Today is National Poultry Day. I'm not quite sure how to celebrate this random holiday, but I thought this would be a great chance to discuss chickens. Did you know that up until World War II chickens were a premium poultry only consumed by those who could afford one? These days chicken is widely available everywhere, at any time of the year. There are many types of chickens with each variety ideal for a specific kind of cooking. For example the broiler-fryer chickens are best for broiling or frying and roasters are most useful when roasting. Free range chickens are the elite of the poultry because each chicken is allowed the freedom to roam outdoors and they are fed a special vegetarian diet fortified with vitamins. Mass produced birds are only alloted a square foot of space in which to roam.
When picking out a chicken at the grocery store look for a meaty, full breasted bird with plump short legs. The skin should range in color from cream to yellow and is soft and smooth to touch. Avoid chickens that smell funny. If the chicken is tightly packed, loosen or remove it and wrap the bird in wax paper and store in the coldest part of the fridge. Raw chicken will keep chilled for 2 days and cooked for 3. To conserve maximum flavor don't freeze raw chicken for over 2 months and cooked for up to a month. Although only 4% of salmonella poisonings are chicken-related, be cautious when handling the raw bird. Wash all utensils and cutting boards immediately after contact with raw chicken. It's a good idea to reserve one cutting board for poultry only.