Four reasons why chicken is the most versatile meat
After pizza (but before chocolate) chicken is one of the most searched for foodstuffs on Google, and this could be because chicken is such a common and versatile ingredient. Worldwide, 20% of the entire animal protein consumed by humans is chicken. Here are four reasons why this meat is so universally popular.
1. Just about every country on this planet has a famous chicken recipe: there is tandoori chicken from India; Southern-fried chicken from America; chicken pie from England; Italian chicken cacciatore; piri-piri chicken from Portugal; chicken Kiev from Russia; Japanese chicken yakitori; Caribbean chicken – the list is endless. There are so many delicious ways to eat chicken in an array of lip-smacking sauces, spices and herbs.
2. Chicken is popular because it is so adaptable, widely available, reasonably affordable and – oddly for an ingredient – because it is bland. Its inoffensive taste will not interfere with others, so it marries well with bolder flavours, which may explain why there are so many chicken recipes. It is also cheap and relatively easy to rear compared to other meat sources such as cattle.
3. It is not only the meat of chickens that is popular. There are recipes for chicken made with different parts of the bird. In China chicken heads, which are consumed brains and all, are heartily devoured, as are chicken feet, necks and testicles. Giblets, which are organs such as the liver, heart, and gizzards, can be eaten alone or used to add depth to gravies and stocks. Even the oysters – not the seafood variety but the succulent nuggets of dark meat at the back of a chicken – are juicy treats that are especially adored by cooks who know that these little hunks of meat are something special.
4. Chicken can be baked, barbecued, broiled, grilled, roasted and sautéed. It is a great ingredient in bakes, curries, pasta, pies and stir-fries and can be eaten consumed hot or cold. In Japan, there is a dish known as toriwasa, which is basically a raw chicken sashimi.
Whether you like simple or sophisticated, dishes chicken features in all manner of cuisines, at all levels of skill. It is its affordability, accessibility, and culinary versatility that makes chicken the best meat to eat.