Q. What are different types of chicken, and how are they classified?
A. Chickens are classified by age and weight. Young chickens are tender and cook quickly; older chickens need slow, moist cooking to make them tender.
Cooking times will vary depending on the method you use and also the part and size of the chicken you're cooking. Take a look at these weights and cooking methods for great poultry cooking:
- Broiler-fryers: Young chickens (7 to 10 weeks old) weighing from 1-1/2 to 3-1/2 pounds. Best broiled, fried, or roasted.
- Roasters: Slightly older chickens (16 weeks old) weighing from 4 to 6 pounds. Perfect for roasting and rotisserie cooking.
- Capons: Young, castrated roosters weighing from 5 to 7 pounds. These richly flavored birds are meatier and have a higher fat content than roasters.
- Stewing hens: Adult chickens (1 to 1-1/2 years old) weighing from 4-1/2to 7 pounds. Though their meat is tougher and stringier, it is highly flavorful, so they are excellent for soups, stock, or stews.
- Chicken parts: Cut-up chickens -- usually broiler-fryers -- are available to suit almost any recipe. Choose halves or quarters, or pick just the parts you want, from breasts, thighs, wings, and drumsticks to legs (thighs with drumsticks attached).
- Boneless, skinless pieces: These easy options -- a favorite choice for many cooks today -- offer convenience and quicker cooking times. Boneless, skinless breasts and thighs are readily available. Other selections include cutlets (sometimes called supremes) and tenders.
Q. How do I know how much chicken to buy?
A. To make sure you buy enough chicken to meet your family's needs, follow this guide:
- One cut up broiler-fryer (2 to 3 pounds) yields 3 to 5 servings.
- One whole roaster (3 to 6 pounds) serves 4 to 8 people.
- One whole chicken breast or two breast halves (about 12 ounces) yields 2 servings.
- One pound of thighs or drumsticks serves 2 people.
Have a bag of chicken breasts that's been lurking in your freezer? See the next page for tips on how to use it.