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Poultry is a term given to the chickens, farm-reared ducks, turkeys and geese. All these domestic fowls are collectively known as ‘poultry’ in culinary world. These birds are factory farmed and kept in crowded conditions. A term ‘free range’ is associated with them that mean they have access to the outer area where they can run and fed on their food. Poultry is also raised for their eggs, which is also a very popular culinary item. Poultry is a very common ingredient in non-vegetarian dishes and variety of poultry dishes such as chicken sandwich, roasted duck and stuffed turkey are very commonly cooked in almost all households.

History of Poultry

The breeding of poultry has started 3000 years ago in China. Chinese poultry included pigeons and ducks but geese were the most popular. Chicken was introduced to Americans by Europeans whereas Americans introduced turkey to Europeans. The complete poultry industry has begun in 19th century when Europeans and Americans started breeding poultry for their meat and eggs.

Culinary Use of Poultry

The importance of poultry in cooking is well-known across the world. It has been the main source of protein in non-vegetarian diet since medieval times. Legs and breast are the meatiest parts of the birds hence these are widely used in poultry recipes. Minced poultry meat is also equally popular for stuffed and baked dishes. Poultry is also an integral part in various salads and sandwiches. Starters, stews, soups, side dishes as well as main dishes include poultry as a main ingredient. The trend of serving whole bird in traditional and festive meals is very common and old. Thanksgiving and Christmas meals are incomplete without turkey dishes. Stuffed whole bird is a delicacy in gourmet dinners. Poultry is also popular for producing egg, which has varied culinary uses of its own.

Popular Poultry Recipes

• Grilled balsamic chicken – It’s a popular grilled chicken dish made with balsamic vinegar dressing.

• Cantonese roast duck – It’s a Chinese poultry recipe made while roasting it. The main feature of this dish is the reddish-brown roasted skin of duck.

• Christmas turkey – It’s a stuffed turkey dish especially made for Christmas meal.

• Kotlety Tsiplenokovo Po-Kievski – It’s a popular European chicken dish named after the city in which it is originated.

Cuisines Commonly Making Poultry Recipes

Poultry is such an ingredient that is equally popular in almost all world cuisines. Poultry dishes are cooked with variations in all cuisines. American and European cuisines include grilled, baked and roasted poultry recipes where as stir-fried poultry dishes are quiet popular in Chinese and Japanese cuisines. It is observed that South East Asian cuisine makes full use of poultry. Almost all parts of bird are used in South East Asian cuisine. Indian, Pakistani and Middle Eastern cuisines are famous for curry poultry recipes. Rich and thick gravy dishes are a common feature in these cuisines that gives nice flavor to poultry. Boiled and stewed poultry recipes are also famous in Italian and French cuisines.

Preferred Methods for Making Poultry Dishes

There are several methods that can be used to make most out of poultry. Poultry is a versatile ingredient that cab be cooked with either of below mentioned methods:

• Grilled – Poultry birds are very easy to cook. Grilling allows the poultry to get cooked very fast and also let the bird stay moist and juicy from inside. • Baked – It’s a dry heat method that makes poultry dishes to cook very easily.

• Roasted – It is one of the most popular methods of making poultry dishes. Bird is marinated before roasting in order to infuse flavors inside it.

• Boiled – Chunks and shredded meat is added to soup and stew dishes and boiled to take out juice of the meat. Boiled poultry meat is often added to salads and sandwich filling.

• Stir-fried – Poultry meat is stir-fried with spices and sauces.

• Deep-fried – Poultry dishes served as snacks are often battered and deep-fried.

Nutritive Value of Poultry

Poultry is the most nutritional meat among all the meats. It is high in protein and comes under the category of lean meat. Poultry is also rich in vitamins and minerals. Most of the fat is concentrated under the skin of the birds so it is recommended to eat poultry meat without skin. The nutritional value of poultry depends upon the method of cooking poultry dishes. Deep fried poultry dishes are not considered healthy as it contains high amount of trans fats, though steamed, grilled and baked poultry dishes are highly nutritious.

Consumption Criteria of Poultry

Among all the birds, chicken is the most common carrier of salmonella bacteria. Salmonella is the main cause of food poisoning from poultry dishes. This bacteria survives freezing but is destroyed through cooking. Therefore, care should be taken while consuming poultry dishes.

Buying and Storing of Poultry

Poultry should be purchased with extra care and if not treated well, the ingredient may prove hazardous for health. Here are some tips that should be kept in mind while buying poultry:

• Bird should not have any fowl odor.

• Flesh of the poultry should be fresh and pinkish in color.

• The skin or surface should not look slick.

• If buying packaged poultry then always check the ‘sell by date’.

• Always buy fresh cut birds.

Storing Tips for Chicken:

• Always store poultry meat in the coolest part of refrigerator.

• It is always recommended to use poultry as soon as purchased.

• Poultry meat should be freeze if not to be used for a longer time.

• Cooked poultry dishes can also be refrigerated for three days.

• Stuffed birds should be refrigerated while removing the stuffing in another container.

• Frozen poultry meat should be thawed in cold water or in microwave. Never thaw it in room temperature.

Types of Poultry

• Chicken – It is one of the most commonly used poultry in cooking. It contains proteins, minerals, vitamins, iron and Zinc.

• Turkey – It is en excellent source of Vitamin B, potassium and phosphorous.

• Duck – Duck contains three times as much iron as chicken. It is also a good source of potassium and zinc.

• Goose – It contains good amount of riboflavin and vitamin B.

Poultry: Trivia

• Canada doesn’t allow any hormones implantation in poultry. This practice is illegal here.

• In every 23-24 hours, a hen lays an egg.