Summer's only half over. Fire up the grill and throw this all-natural birdie on the barbie.
The product: Just BARE Chicken ($2 per pound for whole chicken; $3 for a package of drumsticks; and $6 for a package of boneless, skinless breast fillets, breast tenders, and thighs. Available at SuperTarget and other grocery chains. Visit www.justbarechicken.com for store locations.)
The health factor: The approach to producing healthful meat is attractive to anyone concerned about overall health. Just BARE Chicken uses family farms that raise cage-free, happier chickens. Stressed-out chickens have high cholesterol, and happy chickens don't. Just BARE farmers feed the chickens an all-natural vegetarian diet. There are no antibiotics, no hormones, no animal byproducts, and no scary chemicalsnice to know if you've read recent news about chickens being fed arsenic compounds. Also, the company doesn't plump the meat with salt solutions.
The taste factor: Bottom line, it tastes like chicken. (What else?) The company sent us whole chickens, drumsticks, skinless breasts, tenders, and thighs. Split between three Health magazine staffers, we roasted, sauteed, simmered and stewed, and then reported back. Overall, the chicken cooked up nicelynot stringy or dry, and not unnaturally plump, either. I roasted a whole chicken, and I also used skinless boneless thighs to make a French-inspired chicken and white-bean stew.
Editors pick: I love cooking with a whole chicken; I can make a few different meals out of the meat and save the bones for stock. But, crunched for time, I'd reach for skinless, boneless thighs. Thigh meat doesn't dry out as easily as breast meat if you overcook it a little, and it's more flavorful than white meat. Plus, it cooks quickly, has more iron and zinc than breast meat, and is a budget-friendly alternative. (Boneless, skinless breasts can often cost more than buying a whole chicken.)
Why we love it: First, we like Just BAREs recyclable see-through packaging as opposed to the traditional Styrofoam tray. Most of all, we like the traceability. With all the food safety scares recently in this country, it's absolutely great that you can go to the Just BARE Chicken website, plug in the code on your package of chicken, and find out exactly which family farm raised your chicken. Hello, FDA, are you paying attention?