By Catharine Kaufman
September is National Chicken month, paying homage to the more than 9 billion birds raised every year for consumption in this country. Here’s a primer to help pollitarians navigate their way through the shoals of the chickens’ world this month and throughout the year. Cluck. Cluck.
Struttin’ its stuff
Chicken (especially skinless breast meat) is a lean, densely packed protein source, having less than half the fat of a trimmed prime cut steak.
Loaded with B vitamins, particularly niacin, chicken has been linked to putting the skids on age-related cognitive diseases, and dialing-up energy. While the trace mineral selenium in chicken is an immune- boosting powerhouse and hormone regulator, keeping the thyroid on an even keel.
Probably one of the most versatile foods on the planet, you could easily prepare a different dish for every day of National Chicken Month: Chicken Parmesan. Morrocan-stewed chicken with figs and apricots. Chicken with roasted quinoa. Chicken sausage paella. Chicken and wild mushroom risotto. White chicken chili. Stuffed chicken cabbage rolls. Chicken with lemon and capers over egg noodles. Grilled Greek chickensalad. Chicken Caesar. Chicken lo mein. Chicken egg foo yung. You get the picture.
When choosing chicken, buy organic free-range wherever possible. Factory-farmed chickens are cooped up in cramped quarters, necessitating the use of large amounts of antibiotics to prevent the spread of infections and other diseases.
They are also injected with growth hormones, giving them synthetically augmented breasts. So when buying chicken, make sure it passes the drug test as well as the taste test.
All it’s cracked up to be
A young, healthy hen lays roughly 300 eggs per year, which varies depending on the breed. It’s a misnomer that brown eggs have a higher nutritional value than their pale counter-parts; rather, the mocha hue is a result of a pigment deposited in the shell during the formation in the oviduct from red-feathered, brown ear-lobed hens. Other breeds lay designer shades of blue, green, reddish brown and mauve.
Eggs are a complete protein and provide a mother lode of folic acid, iron, calcium, phosphorous, potassium and Vitamins A, B6, B12, D and E. Those high in Omega-3 fatty acids come from chickens fed with polyunsaturated fats and kelp meal.
Tastes like chicken
For vegetarians and vegans who like the taste of chicken and eggs there are plenty of mock options including, Veggie Chicken Burgers (Yves), Chicken Nuggets (Boca and Applegate), and Meatless Buffalo Chicken Wings (Gardenburger). Swap out the real McCoy for egg substitutes, and whip up frittatas, scrambles, breakfast burritos or crème brule French toast.
A Hen Party
In celebration of National Chicken Month, a handful of neighboring restaurants in Del Mar Highlands Town Center will be hosting a Chicken Cook-off on Saturday Sept. 15 from 2 to 4 p.m. Davanti Enoteca, Mia Francesca, Rimel’s, Burlap and Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza will be offering samples of their signature chicken dishes. The winner of this free to the public friendly competition will be decided by the people’s choice.
My chicken contribution is this simple family fave that won’t leave you with egg on your face (see box at right).
For additional chicken recipes email firstname.lastname@example.org.