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Dec 9, 2009 08:14 PM

Are Whole Foods roasted chickens always so terrible?

So, Saturday night I was staying with a friend in NYC and wanted to treat her to a nice meal at home after she worked a long, difficult day. Being terribly short on oven and counter space, I decided to do my produce shopping at the Union Square farmers market and just get a roasted chicken from Whole Foods as the main. After all, how much difference could there be? As long as the sides were fresh, the store-cooked chicken should be a decent stand-in for home-made, right?

Well, I was totally shocked at how truly terrible the chicken was. While it was a gorgeous golden brown on the outside, it was overcooked to the point of sawdust in the white meat, and it had absolutely zero seasoning. I'm absolutely sure there wasn't a grain of salt anywhere in this bird. I chose the "plain" variety, by the way. I'm scared of what "herb" or especially "lemon pepper" might mean.

I made a jus out of the wings along with some garlic, thyme and a good glug of port, so that made the meat palatable. But is this the norm? I have bought pre-roasted chicken maybe three times in my life, and those I bought at Costco and a local supermarket were more than acceptable. Is this one of the places Whole Foods just drops the ball habitually? Or is it more a symptom of the Union Square location's unbelievable traffic dooming it to half measures?

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  1. i'm not a fan of those store-bought roast chickens anyway - including the ones from Costco everyone seems to love - but i have heard more than one person say that WFM roasted chickens are *too* salty. so i think it may be a store-specific problem..or they were just having an off night.

    1. It's entirely possible you got one that had been sitting there all day. Or someone set the wrong timer or forgot the timer or had the oven on the wrong setting... Any number of things.

      The quality of supermarket chickens is enormously variable and unpredictable depending on time of day, even time of year, and the resultant turnover rate... even which specific employee is making the chickens (actually, that might be the biggest deciding factor of all.)

      Seasoning especially varies according to the employee's personal taste or degree of care or both... unless Whole Foods gets their chickens pre-seasoned, I know those are available. Some stores go so far as to get them shipped in, not only pre-seasoned but pre-loaded in pretty little upright rows on racks ready to toss in the oven. Not much room for error there... but where I used to work, the amount of seasoning was totally up to whichever part-time high-school kid was absentmindedly commandering the seasoning shaker at the time. ;)

      Any store worth its salt (no pun intended) should give you a refund no problem.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Whats_For_Dinner

        I've never had a bad one from Sam's Club. They're enormous, and cost about the same as the tiny size at other local groceries.

      2. fwiw.imho the roast chickens at fairway are pretty good. the more seasoned ones (latin american?) are good. i did not care much for the ones i have had at wf.. but you would think it would be possible to buy a good one as they are now conveniently boxed and ready to go just about everywheres. about the only place that doesn't have them is the bank, and if they thought they could make some money- ta da the cluck and buck

        1. I've had one here in the Greater Boston area and found it nice looking but dry. I'm not sure but I think "plain" means unseasoned with those things so they might be off the hook for that. Someone on the Boston Boards a while back observed they seem to gear their seaoning of prepared foods in general "for toddlers" which I found both funny and true.

          1. In general, I feel all the prepared foods @ whole foods are under seasoned......while all the food looks does not taste great. Their policy must be to take the safe route to appease the masses.

            3 Replies
            1. re: fourunder

              I am surprised the chicken did not say on the label when it was Packaged. Like another said, maybe you picked one that had been sitting just a hare longer than necessary. Hence, the dryness. But the other factors mentioned could be to blame as well..

              1. re: fourunder

                I don't like WF's roasted chicken, and I don't like their prepared sausages - I really wanted to, because no one makes fresh sausage in my neck of the woods. But the sausage was too lean, to the point of being almost crumbly....

                1. re: jeanmarieok

                  I agree completely with you on the sausages. In my part, there is no shortage of sausage makers and pork store /butchers. If the correct ratio of meat to fat is not correct(too lean), the sausage is not very good. I find also that too coarse of a grind of the meat results in hard and dry sausage as well. I like brands or makers of sausages that double grind the meat more fine more preferable to my tastes.