19 Jan2011

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It seems an odd thing to get excited about — a frozen three-kilo dressed chicken at PHP129 a kilo or so in the freezers at S & R Taguig. But for years I havesearched and wondered why locally produced chickens seemed to be so small, almost anorexic, possibly undernourished. Finding a local dressed chicken in a grocery that exceeded 1.2-1.4 kilos in weight was a rare occurrence. I figured the feed cost to growth ratio meant it was probably unprofitable to raise larger chickens… So I eventually got used to the smaller chickens, but always hoped for bigger ones. Like most folks I know, chicken is a huge part of our diet, and one of the most economical sources of animal protein on the market today. So there isn’t a week that goes by that we don’t have chicken at least once or twice. And while I love a totally free-range and organically raised chicken, I find the prices still a bit too high to rely on them solely for all of our dishes… I preserve the best and costliest chickens for a simple roast, where the quality of the chicken stands out more than in say an afritada or stew.

Over the years, my hope for large chickens dimmed until I spotted this plump bird in the freezer section of S&R a few days ago. I bought one to try, and while I haven’t cooked it yet, I am thrilled to find a large bird. I know, I know, bigger isn’t always better, but sometimes skinny isn’t thrilling either. :) I was once extremely lucky to score this 3-4 kilo capon from a family friend one year, and hoped she would provide a steady supply, but it was a one-off event. Recently, I learned that both Pamora farms and Solraya had capons at around 3 kilos each, but prices for the organically raised ones were at between PHP400-900 a kilo, a bit much for my budget. So maybe, just maybe, the chicken Gods are listening and are bringing bigger chickens to market…yay. And don’t get me started on how these were probably raised in inhumane conditions with their irises seared to prevent neighborly fights… I know there is a sordid side to eating intensively farm-raised protein, be it beef, chicken, pork or fish…

So if you too wanted a bigger chicken, they are at least available from Magnolia in select locations. Thank goodness for more product choice.

 

COMMENTS:

  1. izang says:

    I have watched a documentary titled “Food, Inc.” once where it said showed the true state of how our food is produced. True, it is disturbing. But, people do need to eat.

    Jan 19, 2011 | 11:12 am

     
  2. Buddy says:

    The reason behind the chickens being smaller is that the restaurant chains prefer dressed chicken between 1.0 to 1.1kg. Weights above 1.5kg are no longer desired by these chains and are usually sold at supermarkets. This usually happens when the growers have their chickens overstay at the farms when the demand and prices are low.

    Jan 19, 2011 | 11:15 am

     
  3. val says:

    the company i work for supply some materials for building chicken houses — we got to visit houses during harvesting– i would say the chickens are treated fairly well and no tubes are forced down their throats! :)

    Jan 19, 2011 | 11:19 am

     
  4. whackerZ says:

    MM, pardon me, this is off-topic but I just want to share:

    Yummy Philippines – January/February 2011
    http://hotfile.com/dl/95694639/410527d/Yummy_2011-01-02_downmagaz.com.pdf.html

    Saveur – January/February 2011
    http://depositfiles.com/en/files/ayof0vqx5

    Digital copies in PDF format.

    Jan 19, 2011 | 11:44 am

     
  5. daryl says:

    i’d love to see chicken nuggets a la marketman

    Jan 19, 2011 | 3:08 pm

     
  6. ka_fredo says:

    We roasted one of these last christmas. I think my mom purchased it at South Supermarket Alabang. It takes a bit of time in the oven. Im wondering if its possible to roast chickens this size in the rotisseries that lechon manok vendors use. Jumbo Lechon manok sounds interesting.

    Jan 19, 2011 | 5:47 pm

     
  7. millet says:

    i don’t see them in our local grocers, but they’d make great roast chicken or relleno (easier to debone, too!)

    Jan 19, 2011 | 5:52 pm

     
  8. Ingrid says:

    A cousin of mine used to work for Vitarich that produced jumbo dressed chicken for the defunct Texas chicken fastfood chain. I visited this cousin of mine at the plant and by golly wow they were HUGE chickens, like baby turkeys. Those huge chickens were fed with a special type of feeds that made them grow bigger and fatter. :)

    Jan 19, 2011 | 9:15 pm

     
  9. sister says:

    About time you found a large chicken at reasonable prices. Organic, free range is available
    here in NYC for between $4-5. a lb. at the farmers markets or $3. at Costco. Big chickens are great for roasts, chicken pot pie, chicken salad, soup, pancit, etc. Far more cost effective than puny, under aged specimens.

    Jan 20, 2011 | 12:09 am

     
  10. tonceq says:

    The largest chicken I was able to find in manila was around 1.2 to 1.5kg and coming from a family of BIG eaters, that simply was not enough (roasting the bird takes at least an hour or so and the oven just can’t crank them out fast enough for all of those grumbling tummies).

    Really nice to know that were getting more choices is our markets! thanks for the heads up MM!

    thought it was a turkey at first glance hehe! :)

    Jan 20, 2011 | 2:02 am

     
  11. barang says:

    In contrast, I always look for smaller pieces of chicken thinking that their taste would be more delicate, less commercial and less fatty than the huge chicken pieces American supermkts offer! Yes, unfortunately, the organic, free-range offerings are too pricey.

    Jan 20, 2011 | 7:03 am

     
  12. rowenajks says:

    I always choose the leanest and smallest chicken, free range and organic -these are available all year at Central Market and Whole Foods…mas malasa and mas masarap siya -especially if I am making Tinola and Arroz Caldo….

    Jan 20, 2011 | 8:33 am

     
  13. APM says:

    Hi Marketman.

    I roasted one of these chickens the other day with acceptable results. A bit of a timing issue vis a vis the thighs and the breasts. (I try to keep the breasts moist by stuffing compound butter between the skin and the breasts).

    I have stopped wet brining and shifted to dry brining. There’s an article on dry brining from the LA Times here:

    http://www.latimes.com/theguide/holiday-guide/food/la-fo-calcook18-2009nov18,0,4954438.story

    You may want to adjust the salt ratio as i found the original ratio bland.

    Jan 20, 2011 | 10:29 am

     
  14. Marketman says:

    APM, I too have started salting steaks earlier rather than later, with good results. Dry brining is much easier, but I find a bit trickier with regards to saltiness of final product…

    Jan 20, 2011 | 12:58 pm

     
  15. faith says:

    Good to hear. I was grumbling over the *small* selections over the holidays. Looking forward to trying this out in the turbo. :D

    Jan 20, 2011 | 5:16 pm

     
  16. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    Will check if S&R have them here in Cebu

    Jan 20, 2011 | 7:40 pm

     
  17. Wyatt says:

    I’ve seen them in Robinson Angeles today. I bought one. It’s good! Hope it will stay in the Market.

    Jan 20, 2011 | 9:47 pm

     
  18. jr peralejo says:

    sir joel, this is jr peralejo and i sell chickens. sometimes we have birds that go up to 4 kilos. you could ask your nephew, LB for my number.

    Jan 21, 2011 | 1:06 pm

     
  19. Marketman says:

    JR, thanks for that, will definitely do that. I would like to try the large chickens… Salamat!

    Jan 21, 2011 | 1:13 pm

     
  20. Gerry says:

    The French guy from Pamora farms explained that the reason for the high cost of their capons was because they fed them as much as 10kg of milk. I am tempted to try it out but at over P3k per, I would first like to hear from someone who has tried it out.

    Jan 22, 2011 | 12:29 pm

     
  21. Helen says:

    I have also been looking for large chickens for years, so I got so excited when I saw it in S & R last week and immediately got one. Haven’t cooked it yet though. Will do so this week.

    Jan 22, 2011 | 4:13 pm

     
  22. Marketman says:

    Helen, good thing you got one. A couple of days after I wrote this post, all of the jumbo chickens were gone… sold out. Yikes. I should have bought more before writing about them maybe… :)

    Jan 22, 2011 | 5:13 pm

     
  23. Jaja says:

    I saw these being sold at Metro Gaisano Supermarket here in Cebu a few weeks ago. We wanted to buy one but they did not have a frozen one. All that they had were the ones sitting in their cold display area.

    Jan 22, 2011 | 10:21 pm

     
  24. jr peralejo says:

    sir, it would be an honor to sell you my chickens. i would tell him if ever i have 4 kilo and up birds. i had 2 dozen last christmas that was sold out in an hour!

    sir gerry, from one chicken grower to another (and feed mill operator), i might say he is correct. the feed conversion ratio to produce one free-range bird is roughly 4:1 or 4 kilos of implements (corn, soy or grass) for every kilo of meat produced. in commercial chickens, the feed conversion ratio could go from 1.5:1 or almost 1:1 provided that there is high protein content and high vitamin saturation in the feed mixture. i can’t really say what kind of protein source or vitamins feed millers put in their feeds because of trade secrets, but all i could say is they are all natural and water-soluble.

    Jan 23, 2011 | 6:40 pm

     
  25. scramoodles says:

    Buddy is spot on that one. Growers maintain their chicken to a 1.0 kilo weight, that’s why it’s rare to see 2.0 kilo chickens in the market. The growers won’t be able to sell them if they go over 1.5 kilos. However, there are those who sell dressed, organic chickens that weigh more than that, I think my friend’s aunt sells them in Teacher’s Village. There is also Sasso in the Philippines being farmed, and you know they grow big up to 4kilos. They’re fed with grass too. But I only found them way up north.

    Jan 24, 2011 | 12:28 pm

     
  26. Genie says:

    Hi MM,

    This might seem inappropriate, but I was wondering if any of you and the readers might be interested in Organic Chicken and other produce. I do door to door Organic Food Delivery. Just Email me for details. Thank You!

    Jan 30, 2011 | 10:13 am

     
  27. Inkd_chef says:

    I bought one out of curiosity on how well it will
    cook up. Roasted it and it came out nice. Did not bother to brine it but it was still
    very tasty. Bought two birds today and currently making hainanese chicken rice.
    Hopefully restaurants who serve chicken rice start using them since the small ones lack
    the fat.

    Jan 31, 2011 | 5:42 pm

     
  28. pilar ladioray says:

    wonder where i can find deboning services fo big chickens. i usually ask my suki at the market to do this for me.

    Dec 12, 2012 | 4:56 pm

     
 

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