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Dec 1, 2010 09:12 PM

Why restaurants use white meat instead of dark in North America (split from Ontario)

[Note from moderator: this was split from the following thread:


He probably isn't using it because North Americans usually seem to like the leaner white meat. The reason for that is most likely that they can be served a large breast portion that is easily de-boned. I'd say most don't want to see bones in the chicken or fish, but in some countries the presence of bones is not such a challenge.

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  1. Having spoken to both the owners of Tabla (now closed) and Amaya the main reason white meat is served is that most NA’s demand it for health reasons. Demand for white meat not only exceeds dark meat, but there are complaints if white meat is not used. I don’t think bones should be an issue. Meats can always “stew” with bone in and the chef can “strip off’ the meat near the end. Of course this takes more time.

    In addition to dark meat and bones adding far greater flavour, I'm waiting for a restaurant that proudly serves "day old curry". Curries cooked properly (i.e. with the dark boned meat stewing in the curry) always taste better the next day after refrigeration. I understand of course that from a marketing perspective this would not sound appealing to most people. However it’s a practice I wish more Indian restaurants would use.

    1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

    4 Replies
    1. re: Apprentice

      Some Chowhounds claim not to like the taste of dark meat. I have a chowfriend who refuses to eat dark meat under any circumstances, reacting to the presence of dark meat the same way some cilantro-haters react when cilantro shows up in a dish unannounced.

      On the other hand, I rarely eat white meat, unless it's chopped up and smothered in some sort of sauce, or I've roasted a whole chicken.

      Maybe CC can consider offering white meat, dark meat, or bone-in options, similar to the way some WI restaurants offer their roti, at different price-points. I have a feeling they'll have to keep a white meat option on their menu, to keep North Toronto happy.

      1. re: phoenikia

        I like dark chicken meat as long as the chef excises all the tendons and gristle from the joint cuts. The only tendon I like is beef tendon in my Pho.

      2. re: Apprentice

        I find it hard to believe that they only serve white meat for health reasons. If so, what accounts for so many people eating chicken wings and burgers, and all sorts of unhealthy food? If NA's were so interested in eating only lean meat, we wouldn't see so many overweight people walking around, would we? When I wrote my initial response yesterday, I had actually written that many people don't like meat and fish to have any taste, and that is why they like white meat. Then I removed that part. I really don't know what the real reason is, but personally I think it has to do with many "long time" Canadians liking rather bland meat and fish. They like the flavouring to be from stuff they add on the outside, such as sauces, condiments, etc. That also explains why so many of them don't eat lamb, or if they do, it's only "Ontario lamb". Now I know this may all sound silly, but it's my opinion based on how I see it.

        1. re: foodyDudey

          I wouldn't generalize whether a CH likes a certain cut/type of meat by whether or not he/she/ or his/her parents/grandparents/great-grandparents grew up in the Old Country or the New World, foodyDudey ;-) Plenty of "long-time" NA's appreciate a bucket of fried chicken, whether it's filled with legs, wings or breasts, and my guess is that the drumsticks would disappear first.

          While many of my most openminded Chowfriends are the children of immigrants, my pickiest friends also happen to be the children of immigrants.Their 60something parents will eat any type of meat/seafood, especially since they were impoverished when they were young, and their Canadian-born 30something children stick to chicken breast, pork and beef, and refuse to eat lamb, goat, seafood, etc. I have other 30something friends who immigrated to Canada as children, and as teenagers they shunned their parents' home cooking, and professed their love for KD and PB & J, mostly as a way to fit in with their classmates, as far as I can tell. I also know 70something landed immigrants who stick to chicken breast and salad when they dine out.

          I organized a group dinner at a Polish restaurant a few years ago, and it was interesting to see that the 6th generation Southerner ordered the combo plate with the works (schnitzel, cabbage rolls, perogies, 3 different salads), as did my 3rd generation WASP buddy from Thunder Bay, and my Jamaican-Canadian friend turned her nose up at my borscht (the colour is disturbing!), was too conservative to try the chicken schnitzel (which I had recommended to her, describing it as a Chicken McNugget), and ordered the dried-out grilled chicken breast. On the other hand, her Jamaican-Canadian husband is one of the most open-minded Chowfriends I have. I'm inclined to think my friend that likes to order chicken breast does so because she likes chicken breast, not because her grandparents happen to live in Jamaica.

          I like ON lamb because most of the Australian and New Zealand lamb I've purchased in ON smells rancid, not because ON lamb lacks flavour. ON lamb has a sweeter flavour that I prefer. I also don't like the idea of eating lamb that was slaugthered on a ship on its way to market.

          an overweight long-time Canadian who prefers healthy food, dark meat and ON lamb.

      3. That is correct and true, especially of moderately-priced family restaurants and higher-end restaurants. It goes back to a colloquial regional preferance; white meat is seen as preferable to dark meat. I don't know where that comes from. It's clear that dark meat has a much more flavorsome taste - but re: my own cooking preferences, if I'm making chicken salad I want some mayo-absorbing white meat; if it's w/ peanut sauce, give me thighs any day.

        1. Most Americans adore food put through the deflavorizing machine. Food fears abound. White meat chicken-only is a result of this. This is also why franchises thrive everywhere. People desperately want to know before they step into a restaurant exactly what to expect. And they are willing to eat junk to make sure of this. This is also why most Americans go see movies when the lengthy promos give away almost every detail of the movie or have childlike, predictable plots. Kick the dog, pet the dog.

          1. I have lived in the UK for over 10 years. Never have I once eaten in an Indian restaurants that served me 'boneless white meat' in their 'sauced dishes'! If the chefs here in N.A are serious with their cooking, they should stick with their roots and tradition and churn out the 'real stuff' using the 'most flavourful' approaches and cooking methods and ingredients! If bones and dark meat are needed to create the best tasting authentic dishes then so be it! Why should they sacrifice their professionalism in order to satisfy the picky and spoiled palette of some ' foreigner locals'!

            1. That old Canadian staple, Swiss Chalet, charges extra for white meat.

              I prefer chicken stews and curry on the bone. I don't like goat curry where the meat has been randomly sent through a saw and you end up with lots of slivers of bone hidden in the meat.

              I was in the UK this summer and had some very good and very bad Indian food there. Butter chicken as sweet and bland as coconut cream pie with dried out white meat off the bone seems to be popular.

              1 Reply
              1. re: hal2010

                Yeah, that goat meat is cut frozen, into cubes. Fortunately I can get fresh goat stewing meat for the same price in Parc-Extension (now a neighbourhood with many South Asian restaurants and groceries) in Montréal.

                As for the tasteless white meat: more dark meat for us!