A beginner’s guide to chicken
Unless you’re embracing a vegetarian or vegan way of life, it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t like chicken.
But how did chicken become of the world’s staple sources of protein?
The modern chicken as we know it today, is a descendant of the junglefowl that was first domesticated thousands of years ago in the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent.
Through trade and migration, the humble chicken soon found a home in most communities around the world.
Chicken consumption increased dramatically in the United States during World War II, due to shortages of other meat. In Europe, the emergence of Mad Cow Disease in the mid-90s gave a further boost to demand for chicken.
Modern varieties of chicken such as the Cornish Cross, are bred specifically for meat production, with an emphasis placed on the ratio of feed to meat produced by the animal.
Chickens raised specifically for food are called broilers. Broilers are typically butchered at a young age – as early as eight weeks for fryers, and 12 weeks for roasting birds.
Broilers are floor-raised on litter such as wood shavings, peanut shells, and rice hulls. The birds are raised indoors, in climate-controlled housing.
It’s estimated that chicken producers raise 50 billion chickens each year for meat and egg production.
Why choose chicken?
Chicken is generally less expensive than other sources of protein. It is seen as a lean, low-fat meat. It’s also incredibly versatile, and can be cooked in a range of different styles with different flavours and ingredients. It’s difficult to find a cuisine that doesn’t feature chicken as one of its staple ingredients.
Where to eat chicken in London
The Chicken Shop occupies part of the basement space beneath the Hoxton Hotel in Holborn.
Part of the Soho House group, The Chicken Shop is a fool-proof franchise that they’ve got going - they now have several in London and also one in Chicago - rotisserie chicken, chips, and sides. It’s like a posh Nando’s - except the chicken is roasted on a rotisserie not grilled.
If you like chicken then you are going to love Bird.
Towards the city end of Kingsland Road, at first glance this place seems a little more stylish than most of the restaurants in this edgy neighbourhood. But Hoxton is definitely an area that is evolving and Bird is definitely popular with locals and the after-work crowd.
The menu is pretty much chicken any way you could want it. This is chicken how it should be done - dirty and delicious.
Belgo is a small chain - they have five restaurants in London. They serve mussels, chicken, and beer - all with a bit of a Belgian flavour. We snacked on cheese croquettes to start and then tucked into rotisserie chicken with chips.
The restaurant were busy, the atmosphere was lively, and the service was relaxed, friendly, and efficient.
Adding to the canal-side cool of the area sometimes referred to as the Haggerston Riviera, is Chick’n’Sours – the perfect neighbourhood restaurant where they serve fried chicken and variations on the whisky sour cocktail.
It’s a small space, simple but effective decor, and the service is relaxed and friendly but efficient.