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Looking for a whole chicken, complete with head and feet intact

Hi,

I think this may be more for asian chowhounders. We celebrate chinese folk religion (I never knew that was a religion until a few years ago). For years I thought we were buddhists, then taoists but turns out it's chinese folk religion. We've never really talked about the religious aspects, and things we practice are more cultural (food, offerings).

For ceremonial offerings we always get the whole chicken (within the chinese culture, having the whole chicken including head and feet symbolize a good beginning a good end, it's a philosophy).

Anyways, it's been really hard finding whole chickens intact in Chinatown and really in asian grocers. Long time ago we could get them at Kensington market where they slaughtered them fresh. Now when we get them the necks are all out of tact and sometimes the necks are broken. If anyone is familiar with poultry practices, they say this is the more humane way of slaughtering the chickens but is that true?

Does anyone know where I can find whole chickens like the ones I've described? We get old chickens as opposed to young chickens.

Gone to T&T and other places and it's hard to come by when they aren't all mutilated. I'm guessing the GTA doesn't have alot of buddhists or taoists that celebrate offerings during festivals?

Any help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks

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  1. T&T...oops missed your last paragraph. Ignore.

    1. No clue where you are in the GTA but Maple Lodge Farms factory outlet might have them, along with Oceans--both far west GTA(Brampton+Miss.).

      1. Grand Fortune Supermarket at market village has a lot of head/feet on poultry. They usually have a lot of fresh game birds too with head/feet attached. Here is their flyer that shows a guniea hen http://www.flyermall.com/web/flyer/fl...

        T&T should have whole chickens too, usually frozen, but sometimes fresh and not that mutilated...

        2 Replies
        1. re: Pigurd

          Thanks for the flyer, will check them out.

          T&T has whole chickens but they are usually frozen and the fresh ones aren't that nice. Looking for chickens that are intact, most of the times the necks are in bad shape because of the machine used to slaughter.

          1. re: flonie

            My mom always get the free run chicken from Grand Fortune with head and feet intact all year round.
            And thanks for letting me know that the religion my grand parents practice is chinese folk religion. I was like you, first thought it's buddhists and then taoists, lol

        2. Have you tried Kensington Poultry on Dundas just west of Spadina?

          4 Replies
          1. re: MissBingBing

            Yes, some of their chickens don't seem that fresh.

            1. re: flonie

              Forgive my religious ignorance, but does a ceremonial offering chicken have to be fresh and in perfect shape?
              Just curious, thanks.

              1. re: porker

                Not in perfect shape, but you don't want something mangled.

                When I say mangled, I mean a broken neck with all the skin torn off.

                You can akin it to going to buy a roast chicken for Christmas eve dinner that your serving for your whole family. Would you want to serve one with all the skin torn up or maybe one of the leg's is dis-jointed on that special occassion? If you could help it, you'd get the best one wouldn't you?

                When I mean fresh, I don't mean breathing a few minutes ago. I'm talking something that looks good. If you wanted to buy a roast for sunday dinner, you'd want a nice looking roast that looked fresh or would you want a discolored one?

                You want something that is presentable so that you are sincere in the food your present in the offering. After the gods have eaten, then man eat.

                Hope that explains it

          2. St Andrews Poultry should be able to supply you with this!

            1 Reply
            1. re: justsayn

              Yep, no luck. There's also a place across the street on Spadina. They occassionally have whole chickens with head and feet but the necks are pretty mutilated and people there aren't very friendly when I'm trying to find a good one.

            2. What about called someone like Clement Poultry? They may be able to help if you order in advance? http://www.stlawrencemarket.com/vendo...

              1. I find them always available at the Asian market on the southeast corner Bayview and Blackmore, in Richmond Hill. They have quite a variety...

                1. Aye yah, The Grand Fortune food mart at the Market Village mall has what you require, most of the time the other supermarket at the other end of the mall has some too. Often both stock free range and grain fed. But I think early bird shopping is necessary as inventory can run low before mid day on high demand items. My housekeeoer informs me that there is no recent shortage of practitioners of traditional Chinese folk religion. Come to think of it, I have combined many Chinese rituals with my Jewish ones since i lived in HK 15 years ago.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: heybaldy

                    Hmmm....do you know of those chickens are old chickens? Maybe I am thinking of free-range. I don't think we get those, something about the texture so we always get the 'old' chickens. I don't know what that means exactly.

                    It's interesting you say lots of people practice chinese folk religion because many of the things that we need to buy for festivals aren't readily available I find. There used to be a time when you could get supplies (joss sticks, money) at supermarkets but now it's far and few between.

                    1. re: flonie

                      Old chickens are just more mature chickens (vs. young chickens). They're bit more chewy compared to young chickens. I find the texture for free-range and old chicken similar.

                      Anyways, my mom practices Chinese folk religion, you'll have to go uptown (meaning to Markham) to find nice whole chickens. Grand Fortune is a good one, there's another Chinese supermarket at the other end of Market Village as well. If not, try Foody Mart at Warden just south of Steeles. The necks are all slit now, but they should still be decent for offerings.

                      Chinatown (both Spadina and Broadview locations) is gentrifying. You should see the Broadview location, so many stores boarded up, it's sad. It's harder to find these things, plus most Chinese people that are coming here are more modern so don't follow these practices.

                      1. re: loodle

                        Oh no, Broadview sounds like a ghost town. I wonder why that area has gone down so much. I think there's still a big chinese population but is it because they go somewhere else? I don't want to go by Broadview now for sure, sigh.

                        I've gone uptown, Markham and Richmond Hill. Foody Mart at Hwy7 has chickens every now and then but the conditions of the necks are pretty bad.

                        I don't know if people being more modern as much as people, pardon the term, buying into other major religons. Off topic but I found back in the day, newer chinese often converted to the church because it was more of a 'social gathering place' that helped them get connected to their new surroundings. With that, traditional practices were lost.

                        I find the whole meal prepping is also losing it's charm because people are always 'on the go' and don't have the time to prepare these things.

                        I wonder if I should tweet Alvin Leung, maybe he was a folk religion practicer! :)

                        1. re: flonie

                          You seem a bit out of touch with the changes in Toronto neighbourhoods. A lot of neighbourhoods are gentrifying due to increase in home values (especially those neighbourhoods close to the city centre). The ethnic neighbourhoods we once knew are now slowly changing. Most Asians immigrating to Toronto are from mainland China and Taiwan now vs. Hong Kong. So you'll see more mainland influence in cuisines in Toronto.

                          But back to your chicken quest, do you have to get one and cook it yourself? Or can it be cooked already? I know when my mom is pressed for time she'll go to the Chinese bbq place and order a whole "white" chicken (I think it's steamed). They come in free range and non free range. Just ask the guy not to cut the chicken for you.

                  2. Have you checked out Kijiji? There are always plenty of chickens for sale, many breeds, ages, live, ready to kill, and some butchered already.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: earthygoat

                      Are you serious or is this a prank?

                      1. re: flonie

                        http://toronto.kijiji.ca/c-pets-lives...

                        you can also check out some farmers markets or flea markets, some have live chickens for sale and i guess you can find a way to kill them that leaves the chicken more presentable. http://www.stouffvillemarket.com/shop....

                        I think i also heard of some place in richmond hill, maybe on beaver creek that had live birds... not sure if still around... think u had to kill/pluck the bird yourself though.

                        1. re: Pigurd

                          " think u had to kill/pluck the bird yourself though." Just curious how many CH'ers are knowledgeable/are willing to undertake the nasty business of killing a chicken leaving its head intact. Count me as knowledgeable/not willing ;-)

                          1. re: T Long

                            can try drowning it in armagnac, would feel less bad than choking it.. or just keep it as pet until it dies of old age, hoping it goes bald along the way.

                            1. re: T Long

                              I have chickens and we do kill them. The most humane way to kill them is to use a very sharp knife, slice its jugular and let it bleed out. If you do not sever the windpipe, the chicken does not panic and just falls "asleep".

                              1. re: earthygoat

                                As kids, most of the chickens we saw dispatched was through neck ringing or a simple ax fall, severing the head. I'm not sure whats more humane, but seeing a headless chicken run around leaves quite the impression on a young person.

                          2. re: flonie

                            I am completely serious. It is just another way to make contact with farmers. There are thousands of people who raise chickens on their properties in Ontario. Yes, there are commercial farmers, but most raise chickens for healthy meat, eggs, or just as a hobby, for their families or extra bit of income. Give Kijiji a try.