Americans love their chicken, but why do breasts get all the love? According to Slate, “[Americans] eat chicken almost 10 times a month on average (2007) but on less than two of those occasions do we choose chicken legs, thighs, or drumsticks.” Even though Americans love eating poultry, many pass over unfamiliar cuts because of preconceived notions of health factors and flavor.
Many tend to prefer chicken breasts since we assume they are healthier but the nutritional difference is actually fairly slim between the white and dark meat. The myth that white meat is significantly more healthful than dark chicken meat is credited to the poultry industry marking the slight disparity in calories and fat content between dark and white chicken meat to retail a “premium” poultry product that could be sold at a higher price. Besides being more economical, dark meat is also moist, flavorful, and nutritious — containing higher levels of vitamins and minerals that help boost your body’s immune system.
Taking it a step further, pasture-raised chicken yields a healthier bird and in turn, more nutritious meat. Pastured chicken has up to 21% less total fat, 30% less saturated fat, and 28% fewer calories than factory-farmed chickens (Source). If you’re really looking for healthier meat, opting for high-quality chicken is the way to go. Roasted, grilled, pan-fried or barbecued – chicken is not only delicious and packed with lean protein, it is also a great source of B vitamins. Exploring alternative cuts will only boost flavors on your plate and expand your food’s nutrient density, regardless of which cut you buy.
Read on for more about the different cuts of chicken and shop Pasture-Raised Poultry:
WHOLE CHICKEN: The whole bird
A whole bird is perfect for roasting whole for optimal flavor and broken down into individual pieces for multiple servings. Roast with fragrant herbs, whole lemons, or roasted with a zesty spice rub. Check out this guide for breaking down a whole chicken into serving pieces.
LEG QUARTERS: A leg includes the thigh and drumstick still joined together. It’s an economical cut with a considerable amount of flavor. Leg quarters are versatile and can be cooked whole, or the thigh and drumstick can be separated and cooked as desired. When left whole, the leg quarters are delicious when roasted or grilled.
DRUMSTICK: A drumstick is the shin of the chicken. Cooked similar to thighs, drumsticks are often roasted or grilled.
WHOLE WING: Wings are nature’s perfect party food. Chicken wings are best when glazed and baked in the oven, fried, or grilled.
BREAST (Bone-in or Boneless): The chest meat of the bird
Boneless, skinless chicken breast is an ultra-lean cut with little fat and a very mild flavor, though it can be prone to dryness if overcooked. Breasts can also be split lengthwise and cook more quickly as cutlets. Bone-in or Split chicken breast is lean with a little extra flavor from the bone.
THIGH (Bone-in or Boneless): Thigh is the top part of the leg above the drumstick
Boneless chicken thighs are slightly fatter and a lot more flavorful than lean chicken breasts. Boneless chicken thighs are faster-cooking than bone-in, and can be baked in the oven, or cooked on the stovetop or grill. The crispy skin also works as a canvas for glazes and sauces to cling to. If you aren’t into chicken skin, then just bake the thighs with the skin on for a self-basting result and strip it off when cooking is complete for all of the moisture with less of the fat.
Article and Research by Hannah Kwan