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Buying a good quality fresh whole chicken

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hello all

I am a newbie and have posted a hello in the newbie section! I would very much like some help on the following:-

My girlfriend and I are cooking roast chicken for her mother and father at the weekend.

I personally believe you get what you pay for and intend splashing out for a nice bird that has been treated well and also tastes good.

We have all the usual supermarkets available in the UK but believe that as cost is not really an issue we are going to go for a bird from either Marks and Spencers or Waitrose.

Marks and Spencer seem to do 3 different chickens which are Oakham chicken, Oakham free range chickens or Oakham organic chickens


Waitrose seem to do 5 different chickens which are essential british chicken, free range british chicken, free range corn fed british chicken, free range leckford chicken, organic free range chicken

We intend purchasing quite a large bird for roasting for the 4 of us because I would assume a larger bird would give you a more juicy meat (like a large joint of beef at a carvery for example???)

The question is, If money was not really an issue for this important meal and you wanted a well treated, tasty and succulent bird for roasting, which one would you ideally go for???

Many thanks




MV Agusta Owner
post #2 of 10
I do my weekly main shop at Waitrose - but buy all my meat from my local butcher. However, my sister buys her chickens from Marks & Sparks and swears by the Oakham organic birds. I have to admit, they have a really good flavour!
post #3 of 10
[someone will be sure to correct me if I'm wrong :look:]: I have been taught to believe that larger chickens would be more suitable for stewing, rather than roasting or frying, because they are older and may be tougher. This could be especially true with the free range chickens since they are allowed freedom to move, and develop more muscle. With this in mind, rather than one large bird, how about 2 regular chickens. What's the worst that can happen...4 drumsticks instead of 2. That works for me. :lips: However, if just one nice bird is the goal, I'd opt for a small turkey, or a nice goose rather than a large chicken. [does UK have turkeys?]
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"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
 
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post #4 of 10
Since you're in the UK I would suggest posting on the www.jamieoliver.com forums. Most folks there are from the UK and would be better able to assist you on UK brands and markets. Jamie also works extensively to promote local farming and has recently devoted an entire special on the chicken industry in the UK.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #5 of 10
I buy a lot of stuff from Donald Russell. Superb quality.
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post #6 of 10
I was given a gift of a selection of their meat - top class stuff - but no better than my own butcher's stuff - and his is much cheaper than DR's! :lol:
post #7 of 10
I would imagine most butchers are cheaper than DR!! However, if I am cooking for friends I know for an absolute fact the steaks will be tender as butter. I use him as a kind of insurance policy if you like.:lips:
post #8 of 10
I've got a wealthy friend in Hertfordshire. She orders nearly ALL her meat from him... Can you IMAGINE just how much that must cost?:lol:
post #9 of 10
I'd go the organic free range. A bigger bird should have a better meat:bone ratio, but it could be at risk of being tougher than smaller ones. As was mentioned, 2 smaller birds may be preferable.

I wouldn't go the turkey - too hard to get right IMHO. But then, I'm hopeless :) and I don't like turkey anyway but love chicken - it's pretty foolproof in comparison
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #10 of 10
On bird size, I would opt for a bit on the large side. If you're paying for premium from a dealer who's serious, there will be a marked distinction between a roasting and a stewing hen, the latter being larger and a LOT cheaper. If in doubt, press down gently but firmly on the keelbone, right in the middle of the upper part of the breast. If it feels hard and is right near the surface, this is a stewing hen. In a really old hen that actually starts to stick out a bit at the surface, but these days you generally only get hens that old from a farmer who's slaughtering a layer past her prime, just as it's well-nigh impossible to get an old cock.
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