Something Fowl

Type of Post: 
What's on my Plate?

Light and Heavy FowlI was preparing a recipe that called for a fowl. That's not so unusual; fowl are tough old birds, stringier and better suited for the stockpot than for roasting or frying. Fowl are used instead of younger birds when flavor is important and tenderness is not.

But I encountered an unexpected complication. At Compare Foods in downtown Worcester, I found Fresh Heavy Fowl and Fresh Light Fowl - what to do? The heavy fowl was much more expensive per pound (although still cheap), but I had no other clues. So I came home and did some more research. Here's what I learned.

Heavy FowlChickens are raised for meat or for laying eggs, and the birds that are bred to be good at one are not so well suited for the other.  Of course, the ones bred for meat come from eggs, too, but those eggs are laid by big meaty mamas.

When either type reaches the end of her laying life, it is slaughtered for fowl. The meat-producer chickens become heavy fowl and the egg-producing chickens become light fowl. Since you're looking for flavor, the heavy fowl is the superior choice for stocks and stews. 

thanks Bill!

I added a link to the book into your text, so readers who are interested in The I Hate To Cook Book can learn more about it and then click through to Amazon for even more information and more editions.

Sunday Chicken

The discussion of flavorful chicken reminded me to post my recent experience with a dish recently and happily rediscovered.

On a recent visit to sunny Florida, Mother Rita dusted off a chicken recipe that was a staple in our home during my childhood. Originally from Peg Bracken's classic The I Hate to Cook Book (Fawcett Publications; 1ST edition - 1960) Sunday Chicken was renamed "Curry Chicken" by my mother and served typically in late summer to bring the aromas of fall cooking into the home.

Bracken's book is among a genre of mid-20th century mass-market guides offering recipes for inexpensive comfort foods to the unpretentious and growing suburban population. The recipes are simple, (60's housewives did not have the culinary sophistication or experience of the prewar generation) and refreshingly free from current day trendy ingredients.

The recipe does assume that one is capable of cutting up a whole chicken. And while, today, most would simply buy the pre-cut chicken or substitute boneless-skinless-tatesless breast, I opted to prepare Curry Chicken as Mom would have done in 1968 and hacked up my fowl.

Because my family suffers from an unfortunate distrust of anything that sounds East-Indian, I introduced the dish to the table under its original name, Sunday Chicken. The simple blend of onion, apple, curry powder, cream, and canned soup over chicken spiced with salt, pepper and paprika filled the home with an aroma that brought me back to my kid-years in PA, and was a hit with the family.

So for one Sunday dinner, we were dined in 1960's suburbia with flickering black & white televisions, avocado-green kitchens and boomerang-motif Formica tables. Thanks Peg Bracken... and thanks Mom! -- Brother Bill