Sunday, November 27, 2011


Milady sent me for a chicken last night, a whole fryer, so that she could boil it for stock and made dumplings. I always approve of chicken and dumplings, so I went to the store.

When I got out of the Army in 1979, my first job was working in a plant that processed chickens. We slaughtered them by the truck load and my bosses taught me that a proper whole fryer weighs 3.5-4.0 pounds. They insisted that the growers produced a chicken that, when processed, would weigh 3.5 lbs.

Last night, digging through a pile of what Wal-Mart calls fryers, I was stunned to find that the smallest bird there was over five pounds. They had another pile of hens down the aisle, and I guess those were over 8 lbs. Chickens have gotten bigger in the 30 years since I was in the business. Another thing I noticed this morning as we were de-boning the boiled chicken is the absence of dark meat. That bird was white meat from his drumstick to his wishbone. Chickens are changing, and not for the better.

In my mind, the perfect frying chicken weighs about 3.5 lbs and has been allowed to run around, so that the leg and thigh have dark meat. That's not the chicken that the growers are producing these days.


Common Sense Gresham Project said...

Aha! I thought it was just me who felt that the whole idea of dark-meated chickens was going away.


MSgt B said...

I was just commenting to Mrs B about the same thing on our Thanksgiving turkey.
Dark meat used to be darker, I swear.

Old NFO said...

Concur, I'm glad I'm not going nuts over here either...

Gerry N. said...

Not only do the commercially grown and processed birds weigh more, the meat seems much less flavorful and has a softer, mushier texture than I remember from when I was a sprog. G-d knows how I loved my mom's fried chicke, chicken soup and chicken & dumplings. I'm beginning to think it might be a good idea to find a source of free running, bug eating, gravel pecking birds even if I have to deal with hippies and do the slaughtering and butchering my own self. I clean game birds, why not chickens and the odd turkey. Or an even turkey for that matter.

Windy Wilson said...

It used to be that anything over 4 lbs was a stewing hen. I wonder if it isn't just better breeding and diet, but the various hormones and antibiotics that cause them to grow bigger and blander.
I had a friend that raised chickens mostly for eggs but now and then one found its way into the stewpot. I need to arrange that situation for myself, I think the chickens would be healthier to eat.

If the fryers are over 5 lbs and the stewing hens are 8 lbs, how big are the capons?