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Poultry: Yielding The Perfect Yardbird

Barbecue poultry includes whole chickens, chicken cuts, whole turkey, turkey cuts and all game birds. It is very important to know what type of cuts and sizes to purchase and which type are best suited to the recipe that you'll be using.

Spring chickens are 1 to 1 ½ pounds and are about 35 days old. Broilers are 2 pounds and are around 40 days old. Fryers are 2 to 4 pounds and approximately 45 days old. Roasters are 4 to 5 pounds and are 45-60 days old. Some stores carry free range chickens that are raised on farms where no antibiotics or hormones are introduced into the feed or the animal itself. So now that we know our chicks, let's look at what's good for what.

Roasters, my personal favorite, are great for slow smoking or rotisserie. Expect 4 to 6 hours at 200 to 210 degrees to get good results. When preparing, here are some tips to enhance flavor. First, marinate it in Italian dressing for about 3 to 4 hours in the fridge. Then take your favorite spices or rubs and apply them to the outside. If you don't have a favorite, simply use some seasoned salt. You might want to mix in some brown sugar in a 2:1 ratio with the seasoned salt. Try some Cajun spice or rub for a little kick in the chick. There are lots of choices. Another place you want to apply the spice is under the skin. I suggest using rubber gloves when working with poultry to avert possible contamination. Work your fingers under the skin, breaking it away from the meat. This puts your spices under the skin and into the meat itself. For a little extra flavor you can inject the chicken. Injectors can be found at most grocery stores and look like large hypodermic needles. Use some of your rub mixed with chicken broth and inject into the breast and thigh region of the chicken. Some other choices for injections are orange juice, apple juice, Dijon mustard and/or peach schnapps. Just remember: don't over inject or your meal might come out mushy.

Chicken can be flavored to fit your needs. It can be spicy, tangy or sweet. It can be sweetened with fruits, jellies and glazes. Chicken is also inexpensive. Until next time, enjoy.


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