Friday, January 07, 2005

The Trouble With Chicken

Yeah that's right. Chicken. That stuff you buy in the grocery store that you bake, fry, broil, shred, or do whatever you need to for your recipes.

Jack gets many requests for his chicken wings. (even though at Jack's New Year's party, they were sub-par for my normal fare.) So I buy them in large quantities, at least once a month.

I don't buy those ones pre-cut that come in a bag all frozen. They often have an 'ice' covering, and since I deep fry my wings the water and very hot oil (350 degrees F) don't mix very well. I find that if I thaw them out, they are quite small. However, something about those frozen wings and even the fresh ones that I buy is now really bothering me.

"Up to X % of a solution added to enhance flavor"

Poppycock. You see, they 'inject' the chicken with a solution (probably Chicken Broth, or just salted water) to allegedly make it more 'moist' and 'tasty'. Blah. All it means is that you are paying so much per pound for water. If you fry or cook the chicken, it comes right out during the cooking. When I cut fresh wings that have this solution injection, it just makes a large mess of raw chicken liquid that is a pain to cleanup.

By now you're probably wondering what the big deal is. Well, its like this, that X % used to be 10% at most. OK - a 10% extra charge on what I am paying for after you get rid of the 'enhancement'. I could deal with that. Now its up to 15-20% (though I did see some that was as low as 12%, once), so I am paying for 1/6th to 1/5th of the cost per pound in water!

There could be a couple of reasons for this. One is that it leads to higher profit margins. The other is that the FDA has banned growth hormones use in many of the meat products we eat, one of these being chicken. I don't know which it is at this point, it seems that the ban went into effect in 2002, so its been around for a while, even though there is still argument about whether or not these hormones are harmful.

I just want chicken that has no 'enhancements' of water without paying an arm and a wing for 'organic' chicken. I'll take the stuff grown in cages thankyouverymuch. At least the Giant Eagle near me carries stuff that has no solution enhancement, but we'll see how long that lasts. Of course it is about 30% higher in cost.