Good Cooking Chicken in Cleveland
I am on a quest to find the freshest and best tasting chicken for myself to cook. I often buy from the Corn-Fed Chicken place in West Side market... but I tried roasting a whole chicken from them... and found little flavour in the meat. Does anybody have any places for me to try?
Many of the most respected restaurants in the area use Tea Hills Poultry. Parker's, Flying Fig, Lola and South Market Bistro. You couldn't find any restaurants more conscious of the purity of their ingredients than these. Was the wonderful squab that I had at Lola a Tea Hills product?
Tea Hills is an Ohio product and it's available at the North Union Farmers Market. I normally get to the farmers market too late and only get leftovers but it appears as though they'll have an impressive selection of chicken breeds to choose from over the next several weeks. I would suggest calling ahead and reserving. See their website:
Personally, I've had better luck with Gerber's. Of course, I've cooked about a half dozen chickens in the past five years and neither my kitchen nor my technique are suited for controlled experimentation. Gerber's is available at Heinen's and I suspect it's widely available. It's also an Ohio product.
The other popular brand of chicken that I've noticed on menus is Bell & Evans. I'm not sure that I've ever eaten it and I've never cooked it. It's available at Heinen's and I suspect it's also widely available at gourmet or natural grocery stores. It's from Eastern Pennsylvania.
I've heard consistently high praise for the chicken from Mister Brisket. I don't know where it's from. It's kosher. I'm not clear about exactly what that means but I think it's fair to say that it's quasi-pre-brined. I'm certain that salt is involved somehow. Mister Brisket is very knowledgeable and forthcoming. I'm sure he can explain it. See their website:
I have had chickens from several places the past few years, locally and in greater Detroit. I never buy chicken from the store so I can't speak to the ones that Stuart mentioned.
Of everything that I've had the place that I discovered recently is the best to me. The name of the place is Plum Creek Farm and Apiary. They are located in Valley City and also sell at the Crocker Park market on Saturdays. Their phone number is 330.483.0222. I like the amount of meat that I get on 5-6 pound bird. The meat is a fabulous texture and the taste is nicer than any others I've had. Also, after roasting their chicken, I make stock from the carcass and from their birds I get the best stock I've ever made.
I have only had their birds frozen.
In the WSM, you may want to try Kaufmans or even DH whittiker (sp) for a comparison. I also find the small, whole fryers to be excellent for roasting. You may find the corn fed ones work great. the sales volume is higher with the fryers so they are often fresher. I would also check the "Zuni Chicken" roasting method that can be found on this site in home cooking. it involves dry brining and the results are amazing. Adjust the seasoning and cooking time to match the size of the chicken. I do not know about the gerber product. if it is amazing I am sure it is worth the effort to locate for a special dinner, but if you roast chicken fairly often like myself, you work on making the WSM ones terrific.
I am also a big fan of the Tea Hills chicken, however, I have lately opted to sleep in and be leisurely on Saturday a.m. instead of dragging myself over to the Farmer's Market to purchase them. Gerber's chicken is serviceable in a pinch, but I've been having tastier luck with Heinen's (the local grocery chain) own cryo-vacd organic chickens, especially if I pre-salt the birds a day ahead before using.