Knowing how you want to prepare chicken and then which types of chickens will give you the best results is the way to have a perfect poultry supper. Chicken meat gets tougher and leaner the older the bird is. Chickens are named by the method of preparation that is best for each type.
Broilers and Fryers
Broiler chickens are six to eight weeks old and weigh 2 1/2 pounds. Fryers are of similar age, but slightly bigger. Both of these chickens are prepared in various ways. They are tender enough for roasting, or cut up into pieces for frying or baking.
Roaster chickens are older, but less than 8 months old. They generally weigh between 3 1/2 to 5 pounds. These are young chickens and because they are raised for their meat are tender enough to prepare in any way. They make an abundant, family-size meal when roasted whole. They also produce larger pieces when butchered. When you buy a whole chicken at the grocery store, you are usually purchasing a roaster.
A stewing chicken is older, more than 10 months, and weighs from 5 to 7 pounds. These chickens are tougher. They are often culled laying hens. The best way to cook these chickens is slowly and for a long time, such as in a crock pot. Their meat is too stringy and tough for roasting or frying.
Other types of chicken
Some Asian markets sell cocks or roosters for eating. These are tough birds and should be treated like stewing chickens. Capons are castrated male chickens. They grow slowly, putting on extra fat, and produce very tender, flavorful meat. Capons are roasted, braised or poached. A cornish hen is very small, only 1 to 2 pounds, and is usually stuffed and baked whole, one per person.
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