Buying From Your Local Butcher: Poultry
How can you shop for the best quality, tastiest meat? What interesting cuts can you buy, and how should you cook them? Buying meat from a butcher can seem a little intimidating when you’re used to picking the same packets of meat off the supermarket shelves, and you might not be sure what to ask for. So we asked an experienced chef about how to buy from a butcher in this four-part blog series.
Simon May has over 18 years experience working as a chef in the hospitality industry. Maintaining close relationships with his suppliers, he ensures to visit local farms and butchers to source the highest quality produce and see where it comes from. Simon has always been invested in sourcing meat and learning how to cut it in order to get the best flavour and quality possible.
Here he tells us everything you need to know about buying poultry. If you haven’t already, check out our interviews with Simon on general tips for buying from a butcher, as well as how to shop for pork and beef.
What should you look for when buying poultry?
Ultimately you want the freshest, best quality poultry. The taste of the poultry boils down to the treatment of the animal, if it’s free range, organic, intensively farmed/mass production. There should be no scent to poultry, it should look plump and have no damaged skin. If poultry is off it’s generally sticky, goes green and has a very strong distinctive smell.
Does corn-fed make a difference?
Poultry generally have a varied diet, they can’t survive on grass alone, so are also fed grain and corn. The taste of the poultry again boils down to the treatment of the animal.
Top cooking tip?
For example when cooking a large whole chicken, it does depend on the weight which determines the cooking time. Season generously with salt, pepper and a little bit of oil for the yummy crispy skin. Adding a lemon inside the chicken keeps the bird tender and juicy.
Tips for sourcing a good Christmas turkey?
I always look for a turkey with a well-rounded breast, this will turn out more flavoursome and very juicy! I would also recommend buying a fresh turkey as it will have a more intense taste over a frozen turkey.
Recommendations for game birds?
My recommendation would be pheasant. It’s healthy to eat and lower in fat, but also rich in flavour. They are also easier to source and buy compared to other game birds. Pheasant is a succulent bird that is exceptionally tender, easy to cook and is a very British dish.
Top budget cut and favourite recipe to make with it?
I would say chicken thighs, and my recipe of choice would be a paella. Chicken thighs are really popular when making paella, mixed with chorizo, onion, garlic, paella rice, and peas.
Top luxury cut and favourite recipe to make with it?
Chicken supreme, a boneless, skin-on chicken breast. The bone of the wing remains attached, also known as a chicken cutlet. This can be roasted and remains moist and juicy. It can be served with a savoury cream sauce on top and some fresh green vegetables, which will also enhance the dish.
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