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So where's the **%$!!* Dark Meat?

I knew that our culture was circling the drain the day we were in a Southern Cooking establishment in Nashville, Tennessee, and we wanted fried chicken. "Just dark meat, please," said my wife. "I'm sorry, ma'am," the waitress replied, "but all's we got is the breasts." We were beyond flabbergasted. This wasn't Connecticut, dammit, this here's NASHVILLE. "What on earth do you do with the dark pieces?" we gasped. "Oh, we don't get those, we jes' buy the breasts. Thass what everone wants anyways." "Everyone? How about you?" "Oh, yeah...I'm sorry, but I think dark meat's jes' gross."

And then one of the local food writers, a woman whose reviews we followed every week, allowed as how she'd been grossed out - that word again - by being served some chicken salad that had (Ugh! Shudder!) dark meat mixed right in there. Of course we put the offending establishment on our list of must-tries, and wondered just what the hell had gotten into everybody.

We still wonder. Of course, Mrs. O and I both come from families whose tastes run towards flavor rather than delicacy, especially when it's fowl we're talking about. Except for the ever-popular wishbone (popular for the bone, that is), breast meat was always what was left over from any chicken dinner. Mrs. O's family unanimously regards breast meat as good only for sandwiches, or chicken salad (with LOTS of mayonnaise). The Thanksgiving turkey is always cooked with two extra whole legs.

Living in SoCal as we do now, we have lots of Latinos and Asians whose dietary customs value legs and thighs, so it's much easier to come by such wonderful items as boned thigh meat around here. Still, I wonder what the rest of the country is doing...

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  1. Well Will, seeing as how I hail from the great state of CT, I have to say that my family and I are big fans of the dark meat over white. When I buy chicken pieces, it is usually thighs and legs rather than breasts. Just thought you might want to know that not all CT residents are white-meat only.

    1. In olden days, chicken wings were a near throw away. Then Hooters caught on, and I thought there would be a need to genetically-engineer a 4 winged chicken, sort of like a biplane with feathers. Everybody was eating wings. And now you want a 4 legged turkey? Challenging times for the geneticists...:)

      2 Replies
      1. re: Veggo

        Didn't Buffalo wings come before Hooter's? Frank's had to be first, right?

        1. re: KTinNYC

          The Anchor Bar similarly claims to have been first. But Hooters with so many high volume stores initially changed the demand for the mix of chicken parts.
          I'm not sure if it's urban myth, but I read decades ago that a reason McDonalds did not get into the chicken business earlier was due in part to a lack of production capacity -in the whole country.

      2. Billy Baby, Jfood sitting in CT as another chicken thigh/leg lover.

        Jfood agrees that in order of preference for fried chix;

        1 - wings
        2 - legs
        3 - thighs
        7 - breasts

        1. HERE, HERE!
          Avid dark meat fan as well! It's all about the flavor, not about how it looksl LOVE me some thighs! I've noticed, however, that boneless skinless thighs are becoming as pricey as boneless skinless breasts here. B/S Breasts run around 2.00 /lb, and B/S thighs are up to 1.79 / lb normally. Kind of like skirt steak used to be "garbage" - now, finally folks are catching on, and moving in on my prized thigh meat.

          Keep it down! Let the others pay up for breasts - kinda like filet mignon with beef. Let THEM pay up for it while the rest of us enjoy the good stuff! SHHH!

          2 Replies
          1. re: gordeaux

            "Keep it down! Let the others pay up for breasts - kinda like filet mignon with beef. Let THEM pay up for it while the rest of us enjoy the good stuff! SHHH!"

            Smart man.... that is my stand as well. If I can get 4 free range drumsticks for $1.59 at Trader Joe's then I raise a copa of Corzo Blanco to the dumbasses that bid up the breasts! O yeah... when I go to Whole Foods and leave with a $4 package of perfectly purple-pink oxtails... I almost feel like I need to speed away from the parking lot before the dumb foodies realize their stupidty and try to mob me for them!

            Viva Pottery Barn! Viva the Escalade! Vivan los Pen D...s!

            1. re: gordeaux

              gordeaux, you are so spot on were- thighs are poultry's best.

            2. Ye gads, Willie. When the Colombia-US trade act was being debated, the Colombian poultry lobby outraged me by posting full page ads in the newspaper saying that Americans only eat breast meat and that all the rest--supposedly otherwise dumped by Americans--would be dumped in Colombia. Maybe I shoudn't have been quite so enraged!