Learn why you want to be buying air chilled chicken instead of regular chicken. If you like chicken with a crispy skin you are going to want to know where to get air chilled.
How closely do you read packages?
Do you know what everything means that you find on a package of chicken?
Most chicken you find in the store will say contains some percentage of retained water.
Have you every noticed that or wondered why that is?
Or have you seen the label "air chilled" listed on that packaging. Maybe they are wanting you to taste the "air chilled difference".
It's time to answer those questions and show you why chicken has retained water, what air chilled means, and why it even matters.
What is Air Chilled Chicken?
When chicken is being processed, one of the steps is to cool the chicken down. The easiest, quickest, and cheapest way to do that is to dunk it in really cold water. When that is done the chicken will absorb some of that water. The flavor is literally watered down.
Chicken that is air chilled is instead blasted with cold air until it reaches a safe temperature below 40 degree (which I hear takes round 3 hours) . Since the chicken is not dunked in water, it doesn't retain water.
There is always a chance that the water used to chill the chicken could be contaminated either from it's source or from being re-used to dunk chicken after chicken. That is something that of course would be monitored, but it's always going to be some chance.
Does It Taste Different?
Now let's get on to what you really want to know. Does it taste different? In every case I have had it, the answer is yes. The flavor of the chicken is better, no doubt.
If you are a fan of crispy skin on your chicken you want to do air chilled. I have learned from using wet brines mainly on turkey that it may add flavor but the skin won't crisp up very good, one reason I switched to doing dry brines for Thanksgiving.
If I had the choice I would buy it every time. Sometimes it can be more expensive or not every stores carries it which is why I don't buy it every time.
What Brands are Air Chilled?
Here are some brands you can look for that make Air Chilled Chicken in some format. Just because they are on the list doesn't necessarily mean all of the products from each brand are air chilled. Make sure to real the packaging.
|Bell & Evans|
|Maple Leaf Prime|
|Rosie the Original Organic Chicken|
If you know of a brand that we did not mention, please leave us a comment below. Thanks.
Where Can You Buy It?
I was recently surprised to see that see of the chicken at Costco under the Kirkland label was now being labelled as air chilled. Not all the chicken was yet, seem they are undergoing a change.
Whole Foods Market always carries it. This is where I was first introduced to the concept.
Hopefully the sign that Costco is selling it now, will mean more stores will begin to. For now I would look in stores that carry more specialty or organic products. Your fancy high end stores are more likely to have it.
How to Cook It
There is no difference is cooking methods for air chilled chicken. Just do what you would normally do.
Some people say that air chilled chicken cooks quicker, because it doesn't have the added moisture. I have not experimented with this yet, so I can't vouch for that, but I see the logic there.
Do You Need to Wash It?
Absolutely not. I never recommend washing chicken you run the risk of water splatter onto other surface which could spread salmonella.
You can pat it dry with paper towels and that's it. Cooking it to the proper temperature will kill any salmonella or bacteria. No need to rinse it - air chilled or not.