Poultry - not just chicken

There are literally hundreds of different breeds of poultry around the world. For thousands of years, chickens have been domesticated for a variety of reasons, whether for their eggs, meat or feather – some even for fighting! But many other birds are harvested for their eggs, meat and other produce, including duck, goose, turkey, ostrich, rhea, Indian peafowl, pigeon, pheasant and guinea fowl.

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A fatty bird with an abundance of taste. It has a ‘party special’ appeal that chicken lacks – but it is easy to get the cooking wrong.


To increase your chances for a tasty, crispy skin, the duck should be completely dry when you start cooking. Preferably let it stay uncovered on a grid in the refrigerator to make the skin dry out a little.

For the right, crispy result the fat has to met away during cooking, for example by having the duck on a spit or on a grill. Keep the tasty fat for frying and preserving other foods.

The inner temperature at the thickest section should not rise above 60° centigrade. Leave the duck to rest for a while so that the heat has time to cook the bones.


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Duck Breast

The finest cut on the duck. They are delicious if correctly prepared , as well as beautiful on the plate.


Duck breast loses its juiciness if you cook it past medium rare. The inner temperature should reach no more than 60°C after it has been taken from the heat and left to rest.

The key to a perfect duck breast is to achieve a crispy skin. Cut a decorative square pattern on the skin side so that salt and spices can penetrate. Fry the duck breast with the skin side downwards in a hot pan without fat. The fat from the duck itself will immediately trickle out. Flip the fillets just before putting them in the oven for the final stage of cooking. The end result will be a crispy and beautiful skin.



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Duck legs

This particular cut can be a bit underestimated in some cuisines – but certainly not in ones that know how to get the most out of this bird. It might not look as splendid on the plate, but it is easier to handle and at least as savoury as duck breast.


The meat becomes tender and succulent and falls apart beautiful when subjected to low heat for a long time. Duck leg confit (boiled in fat) is a classic dish and a fairly common on French menus.

In its most cautious form, a duck confit is never brought to the boiling point. In some recipes the legs simmer in the fat for days at 90° C or even lower. But by pushing up the heat just a little, to about 120° C, you can get a great result in less than 8 hours of cooking.

The basic confit procedure consist of a day in salt followed by a day (or more) in hot fat. Most chefs in the know will agree that spices and herbs should be added later – if at all. The duck legs are packed with wonderful flavors just as they are.

The legs should be stacked tightly and the fat should cover them so that they don’t dry out during the long process of cooking. If you don’t have enough fat to cover, adding more – for example a flavorless oil – is no problem.

Low and slow is perfect for the meat – but for crispy skin you need intensive heat. When the legs are done, sear the skin in for a short while in an oven, a pan or on a griddle. Handle the legs carefully, or they will fall apart.

Don’t throw away the fat. As long as it’s clean you can use it again for frying – for example – crispy vegetables. That, and a little salt, is all they need.



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There are literally hundreds of different breeds of poultry around the world. For thousands of years, chickens have been domesticated for a variety of reasons, whether for their eggs, meat or feather – some even for fighting! But many other birds are harvested for their eggs, meat and other produce, including duck, goose, turkey, ostrich, rhea, Indian peafowl, pigeon, pheasant and guinea fowl.


Learn how to cut a chicken and then buy a whole one. You get a better price, more beautiful pieces (with the skin) and you can prepare perhaps the most useful broth in the kitchen from the bones. Boil the bones with an onion and a carrot. Turn off the stove and let it rest overnight. Bring to boil again the next morning and drain through a sieve. You now have a perfect broth for a variety of dishes.

If you buy a low quality chicken, the best alternative is always to roast it whole. The taste and the juiciness are found in the skin and you get most of it when the chicken is roasted in the oven.

Good to know: The dark meat on the legs can take higher temperatures (about 70°)  than the lean, white meat on the breasts (about 65°). In other words you should place your thermometer in the breast – but make sure the legs are also done (which they usually are, being smaller).

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Chicken Bones 

The leftovers when other pieces have been removed and served up.


Obviously, you are not actually preparing the bones for eating, but some of the most delicious soups in world kitchens are based on broth boiled from this "cut".

Help the flavors develop with appropriate vegetables for soup – such as leeks and carrots – and mild seasoning. The water should boil  but not violently. A good idea is to leave the lid on and let the broth cool and develop overnight. Strain and reduce the following day.

If you don't have the time for this procedure it is perfectly all right to freeze the bones. Use as much as possible of this raw material to get as much flavor as possible.



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Chicken Breast

The largest piece – and the most tender and whitest part of the chicken.


The strength of chicken is that it is mild and – literally – absorbs all the tastes in the world. Vary chicken breast by fetching inspiration and spices from one or more of the world’s different kitchens.

Add fat to the tasty but lean fillet meat, by wrapping in air-dried ham, for example. Or cut open and fill with a tasty – preferably fatty and juicy – filling.

The meat on the breast is more sensitive to high temperatures than the meat on the legs.

Don't try to grill/fry chicken breast all the way to completion, because then the temperature will climb so high that everything except the absolute core will turn dry. A better idea is to brown it on high heat and then to let it cock in an oven at a more modest temperature. This gives the breast time to cook through without turning the outer layers into a dry, rubbery mass.

For food safety reasons the recommended temperature for chicken is 71°, but breast of chicken is cooked and ready to eat already at 65° (the legs can take 70°). Don't wing it, use a thermometer.

It is less tricky to cook the breast separately from other parts of the chicken – and preferably with some sort of added fat.


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Chicken Liver

An undervalued part of the chicken that is delicious and easy to cook.


Chicken liver has a milder taste than liver from larger animals, but it thrives in the same sour and savory tastes as other offal. And, with marjoram, soya and sour crème fraiche.

The liver must be cooked through – but not too long or it will turn dry and "grainy".

Finely chopped chicken liver and celery can be used as flavoring in sauce Bolognese.



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Chicken leg

The chicken leg consists of the thigh and the drumstick.


The meat will be tastier and juicier if you leave the skin on. Apply salt generously when grilling or frying – most of it will fall of anyway.

Store chicken in a dry place before cooking, for example on a gridiron. You will get a better result with nice, crispy skin if the raw material is dry.

The dark meat on the leg is can take 70°C (the lean, white meat in the chicken breast starts drying out at 65°C).


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Bresse Chicken

In France considered as the most delicious of all chickens. It lives a relatively long and free life and has time to develop an extraordinary character and taste. Some people would say it resembles game.


This is a big animal with powerful muscles. The challenge lies in not cooking the meat too far, which will make it turn dry and tough (even when you get it just right, the meat is tougher than on your every day chicken).

This is an unbeatable raw material that should not be eclipsed by other ingredients and spices. After you have emptied a Bresse chicken, the inside should be rubbed with lemon to remove any taste left by the intestines.



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Spring chicken 

A portion size chicken that is available in the spring.


Smaller than a common chicken, a spring chicken is usually found in stores in... spring.

Allow for the spring chicken to become one of a few, unadulterated tastes, which all are allowed to shine on the plate. It is portion size and becomes a beautiful part of the composition. You can stuff this small chicken with chicken mince, nuts, spices, gravy, celery, cream, etc, before you cook it.

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Chicken thigh fillet 

The upper thigh muscle without the bone. A juicy, dark meat that suits most purposes.


This is the most tender and tasty meat on the entire chicken. It is also more forgiving than the fillet. For example, it works better as portioned meat for the wok. The shape is also perfect for wrapping a filling.

The meat from the thigh can take 70°C, while the lean, white meat on the breast starts turning dry at 65°C.

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Corn-fed chicken 

Usually the same breed as all other chicken, but bred on corn, which produces are appetizing color and taste. The taste is also found in the layer of fat under the skin ,don’t remove it.


To achieve a perfect result and beautiful, crispy skin, always dry the chicken carefully before preparation. The dryer, the better. The skin of the chicken can take large amounts of salt.

Don’t complicate things, a corn chicken is already full of mild, fine tastes. Grill or whole roast in the oven. Be generous with taste enhancers when you roast a whole chicken – most of it drips away. A good idea is to insert salt, black pepper, garlic and other spices under the skin.

A disadvantage with a whole roast chicken is that the different parts are ready at different times. The meat on the chicken breast will be turning dry at 65°C, while the chicken legs can take up to 70°C.

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Chicken wings 

A piece of the chicken that deserves more attention than what it gets in many countries.


Due to its shape and size crispy, crunchy chicken wings are preferred as “finger food”. Fry, grill or deep fry to achieve an appetizing, golden surface. Do not hold back on salt and spices.


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A big bird that weighs many kilos. It deserves more attention and a more widespread reputation than it has today.


The legs and wings on a goose are wiry and tough. The meat becomes more appetizing if cut into smaller pieces and slices.

There is a considerable difference in the time taken for breast and wings to cook through. Aim for 70°C for the legs and 65°C for breasts. It is important to give the bird plenty of time to rest after cooking. Don't forget that the inner temperature will continue to rise corresponding to about 4% of the oven temperature.

Goose is a fatty food, but you can balance this on the plate by avoiding greasy, fried accompaniments.

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A bird with excellent, lean meat, but which is more often than not filled with a rich stuffing and allowed to cook dry in the oven.


If you stuff an entire turkey and cook it in the oven it will, inevitably, be a dry affair when cooked through. The trick is NOT to fill the entire cavity with stuffing, allowing heat from the oven to cook the bird from the inside.

The meat on the turkey breast starts turning dry at 65°C/150°F, the legs can take a lot more, up to 80°C/175°F.

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Turkey fillet 

Fine, lean and tender meat that can be used for most purposes. However, overcooking will result in dry, dull meat.


This lean and tender meat is done – and will immediately start turning dry – at a temperature of only 65°C. If you are cooking this cut in the oven, don't forget that the inner temperature will keep on rising even after you have removed it from the heat.

The breast fillet of the turkey works well in a wok – not the least because the frying oil and the tasty juices in the wok are a good match for the dryness in the meat.

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Ostrich fillet 

A solid piece of meat, which resembles fillet of beef, but is considerably leaner.


The tasty, tender, lean meat requires careful handling and added fat in order not to become dull during preparation.

Aim for an inner temperature of about 58°C.


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A bit older and tastier than regular chicken. Most commonly found in higher end restaurants.


A cockerel has had a little more time to grow and to develop meat with more flavor and character than ordinary chicken.

The meat is mild and can be combined with spices from all over the world, but raw material of this caliber deserves more gentle treatment. Highlight the chicken’s own characteristics with more subtle spices, tarragon for example.

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A considerably larger, heavier and more sinewy animal than your regular grilled chicken.


During its relatively long lifetime a hen has had opportunity to develop deep flavors. The meat needs to be boiled for a long time, any other cooking method is hard to consider.

A grown up bird must boil for one and a half to two hours. If possible, let it simmer gently. This way the meat will turn out more moist and tender.

Add a few root vegetables, which you sieve off at the end of the cooking. Keep the broth. It can be even tastier than chicken broth and can form the basis for soups, casseroles and sauces. Freeze it if you want it to keep for long.

After slow boiling you can pick the meat from the bones with your fingers. You can pull it apart – a bit like pulled pork – and use it in any number of dishes. Mild flavors and juicy and/or added fat is recommended.

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Not always available in stores, partly because of modern chicken breeding, but also due to low demand.


Rooster and hen are suitable for the same sort of casseroles. All cuts on these grown birds are larger than on a chicken and therefore you must cook them until the meat falls of the bone. It should take about 2 hours. Reduce and use the tasty broth left in the pot. You should also make a tasty and useful broth from the bones you may have separated from the meat.

Use the same kind of wine – but not necessarily the same price tag – in the pot and in the glasses. A Pinot Noir from Burgundy or a Cote du Rhone is a good bet. Blue grapes, for example Shiraz/Syrah, will result in a less attractive color.

Avoid oaked wines (in all cooking). They tend to turn bitter after boiling. Excessive tannines (for example in a young Cabernet Sauvignon) can result in unwanted, sharp flavors.

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