consumer finds their way to a kosher butcher to give themselves a treat.

Here are a few ideas if you fancy trying something a bit different on Shabbat:

Birds: Poussin

● Poussin is a specially bred baby chicken, killed just before it reaches six weeks old. It weighs approximately 250g (9oz) and serves one, or perhaps two delicate eaters. Such a young bird has less flavour, but is an elegant dinner party option and delicious stuffed with fresh apple, sage and oregano, or served with a tasty sauce.

Capon

● You will need to order this interesting alternative from your butcher. A capon (a castrated young rooster) is large, at about 6 or 7kg (13lbs) and is moist, fleshy and full of flavour - in part due to its higher fat content. Castration of chickens has been banned in the UK for several decades, but is legal elsewhere in the EU and can therefore be sourced, for a cost. UK-raised birds labelled "capon" are more likely to be large chickens, bred and raised for later slaughter. They tend to be more readily available around Christmas, but can be ordered at other times.

Turkey

● Excellent for Yomtovim. Turkey breast meat can be dry, so an alternative to a whole bird might be rolled turkey. A butcher can roll dark or white meat or a mixture. Many butchers sell stuffed rolled turkey, filled with a variety of stuffings, such as traditional Maygellah stuffing of beef fat and matzo meal, or for the health conscious, apricot and chicken stuffing - lean minced chicken, apricots, mixed herbs, breadcrumbs.

Boiling Fowl

● These female birds are more than 18 months old and the best you can buy for chicken soup. For a really great soup, use the whole fowl plus an extra pack of chicken wings. To reduce the fat content ask for the bird to be skinned.

Inside the bird: Golden Eggs

● Our grandmothers would always have added these to chicken soup. A golden egg is found within the chicken when killed. It has no shell. With meat production now totally automated, the eggs are much less common in butchers' shops than they used to be. Michelle Silverman at Ivor Silverman Butcher calls them as "gold dust" and says she "hides them away for her special customers".

Add them to your cold chicken soup, heat slowly and once it is at boiling point, simmer for at least five minutes so the eggs are completely cooked.

Giblets

● These tiny innards make great stock, soup and gravy when poached with water,, vegetables and herbs; but leave the liver for chopping as it can make your stock bitter.

A cut above

● These are a few cuts of chicken worth seeking out:

Birds nest is the top half of the chicken - the two breasts joined together.

A supreme refers to the chicken breast with some of the wing bone attached, but can also mean a chicken breast with bone and skin removed.

Boned thighs are wonderful stuffed and roasted. Your butcher can fillet them for you.

    Last updated: 10:00am, August 1 2011