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I want to lash out against the chicken breast-ification of restaurant food

I really need to vent. Everywhere I go if I order something in a restaurant that has chicken in it it is usually overcooked tasteless, skinless, chicken breast. Aside from the places that offer a whole, half, or quarter roasted chicken, it seems like chicken breast is the only option. I am primarily talking about places I go to for a quick lunch or non-special occasion, weeknight dinner. Is anyone else tired of chicken breast or is it just me?

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  1. I never order chicken in a restaurant any more, unless it's fried chicken, and it's half a chicken (like at one of our local places). I don't even order it at the local Chinese-American places.

    I've come to loath chicken breast, though I have some very serviceable recipes that use it (I have a lovely braised chicken breast recipe that's worth the effort, maybe I should buy a few). Mostly it's just bleah.

    Get the fish instead. ;)

    1. Your both right. The main thing here is what the market demands, and unfortunatly americans are ever increasingly lazy. I've heard "Idon't eat chicken with bones" hundreds of times. The majority don't know (or don't care) that the breast is the most tasteless part of the bird. Everything is "conveinience", anything we can shove in our face and get it over with so we can get on with our "busy lifestyle". Nation of sheep.

      17 Replies
      1. re: mrbigshotno.1

        It's appealing to the lowest common denominator, plus what the wholesale market provides.

        At home, I cook bone-in chicken thighs almost exclusively. If I buy a chicken breast, it's to make salad, and I poach it. In restaurants, I avoid chicken most of the time for the reasons Tracy L mentioned.

        Between the "I don't eat chicken with bones" folk, and those that believe the breast is best and turn up their noses at "the cheap cuts", the restaurant world is awash in "white meat". Gimme the dark, tasty stuff every time.

        1. re: mcsheridan

          For the past six months I've been using chicken thighs, too - boned and boneless.
          All I use the boned breast for is something like kiev, which is cooked quickly. I haven't ordered chicken in a restaurant in years.

          1. re: mcsheridan

            So, anyone who prefers breast meat is part of the "lowest common denominator"? Personally, I prefer the taste and texture of white meat. I always have. If you think that your preference for bone-in thigh meat makes you more enlightened or higher class than me, than that says more about your than it does about me.

            I don't care about the bones, but I simply don't care for the stronger flavor and different texture of dark meat. And I don't live in America. I live in Japan. All of the meat except tiny little drumsticks is de-boned in Japan because the Japanese don't like to bother with bones either and sasami (a sort of white meat filet) and breasts are sold aplenty. I guess that also makes them part of the LCD, eh?

            1. re: Orchid64

              I'm sorry if I offended you (or indeed anyone else) but I did not mean "lowest common denominator" as a put-down, it's merely a marketing shortcut to take the easy way out. And I don't think that those who prefer dark meat are better or more enlightened or higher-class than those who don't.

              In fact, my statement about "the cheap cuts" implies that those who are "higher-class" are among those preferring breast to thigh.

              And I'll bet the chicken sold in Japan has a bit more (or maybe even a lot more) flavor overall than the overprocessed birds sold here.

              To each his own taste, always...

              1. re: Orchid64

                Orchid64, I am going to question your basic assumption. You are CONDITIONED to prefer the taste and texture of white meat. I know, because I was conditioned that way too. It takes effort, sometimes, to break the conditioning and truly let yourself go. It is a process, not always easy, but one that can lead to extraordinary pleasure.

                Quite frankly, I think there are certain applications for which it makes no sense to prefer white meat. In a long simmering stew in which the dark meat (on the bone) can lend more flavor to the liquid. For high heat charcoal, like tandoori (again, on the bone). I still like my fried chicken pieces to be breast meat, because the process is oily. But at least there is a reason for my preference.

                On Chowhound, I think it should be a goal to constantly broaden our horizons and unburden our tastes from years of conditioning. I'd love to get to the point one day when I don't have to say "becuase that's the way I prefer it" or "that's the way I've always liked it" but to be able to make an honest (with myself) appraisal after serious investigation.

                1. re: Steve

                  Forgive me but I think it is rather presumptuous of you to assume that Orchid64 is conditioned to prefer the taste and texture of white meat as if there is some sort of conspiracy planned by a nefarious chicken breast pusher crime organization. [ Chicken breast Yakuza?] Orchid64 lives in Japan and from what i have experienced, they have no qualms in offering every part of the bird and in some ingenious ways, Perhaps Orchid has tried dark meat and still prefers white. Not my or your choice but hardly some sort of Pavlovian Conditioning.

                  1. re: currymouth

                    i agree with curry. Perhaps not everyone likes what you like, and no, it is not always about a conspiracy.
                    Steve, you say that a Chowhound must broaden its horizons. Well, start now!

                  2. re: Steve

                    I stated my strong preference for thighs and wings, but IMHO, everyone has their own palate to satisfy. I personally think everyone has the right to embrace the notion, "to each his/her own."

                    1. re: Steve

                      Wow, that is fairly tough and uncalled for.

                      Orchid specifically stated, "I don't care about the bones, but I simply don't care for the stronger flavor and different texture of dark meat."

                      Sounds like due diligence performed here Steve, just a differentconclusion.

                      1. re: Steve

                        I grew up eating chicken thighs, wings, legs, backs and even necks. At some point during my early adolescence, I became turned off to the stronger flavor and softer texture of dark chicken meat. I am not sure why- I know very well what it tastes like, and that it is more tender and flavorful: it is that very flavor that I don't care for. I went through my teen and college years being the only one in the group who didn't enjoy a large basket of buffalo wings. Now, that's the opposite of conditioning!

                        1. re: vvvindaloo

                          Then I think you have indeed found your preference, except to say that I am sorry that the delight of buffalo wings is forever closed to you.

                      2. re: Steve

                        Steve, I couldn't possibly disagree with you more strenuously.

                        I have generally preferred lighter meats for my entire life. When I was a child, I wanted only white meat of chicken and turkey. I preferred pork loin to shoulder. Lamb breast was a nightmare to me.

                        You can't speak for another person's palette. "More flavor" is far from the only consideration. And especially speaking from a Japanese person's perspective, texture and preparation are vastly important, with refinement being a primary concern.

                        Broaden your own horizons and accept that fat and rich are not the ne plus ultra for every eater. As much as I enjoy an occasional decadent treat, that's certainly not the way I want to eat every day by a long shot. I'd take a chicken breast sandwich over a thigh one almost any weekday lunchtime, and it's certainly not because I have an inferior palette to yours. Mine is simply different, and more prone to fatigue, apparently.

                        1. re: dmd_kc

                          I used to be a dark meat eater growing up (which was an issue since we had 3 dark meat eaters and 1 light), but I switched over to liking light meat later on in life. When I lived in Japan, I found that the dark meat was a lot fattier than what we're used to in the states and found that preference for light meat to be a lot stronger. However, as huaqiao pointed out, the majority of Japanese cooking does seem to involve dark meat. Even at KFC and other fried chicken places, you're not likely to find white meat.

                      3. re: Orchid64

                        Isn't most chicken in Japanese cooking dark meat? Oyako-don, karage, chicken katsu, etc. I believe those are all made from dark meat usually.

                      4. re: mcsheridan

                        I'll take both sides of the battle on this one.

                        I prefer white meat chicken. I simply don't enjoy the taste of the dark. Nobody has conditioned me to eat only white meat. Health ain't got nothing to do with it - the more skin and fat the better. I love gnawing at bones.

                        I deplore the fact that most recipes tell you to cook chicken for far too long. I like my white meat at 155 F, and I don't get complaints about dark meat served at 160. While I don't know what I may be doing that differs from the norm, the dark meat cooks faster than the white when I cook a whole chicken. They are ready at the same time.

                        In my convection oven, a whole chicken (which I butterfly) cooks in 35 minutes at 400 F. A breast on the bone, depending on size, takes 15-20 minutes.

                        When I saute or grill a boneless breast, it's 5-10 minutes total cooking time (depending mainly on thickness).

                        Since I buy good chicken and don't overcook it, the white meat is usually juicy, tender, and very flavourful. Some of you bottom lovers may never have eaten a properly cooked chicken breast in your lives.

                        I deplore the fact that even restaurants serving good quality chicken overcook the breasts until they are as delicious as cardboard. Dark meat is simply much more forgiving.

                        I deplore that all of our local markets cook their prepared chickens beyond edibility. The dark meat survives the food code's 185 F (or is it 195?) "recommendation"; the white meat doesn't.

                        I use dark meat (on the bone and usually with the skin) in soup, and also in long simmering stews. The breasts contribute little to these preparations. I can eat the dark meat in these dishes because (let's be honest here) no particular chicken flavour remains after all that simmering. The meat tastes of its sauce or of nothing in particular.

                        Most of the chicken breasts I've had at restaurants are dry and tasteless. They aren't "tofu" analogues because tofu isn't tough. They are seldom worth eating other than as a generic protein source.

                        Then there is the stuff that looks like a chicken breast but has a weird texture and tastes of the chemicals processed therein. My heavens, what is that stuff?

                        1. re: embee

                          This is quite a good post, embee, very well reasoned. I will only add there are certain cooking techniques that are difficult to get right at home, like great tandoori kabobs. White meat can be good, usually you taste just the marinade really, but the thighs and legs when done properly are out of this world. Another example would be the Peruvian rotisserie chicken that is VERY prolific around my area (DC). Customers from all over Latin America line up and pay double the price of a grocery store-cooked bird for the flavor. They eat it all, of course, but the pieces of dark meat are especially prized, and with good reason.

                      5. re: mrbigshotno.1

                        I agree with all of this. I almost never use chicken breast, especially boneless. I almost always buy chicken thighs. I also rarely order chicken out, unless as others have said, it's fried.

                      6. The worst "mexican" meal I ever had (in Florida) was an order of chicken mole that turned out to be jarred sauce poured over perfect cubes of tasteless chicken breast. I would have had more fun by poking holes in the chicken cubes and starting a game of Yatzee.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Veggo

                          I could not agree more with all the above. I have always wondered what became of all those thighs-my favorite piece.

                        2. The whole "white meat" thing came about from the "eat healthy " gurus a decade or three back.
                          Red meat was bad. Dark meat from birds was better. Best was white fish and white meat. Lower fat, cholesterol, and unfortunately taste.
                          Remember the ads trying to hype pork as the "other white meat" ?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: hannaone

                            i think the white meat thing predates the eat healthy thong, in this country.

                            think thanksgiving - the iconic image is breast meat from a turkey...

                          2. I avoid orfering chic in restaurants, at home, I use thighs, awesome flavor.

                            1. One of the nearby Indian restaurants, where the rest of the food is very well made and delicious, uses the cubes of compressed pre-fab particle-board chicken breast , added to the finished sauces, for the tikka masala, korma, and saag on their lunch buffet. Very disheartening.

                              1. jfood is a huge dark meat chicken fan but also likes the white meat.

                                Most people cook chicken too long. Jfood was taught at least 190-200 degrees internal temperature and if you look on these boards you will see tons of recipes that roast a chicken for an hour in 400+ oven. Blech.

                                Chieck only needs to obtain 160 and jfood cooks to 165-170. At that point the breast is juicy and delicious.

                                So if you want to taste good white meat then cook it yourself and do NOT overcook. It can be good.

                                13 Replies
                                1. re: jfood

                                  I SO agree with you about overcooked chicken breasts. Check out this chow recipe and see how quickly it cooks and to what temp:

                                  http://www.chow.com/stories/10899?pag...

                                  I've made this a number of times and it's NEVER dry and/or tasteless.

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    Thats boneless jfood hopes. When jfood grills boneless it is three minutes per side on the gril, no more.

                                    1. re: jfood

                                      Bone-in you meant to write. Yes? And yes!

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        No way a breast with a bone gets to 160 degrees in 15 minutes in a 450 oven. It has to be without the bone.

                                        1. re: jfood

                                          Trust me. I've fixed this a half dozen times. With a REALLY large breast it has sometimes taken an additional five minutes but by big I'm talking about one that is enough for two people for a meal. Bone-IN, sweetpea :)

                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            ur a better man than jfood charlie brown.

                                            1. re: jfood

                                              So you're too much of a weinie to try it? Is that what you're telling me? My 85 year old friend fixes it. Come on, "waste" one while mrs. jfood is gone. If it's not right, I'll bring you bagels from Manhattan :)

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                Okeedokee...jfood always up for a challenge.

                                                1. re: jfood

                                                  Fixed tonight. Took about 18 minutes and it almost got away from me :)

                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                    OK OK stop yelling at jfood. :-))

                                                    He'll try it but he will use the other breast for some good chicken Parm since he plans on trying the Zuni Ricotta Gnocchi recipe.

                                              2. re: jfood

                                                BTW, served leftover ravioli filling on top of crackers last night. VERY good. I trust you :)

                                    2. re: jfood

                                      Count me in agreement with overcooked chicken - I cook to 157 and let carry-over cooking to bring it up to 160 - clear juices and moist meat.

                                      I buy the whole chicken (local farm raised) and the breasts actually have flavor. Legs and thighs for one type of meal (grilled, stews and casseroles) and the breasts get butterflied for braising, frying and stuffing. And the rest for the stock pot.

                                    3. Hey, I'll trade anyone my chicken breast for their thigh any day of the week! But it has to have the skin or it's no deal.

                                      1. Whenever I see the phrase "boneless chunks of chicken," I take that as a warning.

                                        1. I agree completely. The worst are those with the rubbery texture of having been cooked in a microwave, yet they have grill marks -- which are probably placed there for decoration. I can't stand it.

                                          I do like boneless chicken breasts when I use them for Chicken Cordon Bleu, or my fried chicken cutlets.

                                          1. I agree with this entire thread generally speaking. However, when you do find the perfectly cooked (skin-on) chicken breast, it is so. damn. good.

                                            1. My ex was retired and did all of the shopping, so for health and economic reasons, he only bought boneless skinless breasts. Then he'd barbecue them until they were dry and tough. Ick.

                                              My SO and pretty much just buy thighs now, and I've discovered a great way to use them for cashew chicken, since take-out was such a disappointment.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: tracylee

                                                Boneless, skinless breasts can be done on the grill perfectly. I drizzle some olive oil and whatever else I want on them. Heat the grill really hot, cook 4-5 minutes a side, no more. They're perfectly done and still wonderfully moist. So bone-in or boneless, DON'T OVERCOOK! It's that easy.

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  pound it first and only cook for 3 per side.

                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                    I do mine on the grill all the time, sometimes just my cast iton bone it or not. very simple and very moist. Never had a problem.

                                                    I do admit the fast food chains chicken is so so. Probably when I go to places like that I know better and I order a salad or soup or something simple. Don't order something you already know isn't going to be good. You are just asking for it.

                                                2. I'm with the vast majority here - chicken thighs. And throw in those wings as well - even tastier but just more work to get every last bit of those tasty morsels of meat. Those sterile chicken breasts have their place - poached and in some sort of salad. Chicken breasts are the poultry equivalent of tofu: relatively tasteless but they latch on to sauces and dressings well.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                                    LOL! Chicken breasts as poultry tofu. Love it! And so very accurate too. But I think I like tofu better. '-)

                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                      Me too - the thought of a hen roaming the coop with no boobs has to be a major blow to her ego.

                                                  2. I'm in total agreement. I've disliked chicken breasts since I was a kid and complained that they were dry and bland compared to the other parts of the chicken. But, apart from restaurants, the way I see it is that everyone else can fight over the breasts and I can have all the yummy dark meat to myself <insert evil laugh here>

                                                    1. White meat vs. dark meat is like Mac vs. PC. They're different things. Virtues and drawbacks.

                                                      Both can be excellent when cooked correctly. But I could never say I liked one better than the other any more than I could say asparagus is a better vegetable than the turnip.

                                                      Depends on what you feel like eating. Most of the time, I choose the white meat -- but that's because I generally like lighter foods. Breast can be prepared delectably. And while I like salmon and mackerel a lot, there are time when I just want cod or tilapia.

                                                      1. Well, your thread title sure reeled me in, and gave me a good laugh too. I have long been railing (with no result) against people who 'only eat white meat'. They are also the ones most likely to be convinced that the 'Cajun blackened chicken breast sandwich' , a weekly special at their office flavor-free cafeteria, is somehow representative of 'Southern' food. (These are the same places that egg noodles with catsup is the same as spaghetti with red sauce.

                                                        10 Replies
                                                        1. re: Fydeaux

                                                          I don't get your post. Are you saying that blackened chicken breast is not Cajun? Or that Cajun is not Southern? Or are you saying that an office cafeteria simply does not prepare food well? I enjoy the occasional dish made with chicken breast, and do not eat dark meat at all. And yet, I've never been to a restaurant where (or met a person who believed that) spaghetti al pomodoro is the same thing as 'egg noodles' with catsup. Where do you eat, and with whom? You are making some gross generalizations here, and they barely seem relevant.
                                                          It's hardly surprising that your 'railing against' people has not shown positive results- we are discussing people's preferences here, not their ethnic correctness or cultural savvy.

                                                          1. re: vvvindaloo

                                                            Blackened proteins aren't traditional Cajun food. They're a relatively recent development by chef Paul Prudhomme. Also darn tasty if done correctly. Some people don't like seeing such things described a Cajun, but hey, it's not like there's some rule saying that regional cuisines were fixed in 1950 and not allowed to further evolve.

                                                            Dang, I'm now wishing that the place down at the beach that does a killer blackened tuna sandwich wasn't too far away for a lunch run.

                                                            As for the original post, I'm in the group that prefers white meat to dark, largely because I prefer less fatty cuts of meat in general. Back when I still ate pork and beef, I was the same way about red meat. It's just not a pleasant taste or mouth feel for me when there's too much blubber in the cut, no matter how many different types of meat I've tried. I'll have a craving for Buffalo wings about 4-6 times a year but that's it for how much dark meat chicken I prefer to eat.

                                                            1. re: beachmouse

                                                              Am I missing something here? You're not the first one who has categorized Buffalo wings as dark meat. I've cooked them and eaten them out but they were made with *wings* which is white meat. It IS white meat, isn't it? The ones I've had were. Please enlighten me :)

                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                I've always considered wings white meat as well. At fried chicken places 1/4 dark chicken is thigh and leg and 1/4 white is breast and wing. I think wing meat differs from breast meat more than thigh vs. leg, but the wing is still white IMHO.

                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                  Wings are dark meat to me - they get used (if only just a bit) and so have significant blood vessels and marbled fat.

                                                                  1. re: alwayscooking

                                                                    Same here, and it's because of the fattiness, not what they get sold with at the chicken shack.

                                                                    1. re: alwayscooking

                                                                      But the meat is white not dark. I just don't get it. And I wouldn't eat a bone-in leg or thigh if you paid me so I take the white vs. dark things pretty seriously :)

                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                        I have never heard of anyone considering the wing anything but white meat. It looks like white meat, it tastes like white meat, it is white meat.

                                                                    2. re: c oliver

                                                                      I consider wings white meat to the extent that there is meat. Most of a wing is skin and fat, though. Yum.

                                                                  2. re: vvvindaloo

                                                                    Wow! I dont think I have ever been so completely misunderstood, not even by my ex-wife. And I can think of no way of responding to you that would make my views any clearer.

                                                                    So I am sorry if you were offended, and I am leaving this topic.

                                                                2. This is one I use which makes the most delicious good ol' BORING Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts.

                                                                  I make chili bread. Yes just regular but with stale sour dough bread, I rub with olive oil and garlic and then add chili cumin and cayenne. Coat the bread and bake till toasty. Something about toasting it with the spice makes the difference. Cool and then put in a processor to grind up. You may want to add a little more chili powder or cumin and I like some parsley as well added in dry not fresh.

                                                                  Now in the mean time I have my breasts marinating in buttermilk, hot sauce and pepper. Overnight. Then dip the breasts in flour, then egg, then the chili bread crumbs. Pan saute in cast iron and butter and olive oil mix and then finish in the oven. Serve with a lime cilantro, chili powder, and sour cream sauce. It is a simple easy sauce which is cool with the spicy chicken. Also a small bit of salsa on the side is wonderful with a fresh avacado, lime and mint salad.

                                                                  Now, that chicken melts in your mouth so juicy and NOT so boring. Other than the bread crumbs it is pretty simple. Marinade ahead and make the sour cream sauce ahead.

                                                                  Another one marinated in V-8 and then coated in fresh bread crumbs and cocoa and spices with a fresh tomato and brown sugar glaze. Another moist tender NOT rubbery simple NOT so boring chicken breast.

                                                                  They can be made good

                                                                  1. I hope people keep snatching up those chicken breasts and ordering them like there's no tomorrow, so the price of the stuff I like (thighs) stays lower.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. I was recently reading a thread on one of the local boards where a user complained that the panino at a new restaurant in my neighborhood contained dark meat and the Hound was expecting a breast and did not like the sandwich much because of it.

                                                                      People are so expecting white meat in restaurants that they're expected to be warned if that's not what they're getting.

                                                                      I've always loved dark meat. Even as a kid I wanted legs and thighs all of the time. I avoid any dish in a restaurant that says it's made from boneless breasts because I know 90% of the time it's going to be dry and flavorless. Yes, I know breasts and can done well and I have cooked many a tasty breast in my time, but restaurants usually don't get it.

                                                                      Now that boneless, skinless thighs are available, I use them a lot more in my cooking. My husband, who always claims to prefer white meat, doesn't know the difference once I've cooked them up in a delectable sauce.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Avalondaughter

                                                                        I do like boneless skinless thighs for some things but definitely not all. 90% of my clients for catering or who I personally cook for and my friends, breasts. But I don't mind the dark at times.

                                                                        I make a light lemon and herb sauce and I HATE it over dark meat. And to agree restaurants make it too much and too dry but that doesn't mean too many have converted to white mean and it is any less more appealing.

                                                                        1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                          Lemon and herb over thigh doesn't appeal to me at all. I know of no animal that has such disparate tastes as the various parts of poultry. The same flavorings work on most cuts of beef, lamb, pork -- but the same can't be said of most birds. Weird - I've never really thought of that before.

                                                                      2. I love chicken breasts for chicken salad, for enchiladas, and for tossing on a salad or a bbq baked potato. But I almost never order chicken of any color at restaurants. If I'm paying the money to eat out I want something a little more exciting; I can make a kick-ass roast chicken myself at home.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: mordacity

                                                                          Chicken breast in my lovely chicken salad is necessary, I'll admit that. Thighs do tend to be harder to get right for chicken salad because of the gristly bits. My husband gags on things like that, so I use chicken breast but only when the texture is really important. I never over-cook it, and I cook it in something that enhances the flavour (usually broth with onion and garlic).

                                                                        2. Hear hear! Chicken breast is the tofu of meats. It can taste good, but by itself it's essentially tasteless. One really has to cook it the right way to make it delicious. The other parts of the chicken--thighs, legs, bones, liver, feet, etc.--are way more interesting to eat than the breast.

                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                          1. re: dty

                                                                            dty, the breast can be amazingly delicious if cooked right. Dredge 'em lightly and cook over HIGH heat at four minutes per side -- then tell me they're bland.

                                                                            "Delicate" doesn't equal "tasteless." You know, macadamias don't explode with flavor. Avocados are mild and buttery. Sweetbreads' taste is gentle and complex. Do these ingredients all qualify as "tasteless?" Of course not. To condemn chicken breast as flavorless is to say garlic is inherently "better" than lettuce.

                                                                            1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                              It's best to start with good breasts taken from chickens raised well in a healthy environment - their taste and their texture are different

                                                                              1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                I am not a fan of breast meat, but one of my favorite recipes is so simple and tasty that I just may run out an get me some. I buy the bone in breast, season simply with salt and pepper and perhaps a dash of lemon pepper also. Then lather on Dejon mustard on all sides then bake in the oven at 300 degrees, Turn once and bake to an internal of 160. The caveat is that the bones lends itself to the flavor.

                                                                                1. re: dmd_kc

                                                                                  You call it delicate, I call it bland.

                                                                                  1. re: dty

                                                                                    I don't disagree, but this simply means you've never had a high quality, decently processed one that has been cooked well.

                                                                                    1. re: embee

                                                                                      perhaps it means it simply means that dty has never had "a high quality, decently processed one that has been cooked well" or perhaps it simply means that dty finds the taste bland.

                                                                              2. Besides places that serve the whole chicken as mentioned in the OP, the only mass market place I can think of that serves dark meat is Panda Express. Orange chicken is made from thigh meat and many competitors say that's an advantage Panda Express has because they can make money off cheaper dark meat rather than the usual chicken breast.

                                                                                Interestingly, if you google Panda Express Orange Chicken, you get a lot of hits of recipes people have come up with to replicate it at home. Recipes which use breast meat. Heh. Americans just have an aversion to dark meat it seems.

                                                                                1. Julia Child said Americans send all the good chicken parts to France, meaning the dark meat. We keep the chicken breast here to serve on top of crappy salads in crappy restaurants and are conditioned to teach our kids to like it from birth. I'm all for letting people eat the white meat if they want. I get to keep my cheap, delicious chicken thighs and legs all to myself!

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: janecooks

                                                                                    When I lived in Miami I noticed I could buy veal liver for next to nothing. It is a lot more expensive here in Toronto, but is far, far more expensive in France where it is almost a delicacy.

                                                                                  2. For the most part I have preferred breast meat. As a child I really wanted to like drumsticks because of the 'handle' but never did. I went to culinary school and worked in the industry for many years so I consider myself knowledgeable about food.

                                                                                    Now if I am preparing a chicken dish that is braised or stewed, I do prefer dark meat as white meat would be dry.

                                                                                    I have noticed that the people I know who like dark meat like to make disparaging comments about those who prefer white meat. Why is this? Doesn't my liking white meat mean we won't be trying to get the same pieces of the bird?

                                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: amethiste

                                                                                      That's the way I look at it: more dark meat for me! (of course, if the breast meat looks Really, Really, good, I might sneak one small slice in there just for contrast with the dark stuff.) I'm not crazy!

                                                                                      1. re: amethiste

                                                                                        "I have noticed that the people I know who like dark meat like to make disparaging comments about those who prefer white meat."

                                                                                        I also have noticed that, and I don't think it's just limited to chicken. Some people make those same superior remarks if one likes filet mignon as opposed to a rib-eye.

                                                                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                          Just like the OP suggests, the strong tendancy toward white meat in the US has led us into bastardized flavors and flavorless meals: Indian and Chinese restaurants who serve no dark meat or meat on the bone. Moroccan restaurants using all white meat in their tagines. Somebody could go their whole life eating in Italian restaurants in the US thinking that the Italians only eat their chicken as boneless, skinless breast meat. Sure, bastardization will always be with us, but people who are not averse and even actively like dark meat want to make our world a tastier place.

                                                                                          1. re: Steve

                                                                                            Tastier to whom?

                                                                                            And where in DC are you eating? I live in NY, and I have never been to an Indian, Chinese or Moroccan restaurant that served ONLY white meat. And as far as Italian cuisine (which isn't very big on chicken, anyway) goes, the vast majority of Italian chicken dishes are white meat-only.

                                                                                            1. re: vvvindaloo

                                                                                              Good question - tastier to whom? Let me answer that.

                                                                                              For certain techniques, dark meat is superior. And I THINK I can prove it, but it's not easy, so bear with me, this might take a while.

                                                                                              One example: I think dark meat, on the bone, is tastier for stews.

                                                                                              Only in a few places in the world (notably in the US), are boneless, skinless chunks of white meat so prevalent, and these would be the only places somebody would make a stew with white meat only, like a chicken pot pie.

                                                                                              In fact, I do not believe you can find a stew recipe that you can link to on the internet from anywhere else in the world that does not include dark meat. Not Continental Europe, not Africa, not South America, not Asia. Look up Italian websites, French Websites, Portuguese websites, wherever you want, you will not find stew recipes with only white meat. Why would this be? I have traveled extensively throughout France. I have never come across a stew recipe that uses white meat only.

                                                                                              The only place where this is true is certain parts of the US and maybe a VERY few other places. Maybe a few individuals might do it, but entire societies, I doubt it. There has to be a reason for this, unless you believe it is coincidence. I believe it's because it tastes better. ... to whom? To ALL of those people all over the world from Asia to South America and beyond.

                                                                                              I will say that the ONLY people to whom stews are better with white meat only are people who have been conditioned against dark meat or a very few individuals whose personal revulsion to dark meat is inexplicable. As I've said before, you can always find anecdotal evidence to show anything.

                                                                                              In addition, and I believe this is important, to those folks who THINK they are only eating white meat, you are enjoying it sometimes in a dish made with stock using dark meat as well, so the flavor of dark meat is certainly present. This leads me to believe that the distaste for dark meat is more psychological than any "personal preference" in most cases.

                                                                                              Your comment that the "vast majority of Italian dishes are white meat only" seems wild to me, though I am no Italy expert. I asked a friend who is, and he said that you will not find chicken on a lot of menus in Italy "It's no pork" but Italians can and do eat chicken- all parts. He disagreed with your assessment.

                                                                                              Anyway, go ahead... I do not know for certain that I'm right, but I'm pretty sure I am.

                                                                                              1. re: Steve

                                                                                                you ignore economy. america has always been a fairly wealthy country overall, and can afford to only use the white meat in a stew, and there is not a huge peasant culinary history that informs the dishes

                                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                                  France as much of Europe has been a pretty wealthy country for a looooong time now, and every family has plenty of access to supermarkets and chicken parts in various forms. Yes, they like chicken breast for some things, as I do, but really it would be rare to find someone who rejects their coq au vin, whether their background is peasant or aristocrat.

                                                                                                  1. re: Steve

                                                                                                    they have a history of peasant cuisine

                                                                                              2. re: vvvindaloo

                                                                                                I am a dark meat fan, and I generally agree that if most people like white meat, there's more dark meat for me! However, the drawback (and, I think, what encourages the complaints by dark meat lovers here and elsewhere) is that it is harder to find chicken dishes with dark meat.

                                                                                                And VVindaloo, I live in NYC (Manhattan, specifically), and I have gotten delivery (or TRIED to get delivery) from a few Indian places that only used chicken breast. I have specifically asked "does this dish use breast or dark meat?" Answer: Breast "Is there any way I can get dark meat?" Answer: No, we only have chicken breast here. Ouch!

                                                                                                1. re: NYAngeleno

                                                                                                  Thank you for clarifying our main issue, NYAngeleno: "it is harder to find chicken dishes with dark meat."

                                                                                                  Hard to nearly impossible in some places. We don't have anything against breast meat so much as we'd like a near-equal chance to enjoy dark meat when dining out.

                                                                                                  Must be why we cook so much of it at home. :)

                                                                                                  1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                                                    Yeah, a Moroccan 'deli' opened up in downtown DC trying to appeal to the lunchtime crowd. Folks say go there and I find tagines with chunks of boneless, skinless white chicken. Really, I promise you, they are cooking it this way to appeal to a certain public, not because they themselves would ever eat it this way or because it tastes as good. They are making a concession to folks who are tired of the same burgers, etc but don't really want to be challenged by an exotic food.

                                                                                        2. My name is LABuckeye Fan and I'm a chicken rube. I prefer the boneless breast. I wish I liked dark meat, it's cheaper. I just don't. I'm not saying I never eat it with bone in, either. But there is just something different about chicken bones. I have no problem eating a whole red snapper as it stares at me from my plate, or gnawing at on t-bone in the privacy of my own home.. But there is something about eating chicken off the bone that feels like an autopsy. I will bake a delicious whole chicken, remove the breasts and use the rest for soup. There. I've come out of the chicken closet.

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

                                                                                            Everyone in the CBA (Chicken Breasts Anonymous) meeting recites, "Hi LA Buckeye Fan..."
                                                                                            And as I walk up to console you, I hand you your ginger beer with vodka and lime juice, and with slight of hand, pull out the dark meat from your soup... :)

                                                                                            1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                              Bulavinaka, lol. I wouldn't have it any other way.

                                                                                          2. I have ended up in an ideal marriage. My wife only likes white meat chicken, cooked dry, skin removed. I have always favored dark chicken, I love the skin, and I gnaw the bones, so I get all the good chicken parts. Of course, my wife thinks she gets all the good chicken parts. A satisfying paradox all around.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: therealdoctorlew

                                                                                              I, on the other hand, have married into a family that unanimously regards chicken or turkey breast meat as fit only for salads or sandwiches, with LOTS of mayonnaise. Our Thanksgiving turkeys are always cooked with a whole extra set of legs, and afterwards the entire breast goes into the fridge. The upside to this is that I've learned how to cook an edible breast, something I'd grown up believing was nonexistent. A very pale pink is what I go for...

                                                                                            2. Having read this thread, I think I have an explanation for the disparaging of those who prefer white meat, one the OP hit on the nose. It's not white meat per se but the precooked cubes of pale, rubbery chicken breast covered in sauce that appear whenever you order chicken. The bland, overcooked stuff does disservice to diners who want something better, to diners who don't know better and then get used to and expect chicken breast in everything, and to people who like white meat done well and now have to deal with the backlash from those who are sick of seeing it everywhere.

                                                                                              And just for the record, I prefer dark meat and wish it showed up more often in chicken dishes. But at least dark meat's lesser popularity makes it cheaper.

                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: pickledginger

                                                                                                If more people would do Sam's Lincoln Log chicken (I did my last one upside-down, with chipotle powder and spanish paprika on a sturdy carrot platform), maybe we all could get along. Every bite was as good as the next.

                                                                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                  When I first read this I thought you meant you put the carrots/logs on top and I was having a real hard time getting my brain around that :)

                                                                                                2. re: pickledginger

                                                                                                  I, a chicken breast eater, abhor the rubbery, pre-cooked cubes of 'white meat' offered at low-quality establishments and refuse to eat it. But I disagree that the disparaging comments of some have anything to do with the quality of the meat- they are about looking down on others who have accepted, or even enjoy, a food trend (the alleged increase in the use of chicken breast meat over dark meat in restaurants) that they do not like. Certain posters here are convinced of the superiority of their own preference (and I am not referring to actual 'bastardization' of ethnic recipes or techniques, which I cannot support) because it is "tastier".

                                                                                                  1. re: vvvindaloo

                                                                                                    Yeah, you're probably right that a lot of the frustration is about food trends that go against one's preferences. But as a dark-meat eater, I'd be a lot more likely to order chicken, assuming it would probably be breast, if I could count on it being juicy and flavorful. It's those dry cubes that get to me!

                                                                                                3. I note that you used the word tasteless. I would object strongly to that as taste is a matter of opinion.

                                                                                                  Now if you said flavourless then I'm right there with you.

                                                                                                  My SO, a low-fat, very-little-red-meat, take-away-the-skin sort of person, who will regularly deliver up two pale slabs of meat nestling in a styrofoam cot with matching white under-blanket. My task is to try and make it interesting, to develop the flavour it is so lacking. This is of course easy. Out comes my rendered chicken fat, or I inject garlic oil, or it is sliced and filled with smoked meat and cheese or whatever. May be bread it with some unusual seasoning.

                                                                                                  "There," she will say, "I told you it tastes nice".

                                                                                                  Mind you, she hasn't yet grasped the boneless-chicken-thigh replacement subterfuge.

                                                                                                  1. I am a bit hesitant to weigh in on this controversial thread (!) but surely it depends on the quality of the chicken. If you buy cheap, boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a package the likelihood is they will be somewhat bland. If you buy a whole, free-range chicken and cook it whole, or cut it up yourself, the whole bird will be tasty. Whether you prefer the white meat or the dark is then down to personal preference.

                                                                                                    I am always shocked when I hear of chicken available in the States for as little as $0.69 per pound. You'd never, ever get chicken that cheap in Europe. I am assuming (although I don't know as I've never tried it) that is the kind of chicken which is tasteless. I know that in the UK the battery chickens that cost a few quid are just not worth it. The problem is that a lot of people have got used to chicken as a cheap staple. Spend a bit more on it and eat it less often. :-)

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                      The low price for chicken in the US you cite is for, as you say, battery chickens as a cheap staple. Free-range, organic, etc. chickens are not inexpensive in the US.

                                                                                                    2. I tend to agree with the OP; restaurant chicken seems to be overcooked and bland for the most part. However, I enjoy cooking chicken breasts at home, where I can control the doneness. On Thanksgiving, I like a slice of juicy breast to go with the huge pile of dark meat, but when I make sandwiches the next few days, it's mostly white meat. And, when I cook chicken at home, it's usually thighs or legs, although that may be because of price as much as flavour.

                                                                                                      Anecdote: my mother-in-law lived in Windsor, Ontario, across the river from Detroit. On a visit when we had gone shopping on the US side, we stopped at Church's chicken on the way back. I went into the store (where I was the only white person), and ordered 16 pieces to go. "All white meat?" the large black man behind the counter asked. "No, all dark" I replied. He gave me a funny look, but when we got home, we found a few extra pieces tucked in.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: KevinB

                                                                                                        Good for you that you are open to both. I liken this issue to spicy food. I don't insist ALL of my food be spicy, but if a dish is traditionally served spicy, then generally I want it prepared for me that way. I'm sure very few people want hot chili paste spread over their Eggs Benedict, and I'm sure Buffalo Wing aficionados don't want their wings deboned.... just because it's 'easier' to eat them that way.

                                                                                                        Here's what I 'd like to see..... for folks who shy away from dark meat.... the next time you go to your favorite kabob place, instead of going for the tried and true boneless chicken, order the bone-in kabobs for once. You may be pleasantly surprised that they come out not greasy but full of flavor and better than those hit-or-miss chunks of white meat.