Fashion Plate

If you like Texas Jot, please take a look at my other blog, Fashion Plate. It is the home of my handmade retro Barbie clothes and lots of delicious recipes from my cookbooks.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Give Me REAL Chicken!

If it smells like chicken and looks like chicken, it probably is chicken.  The question is, just what kind of chicken is it?  If your piece of chicken is shaped into a patty, forget it. It is mechanically separated chicken or MSC.  Sometimes nuggets are pieces cut from whole breast meat...sometimes they are formed.
If you are in doubt, consider the structure of a chicken breast.  They do not come off the chicken in  recognizable shapes,  but rather rounded toward one edge and taper more on one side than the other. Bite into a real chicken breast and you will notice that it has striations of meat.  One can easily cut it into chunks, but if you pull a piece of the cooked chicken, you will get a "string" rather than a chunk.
It is difficult to track down some of the fast food and processed food, but from what I have found out, McDonald's and Chick-fil-a use "real" nuggets.  If you are buying a frozen meal, by law they are required to list the chicken as MSC if it is not natural occurring breast meat.

The following recipe is for Restructured Chicken courtesy of the U.S. Dairy Export Council website.
chicken, breasts
salt modified starch
spices whey protein concentrate 80%*
sodium phosphate
chicken broth
Remove fat from whole chicken breast pieces and macerate trimmed breasts.
Take 20% of trimmed breasts and chop into a coarse paste.
Add meat and other ingredients to a tumbler and tumble under vacuum for at least 2 hours at 14 rpm.
Refrigerate and hold for 16-24 hours.
Stuff into pre-struck fibrous casing and cook, using relative high humidity, to an internal temperature of 153 degrees.
*WPC with chicken combination improves flavor, texture, juiciness and reduces cost in processed chicken products.

So how do they get the leftover meat off the bones?  The chicken carcasses can be hit with streams of water to blast off the remaining meat and tendons, or they can be run through a sieve.
A whole muscle chicken breast can be combined with other similar pieces to be formed by hand or machine into a giant chicken breast. Then they are cooked or smoked.  This is what you find behind the deli case.  Did you really think a anyone raised a chicken large enough to have a breast that big? Of course, the meat can also be "made" as restructured chicken a la the nuggets and patties.  These are so nasty, that they are better when thinly sliced.
So why do folks do this chicken engineering?  To save MONEY. 
If all that isn't enough to ruin your appetite, in 2005 a professor at the University of Georgia found a way to convert dark meat chicken into white meat.  Daniel Fletcher's recipe involves adding water to the dark meat and then spinning the resulting slop in a centrifuge.  It can then be molded into patties and nuggets.
I can tell you that I will be doing lots of label reading.  In the mean time, if you want some really delicious chicken, check out my recipe for chicken pot pie on

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