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Chapter 12

Understanding Poultry & Game Birds


Copyright 2011 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Composition and Structure


Poultry is the generic term for domesticated birds Poultry is generally the least expensive and most versatile of all main dish foods It can be cooked by almost any cooking method, and its mild flavour goes well with a variety of sauces and accompaniments

Composition and Structure


The flesh of poultry and game birds is muscle tissue.
Muscle tissue is composed of:
Water (about 75%)

Protein (about 20%)


Fat (up to 5%) Other elements, including carbohydrate, in small quantities

Muscles consist of muscle fibers held together in bundles by connective tissue.


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Composition and Structure


Maturity and Tenderness
The tenderness of a piece of poultry is related to connective tissue.
Connective tissue increases with
Use or exercise of the muscle Maturity or age of the animal or bird

Use or exercise is of less concern in poultry. Maturity is a major consideration when selecting poultry, meaning, as bird gets older, bird gets tougher.
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Composition and Structure


Maturity and Tenderness
Young, tender birds are cooked by dry-heat methods, such as broiling, frying and roasting, as well as by moist heat methods.
Older, tougher birds need slow, moist heat to be made palatable.

Maturity is the major factor in categorizing each kind of poultry Skin color is determined by diet and is not related to the flavor or tenderness of the poultry. Birds that fly have only dark meat
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Composition and Structure


Free-Range Chickens
Most chickens on the market are:
Produced by large operations Housed indoors in carefully controlled environments Fed scientifically monitored diets

Free-range chickens are allowed to move around freely and eat outdoors in a more natural environment.

Composition and Structure


Free-Range Chickens
No legal definition of free-range Free-range chickens are considerably more expensive than ordinary chickens. Many people feel free-range chickens are more flavorful and worth the extra cost.

Composition and Structure


Free-Range Chickens
Organic: defined by the National Standard of Canada for Organic Agriculture as food produced without using:
Most conventional pesticides Fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge

Bioengineering
Ionizing radiation
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Composition and Structure


Light Meat and Dark Meat
Chicken and Turkey
Light meat: breast and wings
Less fat Less connective tissue Cooks faster

Dark meat: legs (drumsticks and thighs)


More fat More connective tissue Takes longer to cook
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Composition and Structure


Light Meat and Dark Meat
Duck, goose, and squab have all dark meat.
The same differences in connective tissue hold true Breast muscles have more Myoglobin (see next slide) and thus are darker.
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Composition and Structure


Light Meat and Dark Meat
Myoglobin: a protein that stores oxygen for muscles to use during periods of great activity
Dark color of dark meat is due to Myoglobin. Breast muscles of birds are used for flying. Chickens and turkeys rarely, if ever, fly; therefore, these muscles do not need a great deal of Myoglobin.

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Composition and Structure


Light Meat and Dark Meat
Cooking whole birds
A major problem in roasting poultry is cooking the legs to doneness without overcooking the breast.
Roast breast side down for part of cooking time to draw moisture/fat to breast, not away Baste with fat only, it protects from drying out (liquid will wash away protective fat Barding small birds with pork fat Seperating breast from leg section and roasting for different times, this is done with large turkeys
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Composition and Structure


Light Meat and Dark Meat
Cooking poultry parts
Recipes take into account the different cooking characteristics of each part.
For example, flattened chicken breast can be sauteed quickly and still be juicy and tender, turkey wings must be braised and have gelatin to make a rich sauce

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Inspection and Grading


Poultry is subject to federal inspection and grading
Inspection
1. 2. 3. A guarantee of wholesomeness (fit for human consumption) Indicated by a round stamp Required by Canadian law

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Inspection and Grading


Poultry is subject to federal inspection and grading
Grading
1. Based on quality

2.
3.

Indicated by a shield stamp and letter grade


Not required by Canadian law

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Classification and Market Forms


The following terms are used to classify poultry:
Kind: the species, such as chicken, turkey, or duck
Class: the subdivision of kind, depending on age and sex Style: the amount of cleaning and processing
Live: almost never purchased in food service Dressed: killed, bled and plucked (also rarely seen in food service) Ready to cook: dressed and eviscerated with head and feet removed Whole

Cut up, or parts

State of refrigeration: chilled or frozen

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Classification and Market Forms


Chicken
Most popular and widely eaten poultry in the world Contains white and dark meat Can be cooked by almost any cooking method Readily available fresh and frozen

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Classification and Market Forms


Chicken Classes
Class
Rock Cornish Game Hen Broiler/Fryer Roaster Capon Hen or fowl

Description
Young breed of chicken, tender Either sex, tender flesh, flexable cartilage Ether sex, tender flesh, less flexable cartilage Castrated male, very tender, well flavoured, big breast Mature female, tough flesh, hardened cartilage

Age
5 weeks or less 6 12 weeks 3 5 months Under 8 months Over 10 months

Weight Range
- 2lbs Broiler: 1 - 2 lbs Fryers: 2 - 3 lbs 3 - 5 lbs 5 8 lbs 3 - 6 lbs

Cock or rooster

Mature male, tough dark meat

Over 10 months

4 6 lbs
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Classification and Market Forms


Turkey Turkey is the second most popular poultry in Canada Has both white and dark meat Has a small amount of fat Young turkey lends itself to being prepared in almost any manner
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Classification and Market Forms


Turkey Classes
Class
Fryer-roaster Young turkey (hen or tom) Yearling turkey Mature turkey or old turkey (hen or tom)

Description
Young bird, either sex, flexable cartilage Young bird, either sex, less flexable cartilage Ether sex, fully mature turkey, fairly tender Old turkey with tough flesh

Age
Under 16 weeks 5 7 months Under 15 months Over 15 months

Weight Range
4 9 lbs 8 22 lbs 10 30 lbs 10 30 lbs

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Classification and Market Forms


Duck
Young duckling is most often used in foodservice operations Has only dark meat with a large percentage of fat High percentage of bone to meat One duck will feed two people, a 4lbs duck yields 1lbs raw lean meat (4lbs chicken yields 2lbs) Most ducks in Canada are White Pekin, specialty item called magret (mah-gray) is breast of moulard breed Magret breast is thicker and meatier Breast typically cooked rare, and leg braised or confit
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Classification and Market Forms


Duck Classes
Class
Broiler or Fryer Roaster duckling

Description
Young tender bird, either sex, soft bill and windpipe Young bird, either sex, less flexable cartilage

Age
Under 8 weeks Under 16 weeks

Weight Range
2 4 lbs 4 - 6 lbs

Mature duck

Ether sex, tough flesh and hard bill and windpipe

Over 6 months

4 6 lbs

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Classification and Market Forms


Goose
Has a large percentage of very fatty skin Has only dark meat Usually cooked at high temperatures to render the fat Popular at the holidays and often served with an acidic fruit-based sauce

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Classification and Market Forms


Goose Classes
Class Young goose Description Young bird with tender flesh Age Under 6 months Over 6 months Weight Range 6 10 lbs

Mature goose

Tough old bird

10 16 lbs

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Classification and Market Forms


Guinea
Domesticated descendant of a game bird Flavour is similar to pheasant Has both light and dark meat Tastes like a flavourful chicken Very lean so will benefit from barding

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Classification and Market Forms


Guinea Classes
Class Young guinea Description Domestic relative of pheasant, tender Tough old bird Age 3 6 months Weight Range - 1 lbs

Mature guinea

Up to 12 months

1 2 lbs

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Classification and Market Forms


Pigeon
Young pigeon is commercially referred to as squab Has dark meat and is well suited for broiling, sauting or roasting Squab has very little fat so it will benefit from barding Rich dark meat typically served rare Has gamy flavour that combines well with flavourful brown sauces
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Classification and Market Forms


Pigeon Classes
Class Squab Description Very young pigeon with tender meat Older pigeon with tough, dark meat Age 3 4 weeks Weight Range Under 1 lbs

Pigeon

Over 4 weeks 1 2 lbs

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Classification and Market Forms


Game Birds
Class
Quail Fr: caille

Description
Small birds, meaty breasts but legs have little meat, gamy, 2 birds for 1 main course Similar in size to cornish hen, tender when young

Weight Range
4 5 ounces

Partridge Young Fr: perdreau Mature Fr: perdrix Pheasant Fr: faisan

Around 1 lbs

Delicate light coloured meat, similar to chicken, dry if overcooked

2 2 lbs Young: under 1lbs

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Classification and Market Forms


Ratites
Ratites are a family of flightless birds with small wings and flat breastbones They include
Ostrich (native to Africa, largest bird) Emu (native to Australia, second largest bird) Rhea (native to South America)

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Classification and Market Forms


Ratites

Ostrich

Emu

Ostrich Meat Chart

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Classification and Market Forms


Ratites
Ratite meat is classified as red meat It has a cherry-red colour with a flavour similar to beef but a little sweeter, and a soft texture The meat is low in fat and calories The birds are normally slaughtered at 1013 months of age
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Classification and Market Forms


Ratites
Ratite meat is prepared like veal or wild game Because it is low in fat, care must be taken to avoid overcooking Ratites are best cooked to rare to medium

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Handling and Storage


Fresh Poultry
Fresh poultry is extremely perishable
It should arrive in vacuum packs or be packed in ice and kept in ice until used Ideally, use poultry within 24 hours of receiving
Never hold it for more than 4 days

Poultry often carries salmonella bacteria.


Wash all equipment and cutting surfaces after handling poultry to avoid contamination of other foods.
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Handling and Storage


Fresh Poultry
Store frozen poultry at 0F (18C) or lower until it is ready to thaw.
Thaw in original wrapper in refrigerator
Allow 1 to 2 days for chickens 2 to 4 days for larger birds If pressed for time, thaw in cold, running water in original wrapper

Do not refreeze thawed poultry.


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Doneness Intro to Poultry


Large Roasted Birds
Internal temperature, as tested with a thermometer, is the most accurate guide to doneness.
The thermometer should be inserted into the thickest muscle of the inner part of the thigh, away from the bone.
The recommended safe internal temperature for roast whole poultry is 185F (85C)

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Doneness
Smaller Birds
When cooked by any method, doneness is determined by:
Looseness of joints
The leg moves freely in its socket

Clear juices
Juices inside the cavity of a roasted bird are clear yellow rather than cloudy and red or pink.

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Doneness
Smaller Birds
When cooked by any method, doneness is determined by:

Flesh separating from bone


Muscles begin to pull away from bones, especially breastbone and leg bones Excessively shrunken flesh means it is overcooked and dry

Firmness to touch
Test with finger pressure as you would a steak This method is especially useful for sauted boneless chicken breasts.
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Trussing Methods
Trussing: tying the legs and wings against the body to make a compact, solid unit
Trussing has two main purposes:
1.

Even cooking
Extended legs and wings cook too quickly

2.

More attractive appearance


Especially when presented or served whole or carved in the dining room
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Trussing Methods

Place the chicken breast up, with the neck end toward you. Tuck the first joint of the wings behind the back.

Press the legs forward and down against the body.

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Trussing Methods

Pass the center of a length of twine under the hip bone just ahead of the tail.

Bring the twine up and across the ends of the legs.

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Trussing Methods

Pass the twine under the ends of the legs as shown, and pull tight.

Bring ends of the twine toward the neck end of the bird. Pull firmly on the twine while pressing on the breast portions with the thumbs as shown. 42

Trussing Methods

Tie the twine tightly.

The stub of the neck holds the twine in place, preventing it from slipping behind the back.
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Trussing Methods

The Trussed Chicken

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Cutting Up Chicken
Splitting Chicken for Broiling

Hold the chicken up by the tail. Cut through the bones to one side of the backbone, all the way to the neck.

Split the chicken open.

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Cutting Up Chicken
Splitting Chicken for Broiling

Cut off the back bone as shown.

Pull out the breastbone or keel bonethis helps the chicken lie flat and cook evenly.

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Cutting Up Chicken

For a portion size of one-half chicken, cut the chicken in half down the center of the breast. Make a split in the skin below the leg and slip the end of the leg through it as shown to hold the chicken in shape.
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Cutting Up Chicken

Portion-size Cornish game hens are left whole.


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Cutting Up Chicken
Cutting chicken into quarters and eighths, bone in

Place the chicken on the cutting Spread the chicken open and board breast up. Split the spread through the bones on chicken down the center of the one side of the backbone. breast with a heavy knife.
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Cutting Up Chicken
Cutting chicken into quarters and eighths, bone in

Cut off the backbone completely and save for stocks.

Cut through the skin between the leg and the breast.
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Cutting Up Chicken
Cutting chicken into quarters and eighths, bone in

Pull the leg back and cut off the To cut into eighths, cut the entire leg section. Repeat with drumstick and thigh apart at the other half. The chicken is the joint. now in quarters.
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Cutting Up Chicken
Cutting chicken into quarters and eighths, bone in

Cut the breast and wing quarter The chicken cut into eighths. into two equal pieces. Another Note that the first joint of method is simply to cut off the each wing has been cut off. wing.
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