PGH Free Range Whole Chicken: Sources? Don't like some "supermarket" birds anymore :(
I've started to buy roast chicken weekly (3-5lb). One usually lasts me the whole week, I usually butcher one and cook the dark meat first then save and cook the raw white meat daily.
I never was one to buy "organic" or "free range" chicken, even though I already knew that I preferred free range grain fed chicken eggs. Once at whole foods I saw their chicken on sale for 1.69/lb so I bought one. I decided that this was a good idea so I started buying whole chickens more. One time I was in G.Eagle looking to buy some steak (I try to get NY Strip or Ribeyes there when on sale) and I saw G.Eagle chickens for .89 cents a pound or less. I bought one, cooked it, and was rather disappointed. Same method as before but where was the taste? I've since tried another GEagle chicken with the same result. I reckon I could brine it and get a better result, but I'm a student, I don't want to go through that. I was now a "convert" - and believe me, I am not one that would just pretend that the free range sometimes air-chilled birds are better...I genuinely wish it weren't the case so I could save my cash!
Anyway, I was wondering where people here in Pittsburgh usually got theirs. I got "lucky" last week and scored a Bell and Evans bird at GEagle for 1.99/lb. It was/is yummy. I don't really want to pay more than 1.99/lb. I've yet to try the "natures basket" line at G.Eagle, nor have I tried any of the local co-op's. I think I'll probably try one of those or a farmers market next weekend if I get the time.
So..where to you get your free range/grain fed/airchilled/whatever chickens, how much do you pay, do you think I'm crazy for not just getting the .69-.89 cent/lb generic chickens? Also, has anyone tried the natures basket birds at GEagle? Thoughts? lol
Good tasting chicken is an all too rare treat these days, but I'm finding more and more of the "good stuff" now.
I'm pretty much ruined for the Bell and Evans too. I suppose they're a little better tasting than the generic, but not as much as the price would make you think. I mostly buy B&E more for the "sustainability" factor when I don't have anything else.
Our favorite birds are still the ones from the Kretschmann's CoOp (Steve Misra) - http://www.kretschmannfarm.com/ - A little expensive, but worth every cent as far as I'm concerned.
I've also been impressed with the chicken from Mish Farms. Not sure if they're still there, but they used to set up at the Monday afternoon/evening East Liberty Farmers market (the one inside the Penn Circle). Don't remember seeing whole birds there, but I'm sure they'd bring some if you asked ahead.
I've also enjoyed the product from Kennedy Farms at the Saturday morning market next to Home Depot. It's been a while since I've had it, but seems like it was always pretty solid, but perhaps not fully organic/free-range/etc. Make sure you get there early.
Hope this helps.
Duke - I think chicken is a case of getting what you pay for. Having said that, I was a student as well, and I remember how little I had to spend on groceries at the time. But natural chicken undeniably better than its commercial, genetically modified counterpart, both in theory and in taste. If you can afford to do so, continue buying the good stiuff - your body, your local farmer, and the earth with thank you.
Ditto on thoughts from Kretschmann's CoOp. Great birds.
The Liberty Farms chicken sold at the Farmarket at the Firehouse in the Strip (which opens for the season next Saturday) are also great. Pricey. Check out my posting about it: http://thedish-pgh.blogspot.com/2009_....
I've heard good things about Eichner's Market (Wexford) having fresh chickens, but I haven't been there yet.