Poultry has a history at special events. Whether it’s a Christmas goose or a Thanksgiving turkey, we put poultry on the table during some of our most significant occasions. And it’s no wonder given the ease, universality, and tastiness of various fowl types.
But some dining decisions aren’t as cut and dry as turkey at Thanksgiving. If you’re planning a special event, whether it’s a company function for the higher ups or a dinner party to celebrate a significant life event, you probably want poultry on the menu. The question is: what kind?
In this blog post, we walk you through the most common poultry birds and their characteristics to help you make this cuisine choice more easily.
Chicken meat has a leanness and affordability that makes it a staple in many households. This fowl offers a lot of versatility, since you can cook chicken using nearly any method, and you can serve either white or dark meat from the same bird.
If you choose chicken for a special occasion, focus on quality. While chicken suits most palates, free-range heritage chicken has a moist texture and high-quality flavor that makes it preferable to any other type of chicken. You may also want to choose a special recipe to reflect your event’s importance.
For many connoisseurs, duck represents an elegant indulgence. Duck meat has a rich, fatty quality that makes it a flavorful choice. And because fewer households eat duck on a regular basis, this meat as your choice of entrée makes a statement.
However, duck takes a significant amount of time to cook since you must render off the fat during cook time. If you opt for duck, keep in mind that wild or free range duck contains less fat, so it takes less cook time and less practice to perfect.
Pheasants consist primarily of lean white meat. When cooked conscientiously, pheasant lends a flavor-packed air of whimsy and tradition to an event. Many food professionals describe the taste of pheasant as similar to quail or guinea fowl.
Because pheasant has very little fat, use care as you cook it. Pheasant typically needs barding if cooked traditionally. You may also choose to serve pheasant smoked. Choose a high-quality bird to ensure the best results from your kitchen to your table.
Like chicken, turkey has a high amount of versatility since it accommodates most cooking methods and contains both dark and white meat. If you plan to serve many guests, turkey may be a smart decision, since the bigger bird means more to go around without making more purchases.
However, in America, turkey has a long association with Thanksgiving and other fall holidays. To distinguish your dish from these well-known events, try an adventurous blend of spices or a new cooking method.
In addition to the information above, consider your guests and your schedule on the day of the event. If none of your guests know and love the flavor of pheasant, it might work better to opt for a familiar favorite at this event. And if you have only a small window of time to prepare meat yourself, it’s safer to purchase chicken than duck simply because one takes longer to cook than the other.
Still can’t decide? Or think you know what you want, but don’t know whether or not it works with your chosen wine? Talk to a fowl and game expert or professional chef. You may decide to go with a ready-made specialty entrée or change your menu entirely based on an expert’s advice.
With a little planning and the knowledge listed above, your meal can be as special as the occasion itself.