Chickens are mostly classified according to their best use: Broiler-fryers are up to 3 1/2 pounds, 2 1/2 months old. Roasters (have greater fat content so better roasted) are 2 1/2 - 5 pounds, up to 8 months old. Stewing chickens, aka hens, boiling fowl, and fowl, are 3-6 pounds, 10-18 months old. A capon is a rooster castrated before 8 weeks, up to 10 months old, 4-10 pounds with large tender breasts from a fattening diet, perfect for roasting. Rock Cornish game hens are hybrid of Cornish and White Rock chickens which are up to 2 1/2 pounds, between 4 and 6 weeks old (because of their small size they are often served one per person). Squab chicken, aka poussin in French, are not squab, but are small less than 1 1/2 pound chickens, between 4 and 6 weeks old. Cocks and roosters are older, tougher birds, best of soups and broths. Free-range chickens are guaranteed 2 square foot of space each indoors and freedom to roam outside (as opposed to mass-produced chickens which only have 1 square foot on indoor space), and are often fed a special diet free of antibiotics, growth enhanders or hormones, which is said to give them a better flavor.
Season: available year-round
How to select: Available fresh or frozen, whole or in parts or ground. Look for meaty chickens with smooth soft skin (skin color differs depending on the breed and diet, so is not a good indication of quality).
How to store: Remove from tight plastic wrap and store in waxed paper to prevent bacterial growth. Keep in the coldest part of the refrigerator for up to 2 days or cooked up to 3 days. Keeps frozen up to 2 months.
How to prepare: Handle raw chicken carefully and never eat raw. Wash all tools, surfaces and hands which touch raw chicken thoroughly with soap before they come in contact with anything else. Cook chicken to an internal temperature of 180 degrees F. bake, braise, broil, fry, grill, marinate, roast, saute
Matches well with: almonds, apples, asparagus, bacon, barbecue sauce, basil, bread crumbs, cheese, cherries, chives, cider, coconut, Cognac, coriander, corn, cranberries, cream, curry, dill, fennel, five-spice powder, garlic, ginger, grapes, herbs, horseradish, lemon, lime, marjoram, mint, mushrooms, mustard, nutmeg, olive oil, olives, onions, oranges, oregano, Parmesan cheese, parsley, peas, pecans, pineapple, rosemary, savory, sour cream, soy sauce, stuffings, star anise, sweet potatoes, tarragon, teriyaki sauce, thyme, tomatoes, vinegar, walnuts, wine, yogurt