Chicken Breast, The Wonder Bread of the Meat World

By Iron Chef Leftovers

This article appeared in Seattle Weekly recently. It had the lovely title “Should a Restaurant Warn Its Customers Before Serving Dark Meat”. Basically, there was an editor of the Weekly, Caleb Hannan, who went to Skillet and ordered a fried chicken sandwich, expecting it to be a chicken breast but it was not. Hannan asked:

“When a menu says chicken, don’t you assume it’s the breast?,”

To which the author of the article, Hanna Raskin replied:

I don’t. I figure the chef will use whichever part of the chicken is best suited for the dish. While that’s frequently a breast, chefs who prize flavor aren’t averse to working with legs and thighs. If I received an unanticipated thigh, I’d be pretty psyched.

I am with Hanna Raskin here. If you went to a restaurant and ordered a burger, are you expecting it to always be ground chuck? If a menu just said steak, would you expect them to be serving fillet. Do you expect that your fish in your fish sandwich or fish and chips is always halibut? Of course not, so then why in hell would you expect a chicken sandwich to be breast meat.

To Caleb – if you don’t like dark meat and it doesn’t specifically say breast, DON’T FREAKING ASSUME IT IS BREAST MEAT. The rule in dining out or buying food to cook at home is always: if you are not sure about something, ASK!

I personally don’t understand the aversion to dark meat. It has tons of flavor, it doesn’t dry out (bones and collagen are wonderful things), it is at least as healthy if not more healthy for you than white meat and it is several dollars a pound cheaper. From the National Chicken Council:

The domestic preference for white meat is considerable. White meat beats out dark by a 2-1 margin, a statistic boosted by queasiness about eating meat on the bone and the false belief that white meat is healthier. Since the 1950s, when chicken processers began packaging meat so buyers wouldn’t be stuck with whole birds, white meat’s reigned as the default definition of chicken.

It also appears that the rest of the world prefers dark meat to white by about the opposite margin. Once again, America does the opposite of what the other 6.5 billion people on the planet do.

Chicken Breast is the Wonder Bread of meat – it is relatively flavorless, doesn’t provide you with a great deal of nutrition outside of the calories and is just a vehicle for whatever you are putting on it. People – buy the whole bird (I wrote about the reasons for it here). If you hate dark meat, just make stock out of it. Trust me, it will still be cheaper in the long run than buying those prepackaged chicken breasts, and who knows, you might start to appreciate the tastiness that is dark meat poultry.

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