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What the heck happed to Chicken?


It's 2012 and truthfully, I hate it when I go to buy Chicken now. You might be asking yourself why? Well, I'll tell ya.

I like Chicken Breast above all else in the fowl category.

And remember, these are my preferences, breast, for me is a 10 out of 10, thighs are about 6 out of 10, legs and wings are about a 4 out of 10.

But is not a debate about which is better.

It's a complaint about how, stores in general, SELL chicken. The "industry" so to speak.

It's almost impossible to find nice fresh Chicken Breasts with skin on them!

I can find wings with skin ... and what's the ratio of skin vs. meat on a wing, or a leg or a thigh?

The one cut of meat that I really like, that has the absolute lowest ratio of skin to meat, is the breast and there's not a breast w/skin for miles.

Why do I like the skin? The crispity, crunchity FLAVOR of course.

Chickens in 2012 need all the help they can get! They don't taste anything like I remember Chicken from the 50's, 60's, 70's and part of the 80's.

Why? Because chickens are mass produced, they mature in 3 minutes and grow to full weight in about 2.5 hours ... its no wonder there's no taste. Yeah, I know I exaggerated a little, but they do mature and get fatter in a much shorter time than they used to with all of the genetic enhancements and hormone additives.

Are people so fracking lazy that they can't pull the skin off of the breast that they have forced the industry to do it for us?

But then what about people like me that like the skin? Most stores package the Chicken and put it on the shelf and I have to tell you it's really frustrating to walk past package after package of wings, legs, and thighs with skin and 30+ packages of breast meat w/out the skin.

Your thoughts?

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  1. That's too bad... in our stores, we can find breasts in many forms, bone-in/skin-on, boneless/skinless, tenders, frozen in varieties as well.
    Maybe it's the area you live in, the demand?

    1. Ditto here. The two megamarts and the Trader Joe's within walking distance have breasts with or without skin.
      Mebbe you need to find a butcher close to you...?

      1. Your only hope is to find free-range chickens somewhere. Cut off the breasts and cook them for yourself. Serve the other parts to the kids. Or the neighbors. Or use them for soup.

        1. I used to buy breasts with the bone in a lot because DH liked them, but I actually prefer dark meat, so currently, I buy two whole chickens each week. However, once in a while, I'd like to throw couple of breasts on the grill, so I can relate.

          My biggest complaint used to be that supermarkets sold breasts that were cut square with a saw, and didn't actually separate a whole breasts properly. Properly cut breasts are triangular in shape and follow the natural shape of the breast.. Now, I am greatful to find them. Even Costco discontinued them at my local store for a while last year, choosing to sell only skinless, boneless breasts, which don't nearly have the flavor that chicken on the bone does.

          1. I suspect it's a supply and demand thing - chicken breasts are by far the most popular part of the chicken, and the boneless-skinless variety is the most popular type of chicken breast.

            If I buy chicken breasts at the supermarket, I can get boneless skinless breasts cut in various sizes, skin on chicken legs, whole or chopped, skin on chopped half chickens, and skin on wings, plus gizzards and hearts. At the traditional market, the default is double breast, skin on, with or without the bone, whole wings, whole hind-quarters, half chicken (cut lengthwise) and whole chicken, plus various heads, feet and internal organs. They'll chop or trim it however I want, though - skin it, joint it, hack it into pieces with a cleaver, etc. The market chicken is way better than the supermarket stuff in taste, too. [As an aside, at the pork stalls, you can choose your pork and fat and have them grind it for you, which is nice.]

            1. In my area, (Houston), you can get either bone-in, skin-on, or boneless and skinless.

              I don't think I've ever even seen bone-in and skinless or boneless, skin-on.

              (I know that doesn't help. I was just feeling chatty.)

              1. a) Learn to break down a chicken -- then you have all the chicken parts you want, cut exactly the way you like them.

                b) Selling boneless, skinless breasts is not so much a response to the market as a way to squeeze a little more cash out of the public...next time you're at the store, compare the prices of whole chickens, cut-up chickens, whole breasts, skinless breasts, and boneless-skinless breasts.

                The stores are making a mindblowing amount of money by pulling the skin off of the pieces.

                3 Replies
                1. re: sunshine842

                  LOL, I've been "breaking down" chickens, and going out on a limb, maybe longer than you have been alive. Yes I am aware of the prices; boneless vs bone in vs whole chickens.

                  Where I live (in Mexico) the selections in the supermarkets or the ghastly street markets are not that great. It's a third world country with quirky, weird ways. These people take the protective skin off of onions and that pretty much guarantees that you'll get an onion with mold on the inside fairly frequently.

                  My point is that there is no savings to buying an entire chicken w/legs and thighs that I really don't want to eat. Sure I can make chicken soup, chicken and dumplings etc. But my FAVORITE (and this is what its all about, my post, MY favorite type of fried chicken is the breast with the skin on it) I noticed this when I lived in the Mid West, where selections are not that great either that there was a disproportionate amount of skinless breasts vs breasts w/skin on.
                  About half and half were bone vs boneless.

                  My other point is I NEVER saw, chicken breasts sold with the skin off at all during the 50's, 60's or 70's. I can't remember when it started. Some goofy health craze or wacko food X-Pert started it.

                  1. re: wizarddrummer

                    It is all the hype about healthy food. More people these days buy the breast without skin because they think the fat in the skin is unhealthy for them. Then probably turn around and gulp down a couple of litres of coke :o

                    1. re: wizarddrummer

                      I don't follow. You don't buy a whole chicken because it has parts that you don't eat. Why shouldn't other people prefer to buy the breast without the parts that they don't eat (skin, bones)? They aren't any more lazy than you.

                      In the USA there preparations that glorify the chicken skin, such as whole roasted chicken and fried chicken. I can't think of equivalents in traditional Mexican cooking. In my experience, Mexican chicken dishes are mostly soups and stews. Even with mole, the sauce is served over chicken meat, not the whole bird. I'm less sure about how modern chicken breasts are used. They might still be cut up and eaten in a sopa de fideos, or maybe pan fried and served with rajas con crema. Or poached and shredded, and mixed with a sauce.

                  2. Your problem must be a regional or local thing - here in CT I've never had any trouble finding chicken breasts with skin. (Granted, they're always bone-in, which is my preference. I don't think I've ever seen boneless breasts with skin, but I've never seen boneless thighs with skin either.)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: benbenberi

                      Yup- I am in CT too and can always find breasts, thighs, or whatever cut with skin.

                    2. It's a combination of whatever area you live in, plus supply & demand.

                      Around here, I can buy pretty much any part of the chicken I want - bone-in/off, skin-on/off, etc., etc. Wings, thighs, drumstick quarters, "drummettes" (drums minus thighs), etc. etc. Same goes for turkey, & now even duck parts are hitting the market.

                      As far as the prevalence of boneless, skinless breasts, that's simply a major answer to follks wanting to eat healthier & cut out as much fat as possible from their protein sources, as well as wanting quick-cook cuts. Boneless, skinless breasts, tenders, & cutlets fill that niche admirably.

                      You have only two choices: Ask your local markets if they can stock or order the parts you want, or learn how to deconstruct a whole chicken (really not difficult at all, plus you end up with a lovely carcass to make soup stock from).

                      1. My regular supermarket, like all supermarkets here, sell organic and free range chicken as well as the factory produced stuff. It's usually sold skin on.

                        1. I agree on every point and I switched to ducks about 9 months ago and I'm loving them.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Veggo

                            My problem with ducks is that it's all but impossible for me to find ones that are free range or organic, whereas high welfare chicken is readily available everywhere.

                            1. re: Harters

                              I've purchased quite a few ducks & duck products (also pheasant, guinea hen, etc., etc.) from D'Artagnan over the years & have never been disappointed. Quality is excellent, & the birds all come from humane environments. Pricey, but worth it.


                              1. re: Bacardi1

                                That's good information for some but not for Harters as he is on the other side of the great big duck pond called the Atlantic ocean....

                                1. re: Bacardi1

                                  Game birds are never a problem here as, unlike generally on the western side of the Pond, locally shot wild game is not prohibited from sale. So, pheasant, pigeon and wild duck (like mallards) are easily obtained from the farmers market and supermarkets but it's the big juicy ducks, like the Gressinghams, that I can only buy factory produced.


                                  The dartagnan prices are terribly expensive, aren't they? Pheasant at $30 !!!! No wonder not many Americans seem to eat game. Here, they would be about £4.50 - just over $7.

                                  1. re: Harters

                                    Sorry Harters - didn't realize you were in the UK.

                                    But yes - D'Artagnan's prices are high, but they frequently have sales, as well as free-shipping promotions, & when they do, we like to treat ourselves to something our local markets may not carry.

                                    Another plus for us is that a small local gourmet market just opened up, & they not only carry many D'Artagnan products, but also will special-order anything that you want that D'Artagnan carries to save one the shipping charges. Haven't used them yet, but do plan to give it a try, as I'm interested in trying the "duck proscuitto".

                            2. So, here's a thought. Why don't you ask the butcher (whether a dedicated butcher shop or the butcher in the grocery store) to cut you some breasts and leave the skin on? Seems you're making it harder than it needs to be.

                              1. In the past I lived in places where it was hard to find breasts with the skin on - since it was a small market area and many people who were eating breast meat also wanted skinless/boneless breast. In fact it was hard to find anything BUT boneless/skinless meat if you didn't want to buy a whole chcken.
                                This is not unique to chicken, for example, trying to find any cut of bone-in beef in the supermarket is very difficult, except for porterhouse and the occasional bone in rib-eye. Bone in chuck? Forget it.
                                But these days I find most places have a wide variety of choices for all different parts of the ckicken. At whole foods, I can even find a package of just backs, which I love for making chicken broth.

                                I find most grocery store chicken these day to be gross, injected with solutions that make them mushy and almost mealy, and tasting of unnatural chemicals.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: PenskeFan

                                  Up to 15% solution in some cases. They claim the solution is all "Natural". OK, sure! So is crude oil!