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Jun 24, 2007 06:44 PM

Pollo & gallina?

They both mean chicken in Spanish?

Is it a country-specific term or the type of bird.

I see the word 'hen' sometimes as the English translation of gallina. Is gallina an older stewing hen?

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  1. I'm not completely sure about this, but the female gallina not a layer provides most of the meat in our grocery stores. A layer (ponedora) is also eaten after stopping laying--that meat is known to be tough and flavorful. A pollo is a male, preferred by most for traditional cooking because of its fuller flavor. On the other hand, if you're at the supermarket (here in Colombia) and want the the meat from a gallina produced for meat, you ask for carne de pollo.

    1. It's the type of bird, classification by the age of bird. Gallina is an older bird, yes, used mostly for stock and broth preparation, not for cooking its meat, not even in a stew. Pollo is a younger bird.

      1. In some Latin American countries the difference between pollo and gallina meat is much more marked, as is the case in Peru with aji de gallina and pollo chifa. Pollo meaning a younger, whiter meat, and gallina a yellower, fattier, and older meat.

        But in Mexico gallina only means the live animal and pollo de dead one =) or cooked one.

        1. Does anyone know the rules for El Salvador?

          There's this local Latino church that has a little restaurant on the side of the building on Sunday. They've been serving pupusas and fried fish. I'm guessing from the pupusas they are Salvadorean ... and there are a few Salvadorean businesses in that area.

          Anyway, this Sunday they expanded the menu to include ... hmmm ... was that sopa de gallina or caldo de gallina? I'm going to have to check this out next Sunday, if possible.

          Now i'm also intrigued by someone who emailed me that the Salvadorean market was selling different chickens ...

          "I've never bought a chicken locally like this particular bird.
          The first thing I noticed was exceptionally large and long pin
          feathers on the wings. Sure we've all had a few pin feathers, let
          them cook. No, these were too large to go unremoved. I had to
          whip out my needle nosed pliers for this job. I've never done
          this for locally purchased birds. No matter they were Foster
          Farms, Zacky, Rocky or any Petaluma bird.

          I took a closer look. The meat underneath the skin of the legs is
          quite dark. The fat placement around the bird is even and yet
          nearly nonexistent. Yeah, it's a large one, close to 5 pounds or
          so, I didn't axe.

          These are NOT standard local commodity birds"

          9 Replies
          1. re: rworange

            A few weeks ago I bought a 6lb roasting bird from Trader Joes. I brined it, and then slow roasted it in the smoker. I didn't look at the meat before cooking.

            Anyways, I would say a 'pollo' is likely to be fryer, while a 'gallina' is a larger, older bird, more suitable for stewing or soup. Many traditional chicken dishes in Latin America call for cooking the bird in water till tender, then making a flavored sauce with the broth (such as a mole), and serving the cut up meat with the sauce.

            Oh, and 'gallina' is female, a hen. 'Gallo' is the rooster (as in pico de gallo). 'Pollo' could be either, and a chick is a little pollo, 'pollito'.


            1. re: rworange

              This sounds like a Gallina Vieja, an Old Hen. This is the chicken that is used in the Caribbean for homey soup stock, though not gelatinous stock. The older the bird, the darker the dark meat, and the harder the bones, hence the stock not being thick. The only way to break down this bird without violence is to cook it in a pressure cooker -- for 45 minutes after you turn down the heat. Add your standard other things - carrot, onion, garlic, bay leaf, etc. AND CHICKEN FEET FOR THICKENING AND FOR THAT GORGEOUS WIERD TASTE, or ginger, garlic, scallion for Chinese broth. Happy cooking. The cooked skin has a wonderful elastic mouthfeel I just had this soup for lunch with Thai seasonings, Chinese broccoli and noodles. Fab.

              1. re: inwooddan

                I forgot about this post. While doing in a chicken and a gallina for Christmas tamales, I found out the difference. It didn't have to do with age. They were both about the same age.

                In Guatemala, it seems it is a special breed of chicken which has a bald spot on its neck. The white bird in the photo is a gallina, the brown is a regular pollo

                1. re: rworange

                  rworange I would believe its more that they are raised for a different type of meat and that in your area the bald spot is common. In Brazil at high level you have "frango" (frango industrial, frango da granja, occasionally galinha comercial), and "frango caipira" or "galinha (caipira or da ro├ža)" which are used to mean the same thing." Although most "frango" is sold frozen and comes from large "granjas," you can buy from small producers at farmers markets and buy "frango abatido (na hora)" which is where you buy fresh killed chicken (an abatedouro is a slaughterhouse so these establishmens need to be licensed for that). "frango" without any specification lays many more eggs and grows much more quickly than "frango caipira" which leads to the difference in the meat even when raised free. "frango caipira" can have bald spots on the neck, it can be black, white, red. It can also be from a specific race or mixed. But they are raised for meat, not necessarily eggs (they don't lay many), and in the US most hens tend to be old or other layers which didn't go so far.

                  Galo is sold industrialized and well, they are generally old and tough. BTW, "Galinha d'Angola" is completely different, its a guinea fowl.

                  You mentioned El Salvador and soup several years ago, what would be used is a "gallina india" which at least in Salvadoran communities in the US is not as specific as the name implies but that is likely what you bought and its probably a good sign that it had a few feathers (eg raised for the meat and not just killed because it wasn't productive). But I think the term there it could include free range chicken too. Here in Brazil I think that name referred to wild chickens (from shipwrecks and so on), but "galo indio" is a bird which prone to fight and now a days the name is most associated with cockfighting rings (as you don't want cocks killing off others in your backyard), although I guess there are some crosses which are productive reproducers and for meat.

                  I didn't get a chance to reply to your posts, but enjoyed reading about how much duck you have been fed in Guatemala. In general here ducks are considered inexpensive in light of hens. I think the main reasons is simply they are better foragers, will eat more left overs, and once they get to a certain size they are less prone to attacks from large birds or nearby dogs. You can raise them with a bit less infrastructure. Not certain they are really less expensive when ready for slaughter (and any chicks are inexpensive), but you can buy the chicks inexpensively and they aren't the premium they are in the US.

                  1. re: itaunas

                    Wow, really interesting info, especially about the ducks.

                    Hopefully before I leave, I'll get down to a few other countries in Central America and good to know how chickens may be called different things.

                    The gallinas in Guatemala are a different chicken, not just missing some feathers on the neck. If you look at the photo, there is no red comb or wattles (?) like the other chicken. That look is consistant for these chickens. They come in various colors, usually white or brown.

                    An interesting side, I read in El Salvador that the dish "gallo in chicha" ... roooster in fremented pineapple juice ... is a dish traditionally served on Mondays. The loosers of the weekend cock fights are lunch the next day.

                    1. re: rworange

                      In Spain there some special torro dishes made from the losers of bullfights.

                      1. re: rworange

                        I agree a gallina/galinha is completely different genetically from what is a chicken, I am just saying its not necessarily a pure race even with similar appearance. In Brazil there is more variety, but its also a larger country (there also is a _lot_ of regional variety in preparation which it didn't sound like there was as much in Guatemala). There are plenty of white frangos (pollos) here. And there are specific breeds/blood lines, but that would be most common with laying hens. But in general a common frango would be something which was bred to mature more rapidly, with correspondingly more tender/lighter meat and incidentally would reproduce more rapidly. The frango caipira is simply raised for a different type of meat and cooking application, and its not commonly industrialized because its not as economical but on the farm its a survivor. In Brazil these days canary rings seem more common (and are also illegal) than cock fights, but I am sure there are plenty of corner bars in remote areas which serve cock stew twice a week.

                        1. re: itaunas

                          Speaking of color, there are two main types of chickens - blanco and amarillo (white and yellow). By that I mean the color of the meat and not the feathers.

                          The yellow chicken is more prized being fed a special diet. They usually look plump and beautiful next to the pale, scrawny white chickens.

                          Which gets into pollo criolla, or house-raised, chicken. Even an organic, free-range chicken is looked down in terms of quality. The eggs from the criolla chickens are said to be superior as well.

                          Part of the reason for going on was I just learned there is a turkey equivalent of criolla chickens called chunto (house-raised). The usual term for turkey, unlike Mexico, isn'at pavo but chompipe.

                          Interesting article which I ran through a translator that mentions a well known dish call kak'ik that uses chunto.

                          Man, I never would have guessed in 2007 when I posted this inquiry that not only would I try a gallina, but have pollos and gallinas running around in my backyard.

                          1. re: rworange

                            Maybe we should post our chicken, duck, and geese pictures all over this thread. :-)

                            I agree and always enjoy comparing names/ingredients -- when you actually go to a culture as opposed to observe in a far location there are a lot more distinctions. Along similar lines I make a point of pointing out to many surprised hounds that 'corn fed beef' is considered a luxury here. Truth the real fancy beef would be open range, possibly with some finishing (dry aged imported argentinean beef), but there are lot of people who look down on your neighborhood butcher who breaks down sides of beef. (And yes, there are incidences of "clandestine" cows being sold, as there are cows which just don't have enough pasture so when the herd gets to a certain size the farmer sells a couple to the local market w/o finishing the beef.) So people prefer to get shrink wrapped beef from a frigorific at the supermarket (one advantage is these can have a bit of wet aging), but the supermarkets buy these with an eye to a promotion and so no matter where you buy it you have to pay attention to selecting the meat to get something good.

              2. Chiming in... in "Mexican" it mostly refers to the age of the bird:

                Pollito : Fryer
                Pollo: Roaster
                Gallina : Soup Hen
                Gallo : Rarely Good Eats

                Gallinita : Cornish Game Hen
                Codorniz: Quail

                With regards to pollo vs polla... the masculine form is used most often even when its referring to a female. The real difference comes with hen... where gender is important as roosters are rarely tasty.

                One last thing... on the cultural front there is a popular saying that goes... Gallina vieja hace buen caldo or Old hen makes for good stew.... and yes it is double entendre.