08 Nov2006

Free Range Chickens

by Marketman

pamora1

What is it with the chickens in this country? Why are they so small and boney??? Why are they the fowl equivalent of those underweight runway models that have now been banned in Spain and other European countries? I realize that the Western chickens are probably high on steroids and force-fed, not to mention blinded as chicks so they don’t attack their roommates, but why are ours like recent escapees from a North Korean detention camp? Finding a chicken here that exceeds 1.5 kilograms is like looking for a sumo wrestler in Ethiopia. I recall a relative in Cebu that used to have a pet chicken in their yard that weighed a good 15 pounds, or larger than most turkeys in the grocery today… And as for capons, is it just me or are they impossible to find in Manila groceries these days? In fact, I have an amusing story which you will simply not believe, but it is entirely true. Several years ago I hired a driver who was, shall we say, more senior in age. I figured he would be calmer and less likely to speed unnecessarily. But after several weeks it became apparent that he wasn’t quite all there and several bizarre incidents culminated in a week where he got ill and I made sure he had a full run of antibiotics to help him get better. A few days later, I asked him if he finished the medicine and he said “No, I stopped after the third day and didn’t finish the medicine because my wife said I would go DEAF if I finished the anitbiotics…” So I explained that he should have finished the medicine because it was actually worse to partially consume it and he answered, “Sir, kasi na-kapon na po ako.” Now, I admit, my tagalog is not too fluent but I think I got that loud and clear. Not sure what the connection to antibiotics and deafness was but there you have it, it’s actually statistically easier to find a human capon than a castrated chicken in Manila these days…

So let’s give up on size. What about flavor? Locally available grocery chickens aren’t too hot on that front either. They are pretty bland. My grandmother only used to only cook native chickens purchased live from the market. pamora2They were the best for soups, broths and stewing. However, I found the “just recently alive to my lunch plate link” a bit too literal but they did have good fowl flavor. Which reminds me of another story which you won’t believe but is also entirely true. Cousins of my wife own a poultry farm in Montalban. They had a new maid who was a bit clueless about the kitchen. Nevertheless they asked her to get a chicken ready for lunch and explained that it had to be “dressed” or have its feathers removed. When they got back to the house a couple of hours later, the maid was in a foul mood (pun intended). They looked out back and in the yard behind the kitchen, was a totally “naked” and de-feathered chicken…the maid had plucked all of the chickens feathers without first killing it and dunking it in a pot of boiling water!!! Yes. Laugh now. I couldn’t stop laughing for minutes after hearing that tale. Can you imagine how annoyed both the chicken and the maid would be???

Which brings me to these Pamora chickens that are grown without steroids and apparently run around freely on the range… They were pretty darn good. At 70-80% more pricey than grocery chickens, I was skeptical that these would be worth the extra money. But at a dinner the other night, I cooked three different chickens and since I was crazed, forgot to photograph them for my blog…but suffice it to say that the Pamora was far and away the most flavorful. I wasn’t sure why each chicken had to tell me how old it was (89 days in this case) but never mind…it tasted good. Again, they come in really small sizes (1.4 kilo the maximum I saw) but in my opinion, well worth the money… These free-range anc pricey chickens are available from pricey food shops like Santis, Terry’s, etc.

 

COMMENTS:

  1. joey says:

    Thanks for the heads up MM! How did you prepare this Pamora one?

    Nov 8, 2006 | 9:37 am

     
  2. CecileJ says:

    Oh, MM. This is one post that made me not feel so good. Am an animal lover and if it is true that chicks in the farms are blinded so that they don’t peck their coop mates, then I think that is so, so cruel. And the plucked while alive chicken story struck me as a sad tale of ignorance. (Try plucking an eyebrow and magnify it a million times and you’ll know how the poor chicken felt!)

    On a different note, however, I am a meat eater but I do feel pangs of remorse when I think of how many animal deaths I’ve caused. Hope they were slaughtered in a “humane” manner.

    Hope this doesn’t start a major rant n rave. Just being honest. :)

    Nov 8, 2006 | 9:43 am

     
  3. Marketman says:

    Joey, I sauteed some leftover pancetta (bacon will work too) and added onions, celery, chopped red bell peppers and salt and pepper and stuffed that into the chicken. Season the bird with salt and pepper and brush with olive oil and bake until cooked. You can also just stick an entire lemon into the cavity and salt and pepper. The leftovers (if you are just two for dinner) are perfect the next day for sandwiches. CecileJ, I agree with your sentiments. Unfortunately, animal cruelty for food is rampant and consumers simply turn the other way for convenience. The blinding of chickens is an old tale from large poultries in the U.S., and the plucking of a chicken here was just ignorance, as you say. But if you saw half of the scenes with respect to the way animals are raised and hygiene between their pens and your grocery cart, you would be a vegetarian in a flash. But that brings up a good point…who says fruits and vegetables don’t have feelings as well… :)

    Nov 8, 2006 | 9:57 am

     
  4. Juls says:

    Capons used to be available every Christmas, courtesy of the local chicken producers. Unfortunately they’ve stopped this practice, maybe for financial reasons. I sometimes come across kabir chicks in weekend markets, which they say can grow to a fairly large size. Haven’t tasted one yet though.

    Nov 8, 2006 | 9:57 am

     
  5. Lei says:

    MM when you mentioned about looking for capons, my deceased but dearly missed and favorite Tito came to my mind. Tito knew how to perform the procedure on a live chicken, in fact when I was still young, he even performed one wherein he was describing the step by step procedure.
    Btw, since I never got to asking him, is there a difference in the flavor of a castrated and non castrated one?

    Nov 8, 2006 | 10:06 am

     
  6. Marketman says:

    Lei, I don’t think it is flavor so much as size. With the chicken’s nuts (or whatevers)de-nutitated, it continues to grow and gain weight…will look this up and update this answer if necessary…

    Nov 8, 2006 | 10:09 am

     
  7. Lei says:

    On fruit and vegetables having feelings, have you watched the movie “Notting Hill” starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant? I recall fondly the scene wherein Hugh Grant was on a date with a ‘fruitarian’ and the date was explaining to the character of Hugh Grant that she only eats fruits that have fallen off the tree. She believes that picking them off the tree actually hurts them. =)

    Nov 8, 2006 | 10:10 am

     
  8. Marketman says:

    Lei, there is an actual term for that type of fruit and nut eater. I would starve if the stuff had to fall off first. Here is the addendum to my chicken answer. turns out chickens have two large testicles located within the abdominal cavity. Trivia, roosters also have 40x more sperm per cc of semen than humans… When you remove their gonads, it means that they continue to gain weight, are more docile and their flesh doesn’t get as tough…so I correct my comment above…caponizing both increases their size and keeps the flesh softer… see this interesting link for more info on how to caponize a rooster.

    Nov 8, 2006 | 10:17 am

     
  9. CecileJ says:

    I do feel for the animals but I like being on top of the food chain too much to give up meat! I can’t survive on budbud kabog and coffee mangosteen, no matter how yummy they are! :)

    Nov 8, 2006 | 10:18 am

     
  10. chloe says:

    Um, this is probably a question you weren’t expecting to be asked but what’s “na-kapon”?

    Nov 8, 2006 | 10:30 am

     
  11. choy says:

    your old driver was actually “caponed”? what in heavens for? is there any medical condition that would warrant such a procedure? and who would do it? was the guy for real?

    sorry for the numerous questions. it’s just that i suddenly felt vicarious pain in the…oh, wow!

    Nov 8, 2006 | 10:38 am

     
  12. Marketman says:

    choy, frankly, I didn’t ask. He didn’t last long. I normally pride myself in very long lasting crew but this guy had issues. And I didn’t need physical evidence… Chloe, literally, it would mean to be de-gonad-dated…in other words, castrated. But I think some folks may use it to describe a vasectomy, which literally does NOT involve removal of obvious body parts…heehee. Geez, didn’t think this post would get so graphic!

    Nov 8, 2006 | 10:46 am

     
  13. det says:

    Choy,that driver had a vasectomy if am not mistaken.One of the birth control methods.Guys correct me if am wrong.

    Nov 8, 2006 | 10:54 am

     
  14. lee says:

    My cousins are experts in castrating fowl. They would cut a tiny slit where the wing joins the body and scoop out something with a long thin spoonlike instrument.

    Nov 8, 2006 | 11:12 am

     
  15. choy says:

    thanks for the explanations, mm & det. vasectomy, it was,then.i’m so relieved.

    Nov 8, 2006 | 11:42 am

     
  16. Maria Clara says:

    Our native chickens are endangered species. You can hardly find them. Nothing can match them in tinola, sinampalokang, arroz caldo, nilaga, asado and pastel and the list goes on and on. When my paternal grandmother was around, she raised her own native chicken in their backyard and although they have refrigerator at that time, she never freeze any. They were always dressed fresh for lunch or dinner. Also the eggs of the native chicken are great especially in ensaymada – their yolk is bright yellow! That is what chicken for to be consumed. The Pamora chicken you bought is worth every penny you paid for – you get what you pay for. It is a good chicken.

    Nov 8, 2006 | 12:22 pm

     
  17. ykmd says:

    MM, that comment regarding deafness wasn’t so farfetched—there are certain drugs (such as gentamicin, which is still in use) that are ototoxic. But as to how that would have anything to do with having been sterilized, medyo non sequitur na yata yon. As for the size of fowl, I’ve long wondered why they are so puny there too. Dito naman sobrang taba! My cousin actually prefers cooking cornish hens because of their smaller size.

    Nov 8, 2006 | 12:28 pm

     
  18. nikka says:

    Ok, testicle-talk aside… (I must say though, I never knew that a rooster’s male reproductive organs were by their wings, Lee.)

    Driving up and down from Subic on the weekends, Paul the hubby and I always pass these coops with signs advertising “Extra large chickens for sale.” I must say, these are HUGE chickens. Each is at least the size of a basketball. I’ve always been tempted to pull over and purchase one, but I’ve also wondered if they’d slaughter it for me!

    Nov 8, 2006 | 12:59 pm

     
  19. ihid says:

    MM, have you inquired on the taste and texture of the “live dressed chicken”? Fowl & animals are supposed to be in a relaxed state before they are slaughtered. A substance released when not-relaxed affects the taste & texture.

    Nov 8, 2006 | 1:03 pm

     
  20. Marketman says:

    ihid, how can the chicken be relaxed when one snaps its neck to kill it? And that’s if done by hand. In commercial farms, I am envisioning these massive guillotine type set-ups were mass be-headings occur… Maybe they can force feed them some tanduay to get them a bit drunk before they do them in…as for the live dressed chicken…I suspect it was PISSED off and definitely tougher than its relatives. I once saw a beheaded chicken running around headless…the phrase is totally accurate – “running around like a headless chicken…” Nikka, if they dress the chicken for you (why don’t they say undress since they are removing feathers) those are ideal for roasting if they are much bigger than grocery chickens… I wish there were 3-4 kilo chickens in Manila groceries…

    Nov 8, 2006 | 1:17 pm

     
  21. tulip aka pinaygourmand says:

    I was onced traumatized upon seeing how chicken were slaughtered at the Farmer’s Market and Arranque Market when I was about 6 years old when my mom used to make a trip there to get native chickens, I pity them tremendously. But later on taking weekly trips to our of town farm made me used to it. I love chicken and I will surely try how you cooked the Pamora.

    Nov 8, 2006 | 3:33 pm

     
  22. Katrina says:

    I’ve never heard of the myth connecting antibiotics and deafness, but what really surprised me is the supposed connection between antibiotics or deafness and castration/vasectomy! Talk about non sequiturs…

    This has no connection either, being off-topic, but because CecileJ mentioned it…Felipe tried the mangosteen jam with coffee ice cream last weekend, and I had a spoonful. YUMMY!

    Nov 8, 2006 | 3:46 pm

     
  23. Chris says:

    I grew up in a farm so I am quite exposed to the realities of where we get our food. It doesn’t bother me at all, except of course if the animals are treated with unecessary cruelty. But most of the time, the shabby treatment farm animals get is the the result of indifference to the animals’ feelings, not cruelty. And can you fault the farmers? Their living standards are so low, what most urbanites accept as the minimum humane treatment for animals, they can already consider as luxurious living even for themselves.

    Nov 8, 2006 | 3:52 pm

     
  24. renelmac says:

    Ive seend how chickens are “dressed” every morning when i go to Farmers in Cubao, not really a nice sight to see a naked chicken jumping out of a boiling couldron of water all red. My opinion on why chickens are small now is that it is more economical to make them small, than to grow them bigger since at the price per kilo of chicken it is pretty expensive for a middle class family to buy them. If jumbo chickens are your fare, there are specific places where you can buy them live, these are your regular farm places wherein chickens are well fed with a variey of foods rather than your run of the mill chicken feeds they give in your mass production farms

    Nov 8, 2006 | 6:15 pm

     
  25. renelmac says:

    Also a heads up to everyone, theres a report that there may be a shortage of chicken this year for the season due to the past storms that went our way a couple of months ago, they killed so many chicks and chickens that the shortage would hit right around christmas time. Although suppliers are already preparing for the shortage through different means (importation and loading up on chickens) hopefully the shortage won’t be too hard on us.

    Nov 8, 2006 | 6:24 pm

     
  26. filet minion says:

    how interesting aridelros! i never knew that you had to be so 007 to slaughter pigs and attain a certain palatable texture and taste! i really like this blog because of the various trivia you learn everyday!

    this is also a bit nonsequitur but when i was younger, rumor had it that kentucky fried chicken was re-named kfc because they started using mutant chickens that were developed in the laboratories and these “chickens” had more legs since their bestsellers were the thigh/drumstick parts. so allegedly, they were no longer full-fledged chickens, technically, and could no longer, thus, be called ‘kentucky fried chicken.” i know this is so naive of me to ask but would anyone know if there’s any truth to this and if not, why in the world would such an absurd kwentong barbero circulate? thanks!

    Nov 8, 2006 | 7:59 pm

     
  27. edee says:

    i saw in telly as well that they used a stun gun for cattles, and the same explanation, they don’t want to stress them cause it affects the meat….

    Nov 8, 2006 | 8:44 pm

     
  28. Marketman says:

    filet minion, is that from the same rumour mill that created the earthworms in hamburgers story? Analytically, earthworms probably cost more per kilogram than beef so it would be a silly extender, no?!? edee, instead of stun guns, if we put the cattle in front of the more inane noontime lunch shows on local tv they might be lulled into a stupor instead…

    Nov 8, 2006 | 9:03 pm

     
  29. edee says:

    LOL! :)

    Nov 8, 2006 | 10:28 pm

     
  30. millet says:

    MM, you are eveeeeer so funny! after coming from a long and gruelling meeting, this post is the perfect picker-upper…am guffawing in front of my computer!!! but back to chickens….yes, “kapon” is a common local term for vasectomy, which partly explains the low number of acceptors of this family planning method. several years ago, i wanted organic chickens so we decided to raise some in our backyard. well, one day one of the yayas decided to slaughter one chicken in front of our 2-year old son, showing him each step as she went along! we came home to a visibly shocked boy who wouldn’t go near his yaya. and you can bet i almost did to her what she did to the chicken! and that was the end of our free-range chicken dreams. nikka, beware of those HUGE chickens they sell by the roadside – not only are they “culls”, and therefore are super-tough, but they got that big because they’ve been fed a surfeit of drugs and hormones and steroids, no kidding.

    Nov 8, 2006 | 10:45 pm

     
  31. pinky says:

    Filet Mignon, the rumor about Kentucky Fried Chicken is exactly that a rumor. The change in name is partly because of Col Sanders’ beloved company was eventually bought outby the makers of PepsiCola (I think). So to give it a fresh image but still retain some of the old, they changed name to KFC.

    Nov 9, 2006 | 5:16 am

     
  32. tulip aka pinaygourmand says:

    Marketman, it’s no humor about burgers or hotdogs made from worms. It can be done, those worms are theoretically “harmless and clean” since those are actually “breed and propagated” in a laboratory set up. But then again I can’t confirm whether a fast food chain uses worm or beef. I guess if you can’t tell if the cold cuts taste is real meat then it must be from nematodes.

    Nov 9, 2006 | 5:53 am

     
  33. Rampau says:

    Even though chickens here in US are larger and meatier, I like the chickens in Manila better. Like the Jollibee chicken joy here is not as yummy as the chicken joy there in Manila. I dont know why. It’s just the freezing the chicken in an extended amount of time robs it of it’s flavor. I’m just jolog I guess, I like my chicken skinny and more flavorful. I ate at Jollibee only once, it’s going down. You’ll have to grow up eating that food to go back.

    Nov 9, 2006 | 6:54 am

     
  34. ted says:

    I think the size of the fowl always depends on their breed or genes. Native chickens will always be smaller as in cornish hens, and the whiteLegHorns will always be big no matter how you feed them, whiteLegHorns may be pale and thin and won’t weigh as much if you don’t feed them but just the same they will be big in size…Just my thought on the issue.

    As for the cheese, I miss our “kesong puti” already. I’ve heard that in the southern part of California, they were able to produce this kind of cheese commercially from a herd of native tamaraws or carabao’s. If any of you know where to get this kind of cheese here in the U.S. west coast, please let me know, The closest I can find is the mexican variety but they are still made from cows milk and not as tasty as our own version.

    As for the KFC changing its name to Kitchen Fresh Chicken instead of “Kentucky” the real story is that the State of Kentucky had passed a bill or a copyright to the word “Kentucky” which would make companies that produce any brand named “Kentucky” to pay a hefty fee for the privilege. You don’t see any “Kentucky blue grass” being sold at HomeDepot anymore as well.

    Nov 9, 2006 | 7:48 am

     
  35. ted says:

    Apologies for posting the comment about the cheese in this blog. I should have posted that comment on the S&R blog ;-)

    Nov 9, 2006 | 8:05 am

     
  36. Marketman says:

    ted, no problem at all… I think I have an earlier post on quesong puti. Will look for it and put a link here so you can read it.

    Nov 9, 2006 | 8:36 am

     
  37. choy says:

    aridelros, i just turned a greenish hue upon reading you were enjoying 10-month old bahalina…mother’s milk! lucky you.

    Nov 9, 2006 | 10:12 am

     
  38. MrsA says:

    Hi MM ! Congratulations on the EB success– would love to join the next one! I saw pamora chicken being sold in Unimart in greenhills — today they had one that was almost 2 kilos! But at a hefty price too P500 +. As they had only a few left, i bought the smallest ( 1.5 k ) for around P400 to try with the recipe you mentioned above. Wish me luck

    Nov 9, 2006 | 9:03 pm

     
  39. Marketman says:

    MrsA, PHP400 sounds like a lot! I’m not sure now how much I Paid for mine but I don’t think it was more than PHP180 a kilo. At any rate it should be worth it. I also have other recipes for roast chicken in the archives. Here is a link and another link for your convenience. And here is a post on turbo chicken as well… Good luck with your Pamora!

    Nov 9, 2006 | 10:09 pm

     
  40. Mandy says:

    good lord, i never thought chickens would warrant so many comments! :) here’s mine: one of the reasons why chickens here puny (besides the over medicated chickens) is bec chicken subcontractors are required to produce small chickens–less than 1kilo. magnolia, purefoods and the like want the consumer to feel that they are paying less for the whole chicken they are purchasing. pero in reality, the chicken they’re getting is so small, not really cheaper.

    bigger chickens are rejected by the chicken selling companies kasi it will be more expensive weight-wise compared to the small chicken.

    Nov 9, 2006 | 10:40 pm

     
  41. Lei says:

    MM, I do have a question, from your experience, do you really have to quarter the lemon like in the citrus and ginger recipe or is it okay if you just stuff it whole like in your lemon and thyme recipe? I’ve been wondering if stuffing it whole will still render the same flavor…

    Nov 10, 2006 | 8:58 am

     
  42. Marketman says:

    I like the stuffing it whole version, but if you want to be in between, then prick a few holes in the lemon with a sharp knife… the fragrance and flavor from one whole lemon in a chicken cavity really shines through…

    Nov 10, 2006 | 9:05 am

     
  43. Lei says:

    Thanks a lot! I know now what to cook for Saturday lunch. =)

    Nov 10, 2006 | 10:34 am

     
  44. Marketman says:

    Mrs. A, I stand corrected, you are right Pamora is sold at PHP300+ a kilo, Santis seems to have mis-charged me (in my favor, a rare treat) for my chickens! And I just saw larger ones at Terry’s Selection on Pasong Tamo, chickens of up to 2.1 kilos even! Yay, now I can make a really nice sized roast chicken during the holidays…

    Nov 13, 2006 | 4:21 pm

     
  45. filet minion says:

    thanks for enlightening me everyone. uh aridelros, thanks for the esoteric explanation but i’ll go with ted’s and pinky’s.

    the state of kentucky explanation is much more plausible than any of the genetically engineered multiple-legged chicken stories ive heard.

    Nov 13, 2006 | 7:55 pm

     
  46. solraya says:

    For those who want to try to raise their own grass fed, pasture poulty, we have imported chicks available. By Oct 2007, island born chicks will be ready.

    After tasting real chicken, you may not want to touch the growth boosted ones :)

    http://solraya.com
    http://blog.solraya.com
    http://solraya.blogspot.com
    info@solraya.com

    Apr 11, 2007 | 8:33 am

     
  47. solraya says:

    MM,

    I saw that you wanted to see 3-4 kilo chickens.

    I may have some growers of our free ranged, grass fed chickens who are able to to meet that demand.

    Oct 24, 2007 | 9:33 am

     
 

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