Chicken, duck, goose, turkey, guinea fowl, all birds bred for the table are classified as poultry. Fresh or frozen, poultry is available all year round. It is probably the most popular meat in the world as we cannot think of a country where it is not consumed or any kind of cultural restrictions, as it happens with other meats.
Chicken is the most popular type of poultry because it is very versatile. Young birds are tender and juicy, perfect for roasting and grilling, whole or in pieces. Older birds make great casseroles cooked with vegetables and herbs.
Choosing chicken can be a little baffling as there is much variety. The guide is number of portions and cost. Each country has its own classification, but the types or chicken to be found in the shops would be, more or less as the summary below.
Poussins - 6-8 weeks old, serve 1-2 people, 1-2 lb weight (450-900 g) - good for grilling.
Broilers - about 12 week old, serve 3-4 people, 2-3 lb (900 g to 1.25 kg) - good for roasting.
Roasters - serve 6-8 people, 4-5 lb weigh (1.3 kg to 2.25 kg) - good for roasting.
Capons - about 10-12 week old, fed special diet, serve 8-10 people, 6-8 lb (2.5 kg to 3.5 kg) - good for roasting.
Boiling fowls - 18 months or older - good for boiling and casseroles.
Chicken portions - from half a chicken, to drumsticks, breast, thighs, wings, leg joints, and more.- good for grilling, roasting, braising, stewing, stir frying, and more, depending on the joint. Even ground chicken meat is available to make burgers, meatballs, etc.
Giblets - necks and internal edible parts, make an excellent stock or broth.
Chicken livers - fry, braise, or make into a paté.
Larger than chicken, but it can be also found whole or in joints, even ground turkey meat. A 10-12 lb bird (4.5kg to 5.5 kg) will feed 12 people when roasted. The meat is dryier than chicken, so frequent basting is required, as well as protecting the breast with foil, or covering with bacon or lard.
It has many bones, even a large duck probably will not feed more than 4 people. Duck is a fatty bird, so it will not need brushing with oil or basting while roasting, as long as you prick the skin in a few places to allow its own fat run free.
Duckling - up to 6 weeks old, seves 2 people, 3-4 lb (1.5 kg to 1.75 kg)
Duck - serves 3-4, 4-6 lb (1.75 kg to 3 kg)
Goose is full of flavor but it is a fatty bird and the yield is not as good as that of chicken. Found whole or in joints, usually for roasting, although the carcasses and bones can be used for stock and the fat is good for cooking. Geese found on most shops weight 6-12 lb (2.75 kg to 5.5 kg) and will feed 6-12 people. In some places is only available around the holiday period, or to order.
These are not large birds. Young birds, good for roasting, will feed 1-2 people, will weight 1-2 lb (500-900 g) and older birds may weight up to 3-4 lb (1.25 kg to 1.6 kg) but these tend to be tough and only good for casseroles.
Guinew fowl used to be considered a game bird.
If you buy a frozen bird, make sure it is completely thawed before cooking, so it can cook evenly. There is a risk of salmonella poisoning from undercooked birds.
Latest recommendations are not to wash poultry, as modern kitchens do not have large sinks and there is a risk of cross contamination from waterd droplets splattering over clean dishes and utensils drying by the sink, or just lying around.
How to handle and cook chicken and poultry