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Oct 22, 2008 03:28 PM

Wings Live Poultry: "Brown Chicken" ?

Hi Chowhounds!

While perusing the Chinatown chicken scene this afternoon, I purchased a "brown chicken" from Wings with the intention of simmering it up Hainanise style. Weighing in at 4 pounds, it's about to find its way into my stockpot.

Meanwhile, I have no idea what a brown chicken is, and whether it's suitable for simmering vs. roasting vs. frying.

Can anybody tell me more about the "Brown Chicken" offering from Wings? For instance, does it correspond to any of the breeds listed at ?

Or does it correspond to anything sold at "Live Poultry Fresh Killed" in Cambridge?

Thanks for the input!

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  1. I tried to find the old post but wasn't able to. I bought a fresh killed brown chicken at Wings and tried roasting afew years ago. It was tough and not very good.

    I was told by someone here that the violent method of killing the bird caused the bird to "firm up."

    Simmering was the recommended method by people that know more about chicken than I do..which isn't hard..:)

    6 Replies
    1. re: 9lives

      I remember you posting on that. Here's the link:

      Wings Fresh Chicken/ Chinatown

      1. re: 9lives

        9lives: Thanks for the reply -- looks like you got a "black chicken," but in any case, I'm sorry to report the brown chicken was also quite tough, despite a long gentle simmer.

        1. re: sopped_up_sauce

          Can't say I've ever bought a fresh killed chicken here in the U.S. but my gut is if you braise or stew it long enough it will soften up. Heck a shoe will soften up if you cook it long enough.

          1. re: StriperGuy

            A stewing fowl is never going to have the same texture as a younger chicken. And while the killing method and time does make a difference, I am guessing in these cases that you got hard fowl. That said it makes an amazing broth and I quasi-regularly buy hard fowl from Mayflower and Demoula's (occasionally someone here buys this by accident and is in for a surprise). If you are going to make it for an evening meal , a pressure cooker definitely would help. I have also used it in a Bollito Misto to good effect. It would have to be cooked in stages, but I have wanted to use it for arroz com pollo. In Brazilian cooking its generally stewed and then a special type of corn flour is added to the broth to make a polenta. With a fresh killed bird from Wing's you can make frango ao molho pardo which uses the blood. For central and south american recipes or to get a stewing fowl in Latin american markets I believe its also called gallina india, but there is at least one other name which I am spacing right now.

            1. re: itaunas

              Huh, never hear the term "hard fowl" I do know the term fowl for what was presumable a laying hen that was then slaughtered, and they are notoriously tough. I use a pressure cooker myself and I gotta think 40 min to an hour in a pressure cooker will soften up any chicken.

        2. re: 9lives

          The intense flavor and firm texture of a fresh killed chicken, cooked within hours of death and while still in rigor mortis, is highly prized by the Chinese.

        3. I think I remember that these are for a special broth, meat not worth eating...

          1 Reply
          1. re: gardgen

            A black "silky" chicken is only for making soup. But a silky is much smaller and won't weigh 4 pounds.

          2. Well, I've tried it again, with no luck: the brown chicken simply isn't good eating, either simmered or roasted.

            Can anybody tell me what to ask for (or what to look for) at these live poultry places if I want something that will be tender when roasted? My English-language questioning of the clerk only goes so far. (i.e. not very.)

            Thanks again!

            2 Replies
            1. re: sopped_up_sauce

              Again, a freshly killed chicken is not tender. The firm bite of the flesh is the prized texture that shows how fresh it is and the flavor is much more intense. The sinews are a mark of a free-range bird. If that's not to your taste, you shouldn't go there.

              I think that these breeds of chicken are great eating. The preferred method of cooking is steeping in salted water. Turn the heat up, when it gets to boiling, turn it off and let the chicken steep. The meat should be rare and red at the bone for the traditional taste. You can roast them, but again, go for rare.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Fair enough, Melanie. Let's call the hard fowl an acquired taste that I've yet to acquire. (For what it's worth, I did prepare the bird in much the way you describe, albeit less on the rare side. I found its texture unpalatable enough to put flavor beside the point.)

                In any case, perhaps my question at this point should be: where in Chinatown can I acquire a (raw) chicken comparable to the wares in the windows of all the barbecue joints?

            2. The original comment has been removed
              1. If you have to "ask" --- Maybe you should restrict yourself to shopping at the neighborhood grocery store. Live Poultry in Cambridge - Is no longer doing "fresh" killed. They stopped killing over a year ago. The "aroma" of the two chicken places in Boston - on a good HOT day - is truly a memorable experience. Takes your breath away.

                1 Reply