I'm getting ahead of my story. I probably told you about Will Milowski, out on Sound Road on Long Island, who raises and sells the best tasting chickens I ever ate. He does them on a gas rotisserie to order if you like.
"Will, how do you get these chickens tasting so good?" I asked.
"I use a little salt," he answered.
"Oh," he said, "you don't understand. You want a chicken to taste good, it's got to taste good BEFORE you cook it."
Will's chickens were free range chickens, fresh killed, and he feeds them a very rich mix that gives them great flavor. What makes a chicken taste good is the fat to water ratio in the flesh, and it costs less and is easy to load the flesh with water before slaughter.
I have noticed that my favorite brand of chicken is less fat than it used to be. This is due no doubt to the mistaken rage for low fat food, but if you want great tasting chickens you can't have it both ways. If you want to have good quality chickens, look for USDA Grade A birds, or choose a brand of chicken that has proven itself to you on the plate.
For many years, my father told me that kosher poultry tasted best. I think I know why. Kosher poultry is salted and soaked as part of the ritual process before it is cooked, I find that an hour or two in a 5 % brine improves the flavor of poultry a lot, longer for larger birds. I add a dash of vinegar to the water as well. Perhaps the most famous fried chicken in the country has always been soaked overnight in an acidulated brine with seasonings... The flesh picks up both flavor and water.
© 1997, Steve K. Holzinger. All rights reserved.
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