Poultry is the name given to domestic birds specially bred to be eaten and for their eggs. Poultry is the world's most popular meat: almost twice as much poultry is consumed as beef.

Owing to present-day methods of poultry breeding and growing, poultry is available all the year round either chilled or frozen.

Food value
The flesh of poultry is more easily digested than that of butchers' meat. It contains protein and is therefore useful for building and repairing body tissues, and providing heat and energy. Its fat content is low and it contains a high percentage of unsaturated acids.

Fresh poultry must be hung by the legs under chilled conditions otherwise it will not be tender; the innards are removed as soon as possible after slaughter.

Frozen birds must be kept in a deep-freeze cabinet below -5 degrees until required. To reduce the risk of food poisoning , it is essential that frozen birds be completely thawed, preferably in a refrigerator, before they are cooked. Chilled birds should be kept at between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius.

Chicken is probably the most popular type of poultry dish. It comes in various types, with different uses:

  • spring chickens (poussin) - four to six weeks old
  • broiler chickens - three to four months old
  • medium and large roasting chickens
  • capons (castrated cock birds)
  • old hens - used in soups and sauces

Fresh chicken have a plump breast, a pliable breast bone and firm flesh. The skin should be white with a faint bluish tint and unbroken. The legs should be smooth with small scales and spurs.

Duck/duckling and goose/gosling
Goose is traditionally in season September until Christmas.

The feet and bills should be bright yellow. The upper bill should break easily. The webbed feet must be easy to tear. Ducks and geese may be roasted or braised.

The breast should be large, the skin undamaged and with no signs of stickiness. The legs of young birds are black and smooth, the feet supple with a short spur. As the bird ages the legs turn reddish and become scaly. The feet become hard.
Turkey are usually roasted and served hot or cold. Turkey meat is also used in a variety of other dishes.

Guinea fowl
When plucked these grey and white feathered birds resemble a chicken with darker flesh. The young birds are known as squabs. The quality points relating to chicken also apply guinea fowl.

Pigeon should be plump, the flesh mauve-red in color and the claws pinkish. Tame pigeons are smaller than wood pigeons. Squabs are young, specially reared pigeons.

Ostrich is usually sold as a fillet (taken from the thigh) or leg steak. The neck or offal is also available and is cheaper. It is often compared to beef, but it has a slightly coarser texture with less fat and lower cholesterol.

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