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Jan 16, 2008 09:50 AM

Has anybody cooked with a Pollo Rosso chicken?

Hi. I picked up a Pollo Rosso chicken at Whole Foods on Saturday, dry-brined it and roasted it last night. It is a bit more expensive than their other chicken offerings (at about $4.50/lb), but it is an organic Italian heritage chicken.

Very different than the other chicken offered at Whole Foods -- MUCH more flavorful, leaner, stringier (not necessarily a bad thing). The proportions of this chicken also differ than other ones -- smaller breast, leaner longer legs -- think of runway model. I think this is how chicken is meant to taste. It kind of reminds me of the chickens I sometimes get at the Union Square Farmers Market.

I know Pollo Rosso has been more of a recent thing at Whole Foods (at least in NY). I hope they sell well and continue to be readily available.

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  1. They were featuring them at my local Whole Foods on Wednesday night and I had a taste - I agree: quite flavorful.

    1. Thanks for the tip. This is actually very exciting for me- my family seems to have a continuous conversation ongoing for years about how poultry meats taste different (better) in Europe. I plan to go and pick one up asap.

      1. A sexy long lean European bird indeed. Like a Poulet de Bresse. Its grown using the "Label Rouge" method for the famous French bird. And like those in Europe, this baby has _flavor_ and bite. Its not a mealy white-meat-dominated bird grown for the supermarket isle. (thus, the white meat is less, but tastier).

        I cooked one low and slow (as they advise), braising a whole bird in a variation on a Molly Steven's recipe. Onions, majoram and two blood orange quarters into the cavity; then into a Staub cast iron pot with a 1/4 inch mixture of chicken broth and the rest of the blood orange squeezed. Cooked for 40 minutes covered in a 325 oven. Then open, baste and let roast the remaining 25 minutes or so. Delicioso.

        I hope everyone checks these birds out. We need more birds like this in the US; the Euro is too expensive for me to fly there to get real chicken flavor.

        2 Replies
        1. re: bengoshi

          Thanks for the feedback. I am still waiting for the right evening to make one- I like your recipe, too!

          1. re: vvvindaloo

            I roasted a couple of these babies the other night: rubbed with butter, well salted and peppered, they came out great. They are not as fat and meaty as the ones we are used to seeing at the market, but they were definitely tasty. I would say that the textural difference was even more significant than the difference in flavor. The meat was tender, silky, smooth. That's the best way to describe it, and my dining companions agreed. The only (minor) complaint I have is that they both had small feathers still attached in various crevices, as well as a good number of still-embedded feathers that I had to dig out of the skin.

        2. I sometimes buy the Bell & Evans chickens @ WF. Is this so much superior? The price differential is about 250% so I would want my socks knocked off. Do you cook them differently than the traditional roasted chicken (425 for 15-20 min/lb)?

          4 Replies
          1. re: Diane in Bexley

            If you go to the Pollo Rosso website, its suggested they be cooked lower and slower. I think thats a good idea and thats why I went with a low braise, then roast, rather than an all out roast.

            Superior? Well, its different. I really like Bell & Evans. These are really Euro birds. If you have ever had a chicken in Europe they have real flavor; Poulet de Bresse being the king of the birds. You can smell the difference when you fry one for a fricassee (a good way to use these)

            Its a bit "gamier" than a Bell & Evans chicken -- in a good way. This is how chicken tasted _before_ all the flavor was bred out of them. Also, beware the breast meat is smaller - another difference from the silicon boob jobs we are used to.
            And as to the comment about the feather remnants, thats another return to a natural, Euro-style bird. I smiled when I saw a few here and there....

            1. re: bengoshi

              Did one last night, in an old-fashioned "smothered chicken" style. Cut it into pieces, coat with seasoned flour, brown in a saute pan, then put in a dutch oven. Saute a pile of sliced onions, celery and carrots in the same pan, add to the chicken, add good chicken stock, cover and bake for a couple of hours. Served over rice it was falling off the bone tender and absolutely delicious!

              On the other hand, at $20 for one four-pound chicken this is not going to be an every night dish.

              1. re: bengoshi

                Bengoshi's got it right. Pollo Rosso is definitely different, not better. Reminds me of the chickens I had in France.

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  I have also had the Pollo Rosso and found it to be excellent. Very moist and with great flavor. I find the Bell and Evand chickens at Whole Foods to be a bit dry. There is another chicken at Whole Foods from FreeBird. I found the FreeBird chicken to be very moist and with great flavor. I think Whole Foods sells the FreeBirds for a bit less money than the Bell and Evans. Definately worth a look.