Chicken: White vs Dark and More

June 14, 2011

What you need to know about chicken at a time when food prices continue to rise

Chicken is an American staple: for the most part American’s prefer white meat chicken breast over dark meat, which is actually preferred in most countries around the world. According to the National Chicken Council’s latest data Americans consumed almost 84 pounds of chicken per person in 2010! As food prices continue to rise, including chicken, SupermarketGuru has some tips on how you can continue to include chicken and even add dark meat to your diet while watching your wallet.

First let’s discuss the dark versus white meat- because more drumsticks may be finding their way to American dinner tables, according to an article in MSNBC. Why? Because a slowdown in exports has kept more dark meat in our stores, when previously the dark meat has largely been exported. According to the article, a bone-in “drumstick and thigh combined” is about 50 cents a pound wholesale, versus one dollar plus for boneless chicken breast. One of the top chicken producers in the US is even planning a new product line featuring a variety of dark meat items. So what’s the difference? Nutritionally speaking white meat contains less fat and calories, and has more protein, but dark meat contains slightly more iron, and zinc. What about taste? ?There's the age old debate: White or dark meat? The truth is because the white meat contains less calories and fat, dark meat is a bit tastier- but of course this is personal preference. 

Buying dark meat is a good idea for watching your pocketbook, and the price discrepancy between white and dark meat may continue to widen as domestic supplies increase. If you do choose dark meat, pair a smaller portion with more veggies and whole grains to balance the nutrition of your plate. 

More money saving chicken tips:
There are three designations of birds: Fresh, frozen and hard-chilled. Fresh has been stored at 26 degrees or above, hard-chilled at 0 to 26 degrees and frozen at 0 degrees or below. There is no difference from a nutritional, taste or cooking standpoint, but frozen will be the least expensive and take the most time to thaw. Typically 24 hours per five pounds in the refrigerator (or 30 minutes per pound under cold running water).

What about pre-marinated chicken? Pre-marinated chicken typically cost more than marinating the meat yourself, and may be loaded or “plumped” with sodium or sugars, so read the labels carefully!
When buying prepackaged pieces or breasts, always look under the meat to see the "bladder," which is an absorbent sheet that collects any excess moisture that naturally seeps out of the meat. Keep in mind that, typically, the longer the meat has sat in the case, the more moisture. Press down on the meat to see just how much moisture there is in the package, and choose one that has little or no seepage.

When you get ready to cook ?Always cook poultry with the skin on. A thin membrane between the skin and the meat holds in the moisture, keeping the meat juicy and tasty, and actually keeps the fat out of the meat. Remove the skin after cooking.

For more visit the National Chicken Council