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small chickens

Where do people recommend for the purchase of small chickens (ie 2-3 pounds)? Most new chicken recipes call for this weight however every chicken in the store is almost always in the 4-6 pound range. Thanks.

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  1. Call any Metropolitan Market to see if they can get them for you. Another poster was able to score vension via a special order from them and only had to wait a few days to get it.

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    1. Stokesberry Farms sells lovely whole chickens. They are pasture-raised. The sizes vary. Here's where to buy them: http://www.stokesberrysustainablefarm...

      1. I think we should ask why you need such small chickens. You can usually find chickens around 3.5 lbs in the supers, but even at 4 lbs or so the recipe won't change, especially if the chicken is cut up. If roasting whole you want bigger chickens, as the flavor is more developed and many people believe you get a better ratio of meat to bone with bigger birds.

        Then there is the cost. Chickens at the specialty vendor listed above are six bucks a pound. That's obscene highway robbery, IMO. At those prices you could buy four 5-lb birds on sale at your local QFC for less than the price of one three-lb bird.

        If you really want/need very small birds, you could consider game hens, which are usually about 1.5 lbs each. But just being persistent and digging through the bins a little should yield you the birds you like. Also helps to ask the meat clerk if they have any smaller ones in the back -- they usually do.

        13 Replies
        1. re: acgold7

          There is a camp that believes for roasting, it's best to use very small chickens. That way, you can keep the cooking time fast and at a very high temperature, which means a more succulent end result. The Zuni Café Cookbook, for example, calls for chickens this size.

          OP: you might consider calling University Seafood & Poultry to see if they have them?

          1. re: acgold7

            "Obscene highway robbery"??? Please, give me a break. Start with comparing apples to apples, That is, compare birds raised in the same sort of conditions with a similar diet -- and thus a similar taste. I've had the Stokesberry chickens and they are great meat.

            If $6/lb is more than you think the Stokesberry chickens are worth, that's fine. If you know of similar quality chickens for much less, please let us know. But spare us the needless hyperbole.

            1. re: seattle_lee

              In this economy, everyone is worried about the cost per pound. I agree with acgold that $6/lb for chicken is ridiculous. Glad you can afford it, but not all of us can choose to be frivolous.

              1. re: firecracker

                I don't eat their chicken every day, but as a special occasion dish, I think it far outshines grocery store prime rib, steak, or a number of rather pricier meats. So I think your "$6/lb FOR CHICKEN is ridiculuous" is again throwing the Stokesberry chicken into a category where you are comparing apples to oranges. You've thrown it into the "everyday chicken" category where it emphatically doesn't belong. Now if you want to argue that $6/lb for meat is ridiculous, I might disagree with you, but you are at least barking up the right tree.

                In any case, there are a number of folks here who routinely speak about going to restaurants well above my price range. That's fine -- I dine out for cheap but splurge on home ingredients. Everyone makes their own tradeoffs. But judgmental terms like 'frivolous' and 'highway robbery' aren't conducive to a reasonable conversation.

                1. re: seattle_lee

                  One thing we know is that if you know what you are doing and prepare the bird properly, there is no difference in taste or nutrition between regular chickens and designer chickens. If you feel you must pay exorbitant prices -- like those who pay seven bucks a pound for Turkey instead of 19 cents -- you are doing it for political reasons and to feel good about yourself. More power to you.

                  However, if your only concerns are culinary, there is never any reason to pay more than 79 cents a pound whenever birds go on sale at your local market, or about a buck every day at Costco.

                  I wish I could come up with a scam like that. There will always be people with more money than common sense.

                  1. re: acgold7

                    Please give me references to the studies by which we "know" these things.

                    1. re: seattle_lee

                      You need a study to eat a chicken and know how it tastes? On the contrary, I'm still looking for any data that supports the notion that designer chickens taste better or are better for you. So far there is none, and every article that pops up in the papers from time to time confirms this.

                      Google is our friend in this case. I think the burden of proof here is on those who want us to spend eight times as much as necessary. If you can justify the cost, that's great. I'm not trying to persuade you not to do what makes you feel good -- only that it isn't strictly, logically, necessary.

                      1. re: acgold7

                        Ah, OK. In other words, we don't actually "know" this. Fair enough.

                        1. re: seattle_lee

                          Oh, just go to Cook's Illustrated and read the many, many articles they've done on this.

                        2. re: acgold7

                          ACGold, I respectfully report that chickens raised by small producers/ family farms -or my neighbors yard, for that matter - taste incredibly different than a factory-farmed shrink-wrapped supermarket roaster hen that on sale can cost $69 cents per lb.

                          I am not debating cost here (that is a personal decision by anyone about where to put their money), but FLAVOR. A chicken that eats grass, bugs, weeds, flowers, herbs as part of their natural chicken life is going to have more flavor than one that lived in a cage most of it's life and ate crappy commercial feed.

                          Also, the common commercial chicken breed is a relatively homogenous bird raised for fast growth and a big breast, not for it's prime flavor qualities. Its main thing is how fast can I grow up to get to your dinner plate?

                          Ask the French, if different chickens taste different; they who label all chickens with their breed and where they are raised by law. Different chickens taste different.

                          Of course, how you cook it makes a big difference in juicyness, etc. which are the kinds of things CI adresses in most of thier articles, not the provenance of the chicken.

                          Since eggs make chickens, let's extrapolate that fresh eggs from a small farm, which have been proven to have more flavor and nutrition than a standard USDA grade A egg.... I would expect that a chicken who made that egg tastes better and has more nutrition than a standard USDA broiler/fryer.

                          Article: http://polyfacehenhouse.com/2012/01/f...

                          1. re: gingershelley

                            Not to turn this into a discussion on the relative merits of fancy local producers vs. factory farmed foods (which will no doubt be flagged by the Chowhound overlords), but I don't think this is as cut and dried as you'd think.

                            I remembered this specific article about fancy, homegrown and regular eggs.
                            http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

                            I'll fully admit my biases being a 69 cents a pound chicken guy, who believes in preparation and technique to bring out the best tastes.

                            1. re: GreenYoshi

                              Well, at least you can't argue with the study I posted that the home-grown egg had more nutrients in it:)

                              I think a combination of nature and nurture is probably key; if you cook a 69 a lb. chicken and know what your doing, I am sure it will be better than any poorly cooked heritage chicken. Nothing worse than dry stringy poultry!

                              And the discussion will continue, as long as we have the Farm-to-table movement - which is a GREAT thing - and concerns over industrial food production. Eating mindfully can never be a bad thing. It can just get expensive.

              2. Bob's Quality Meats on South Rainier has nice birds that are typically 3-4 pounds.

                The Stokesberry birds are a step up in quality at twice the price.

                1. We keep kosher in our house and at U Village QFC you can buy a whole uncooked chicken as of last week for about $3.30 a pound. The chickens are typically under 4 pounds. The chickens are full of flavor and have more fat then their non kosher options. Do with it what you want but enjoy the taste!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Bethwick

                    Do you simply roast the chicken or how do you prep it, Bethwick?

                  2. I was at a Chinese grocery in Bellevue and they had several small chickens labeled 'stewing chickens'. Maybe check out your local Chinese grocer?

                    1. Met Market in lower QA had organic three-pounders this week.