HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
What's your latest food quest?

Poulet v. Volaille - what's the difference? [moved from France]

polishpierogi Mar 10, 2009 02:15 PM

I draw a blank when i need to know the difference between poulet and volaille. I know Poulet Roti.....is Volaille, Chicken breasts?

Thank you!!

  1. Delucacheesemonger Mar 10, 2009 03:43 PM

    Poulet- mature hen, poussin-small hen, volaille-breast, coq-rooster

    7 Replies
    1. re: Delucacheesemonger
      lagatta Mar 14, 2009 03:47 AM

      breast is poitrine, but sometimes one says "l'aile" (the wing) as in "l'aile ou la cuisse?" if you are saying whether you'd prefer the front or back quarter of a roast chicken. This was euphemistic as of course "poitrine" also means a woman's breast area, but it has remained in culinary parlance.

      Volaille has nothing to do with breast.

      1. re: lagatta
        DeppityDawg Mar 14, 2009 07:51 AM

        "Poitrine" seems to be used for poultry in Canada, but in France chicken breast is usually "blanc de poulet" or "filet", and duck breast is "magret".

        1. re: DeppityDawg
          lagatta Mar 14, 2009 12:01 PM

          magret here too for duck. Yes, "poitrine" is used more here, but it is perfectly correct French. http://chefsimon.com/decoupe-poulet-s... découpe-volaille Googling it turns up more Québec recipes, but also ones from French sites. "Blanc de poulet" tends to mean a boned piece, "filet" certainly does.

          "L'aile ou la cuisse?" is the standard question, and even a popular French film.

          1. re: DeppityDawg
            Delucacheesemonger Mar 14, 2009 12:13 PM

            Have found word poitrine to be used for the best bacon l have ever experienced, one of the first things l buy when unpacked. 80% lean, not like American bacon that is 80% fat, and usually double smoked, it is fabulous. Does that mean it is breast of pig? seems way less fatty than other animal breast, eg lamb, and veal.

            1. re: Delucacheesemonger
              lagatta Mar 14, 2009 04:10 PM

              logically, it would be the breast. Already back bacon (Canadian bacon) is much less fatty thath the US-American type. I have seen many smoked pork cuts that are less fatty still, at Central European artisanal butcher shops hereabouts (though we are getting a bit far from poultry in France).

              Double-smoked anything is wonderful. Including smoked poultry.

              1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                DeppityDawg Mar 14, 2009 04:31 PM

                Yes, "poitrine de porc" is indeed pig breast, but it just corresponds to what we call "pork belly" in English. The word "ventrèche" (= "belly") is also used regionally.


                1. re: DeppityDawg
                  Delucacheesemonger Mar 14, 2009 05:28 PM

                  Thanks for the education

        2. Akitist Mar 10, 2009 03:45 PM

          Interesting question. A definition (in English) I saw was that volaille was chicken flesh. But one in French (which I have only the barest familiarity with) said it was any domestic fowl raised for eating. Poulet is pretty much pullet.

          1. d
            DeppityDawg Mar 10, 2009 03:55 PM

            Poulet is chicken. Volaille is poultry (chicken, duck, goose, turkey, …).

            4 Replies
            1. re: DeppityDawg
              martyn94 Mar 13, 2009 03:39 AM

              It depends on the context - on a shop sign, in the plural, it means that they sell fowl generally. On menus it tends to mean chicken, as has been said.

              1. re: DeppityDawg
                sunshine842 Feb 27, 2014 05:58 PM

                and rabbit. Rabbit is considered poultry in France.

                (shades of the clucking Cadbury bunny....)

                1. re: sunshine842
                  DeppityDawg Feb 27, 2014 06:33 PM

                  It depends, I think mainly in commercial contexts, and maybe they are grouped together for some legal/regulatory purposes. But if you see "volaille" in the name or description of a menu item, I don't think anyone would expect to be served rabbit, would they?

                  1. re: DeppityDawg
                    sunshine842 Feb 27, 2014 06:42 PM

                    that's where it all goes squirrely (hey, maybe that's volaille, too?)

                    On a menu, things like supréme de volaille or foies de volailles refer to chicken more often than not.

                    In the marché or at the supermarket, however, it's birds (chicken, turkey, duck, coq, poussin, quail, pigeon, pheasant, capon, etc., etc., etc.) .... or rabbit.

                    My volaillère also frequently had cerf in the display case, as well....

              2. Delucacheesemonger Mar 10, 2009 06:00 PM

                This to me is interesting, called volaille breast as was the only time l have ever seen the name on a menu and matched the flesh, and it was a number of times, what always came out was chicken breast, thus ASSUMED, duh, oh well.

                1. souphie Mar 11, 2009 03:50 AM

                  Everybody here is right. Volaille means poultry, poulet means chicken. But most of the time, "volaille" actually ends up being chicken.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: souphie
                    polishpierogi Mar 11, 2009 05:56 AM

                    So when it's on the menu...is it safe to assume it's the breast of SOME poultry animial, most likely chicken? Does it always mean chicken breast and/or pieces?

                    1. re: polishpierogi
                      DeppityDawg Mar 11, 2009 06:21 AM

                      Menu names typically give an indication of the specific preparation: for example "suprême de volaille" is the breast (and maybe a piece of the wing), but "foies de volaille" is livers. If they just say "sauté de volaille" or "fricassée de volaille", etc., then your guess is as good as mine…

                      And I agree that it's always either ordinary chicken, or turkey (cheaper). If it's some special kind of chicken, they will draw attention to the fact (poulet fermier, poulet de Bresse, etc.)

                      1. re: DeppityDawg
                        polishpierogi Mar 11, 2009 08:56 AM

                        Thank you, all!

                        1. re: polishpierogi
                          MOREKASHA Mar 11, 2009 09:58 AM

                          Some years ago during the uber chef bistro craze we were eating @ the Guy Savoys bistro. We didn't see poulet on the menu so we asked the waiter if they had chicken. Well, it was one of the funniest things I had seen in a restaurant. He gets all Peter Sellers on our ass, & points to the mirrored wall where the menu was written and says "Of course Monsieur we have volaille! That is chicken". Now I know what it is!

                          1. re: MOREKASHA
                            Oakglen Mar 11, 2009 11:32 AM

                            This discussion takes me back to my Boston days; Monk fish is to poulet as Lotte is to Volaille. Same dish...different price.

                            1. re: Oakglen
                              lagatta Mar 14, 2009 03:49 AM

                              Not if you cross the border into Québec!

                    2. re: souphie
                      tjr Mar 12, 2009 09:03 PM

                      souphie is correct on this one. Not really much of an argument about it.

                    3. ChefJune Mar 12, 2009 10:39 AM

                      I have only noticed "volaille" used with reference to "supremes" ( boneless chicken breast) and "foie" (chicken livers). Not sure what else it might be used for. Poulet always means "chicken," and Poulet Roti is roast chicken.

                      1. s
                        sak9645 Feb 27, 2014 04:31 PM

                        One cookbook I used, some years ago, translated supreme de volaille as "a supreme dish made from an old hen". My guess is that the term "volaille" may have been used for what we now call a stewing fowl -- an older chicken that is very flavorful when cooked for a long time with moist heat -- for example, in soups or stews -- but tough if broiled or roasted, when a young "poulet" would be preferred.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: sak9645
                          sunshine842 Feb 27, 2014 05:59 PM

                          no -- please see the above references from native French speakers.

                          1. re: sunshine842
                            DeppityDawg Feb 27, 2014 06:36 PM

                            "Supreme dish" is also a really, really bad translation for "suprême".

                            1. re: DeppityDawg
                              sunshine842 Feb 27, 2014 06:44 PM

                              yep -- a supréme de volaille is kind of peculiar to France -- it's a special cut of the breast with the lower joint of the wing still attached.

                        Show Hidden Posts