Have you noticed that shopping for chicken has almost become a science project these days? You almost need to be versed in ‘chicken speak’ to understand exactly what they mean by natural, free-range, and organic. Well nowadays I have been hearing all about air-chilled chicken, especially about how air-chilled chickens are supposed to be much tastier than conventional chickens. Unlike traditional processing, this method does not add water, so air chilling the meat keeps the “real” chicken flavor and juices. Since no water is absorbed, you get only the natural flavor of chicken.
After searching around, I finally found air-chilled chicken in my supermarket and of course I had to try it. So here I am, sharing my air-chilled roasted chicken recipe. In one word: DELICIOUS!
1 whole air-chilled chicken
1 red onion
3 celery sticks
Cut red onions in quarters and stuff the chicken with onions and celery. Then, using a roasting pan and rack, roast the chicken at 400 Degrees F for 30 minutes until it browns beautifully. Then lower the temperature to 350 and continue roasting for another 30 minutes. Check internal temperature for doneness (should be at 165 degrees F).
More about air-chilled chickens:
Conventionally raised chickens are typically dunked in ice. This means that after a chicken is slaughtered, the USDA requires that the chicken’s temperature be lowered within four hours to under 40 degrees in order to retard the growth of bacteria. For the majority of chicken in this country, that means water chilling where the birds are put into a large communal vat of chlorinated ice water to bring down their body temperatures — about an hour long process.
In contrast, air-chilling takes about three hours. After the chickens are slaughtered, and sprayed with chlorinated water inside and out, they are whisked one by one along a mile or more of track through chambers in which they are misted with cold air. Air Chill helps inhibit the spread of bacteria by keeping all of the chickens independent, and saves 30,000 gallons of chlorinated water every day!
In the US today, only a handful of smaller plants use the air-chilling process, a production method that is just beginning to catch on in the mainstream.
More chicken lingo:
Fresh poultry: Internal temperature has not been below 26 degrees.
Frozen poultry: Internal temperature is 0 degrees or lower.
Natural: Contains no artificial ingredients or added color and is only minimally processed (a process that does not fundamentally alter the raw product). It has nothing to do with how the chickens were raised.
No hormones: In the U.S., the use of hormones is not allowed when raising chickens. Therefore, the claim “no hormones added” cannot be used on the labels of chicken unless it is followed by a statement that says “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.”
No antibiotics: The term “no antibiotics added” may be used on labels for chicken products if the producer documents that the animals were raised without antibiotics.
Organic: Fed organic feed, which may not contain any animal or poultry slaughter by products. Animals must have access to outdoors. No antibiotics.