JEFF TIEDEMAN: We've got legs and thighsDon’t discount the dark meat of poultry.
There are two kinds of people when it comes to eating poultry: Those who like white meat and those who prefer dark meat.
And the debate about which meat is better probably has been around since the first family sat down to a chicken dinner.
To me, there’s no contest. I’ve liked dark meat for as long as my memory serves me. Whenever Mom fixed chicken, my brother, Kevin, and I laid claim to the legs. (Later, we graduated to legs and thighs.) Luckily, my other brother, Chuck, preferred white meat.
And the times we got together with all of my cousins and aunts and uncles at my grandparents’ home for Thanksgiving dinner, I somehow always managed to get a turkey drumstick — even though there were more than 20 of us at the dining room table and adjacent card table.
Things haven’t changed much over the years. I still prefer the dark over white meat when we roast a chicken or turkey, and my favorite parts when we bake pheasants are the legs and thighs. (And I still have competition for the dark meat. My grandson, Rakeem, is just like me, diving into the legs and thighs whenever we have poultry.)
My fondness for dark meat is based on the belief that it’s much more flavorful and moister than white meat.
But there are those who would dismiss dark meat — be it from domestic or wild birds — because they say it is too tough.
To me, there is a simple remedy for that: slow-cooking or braising. While we occasionally cut up and fry chicken, roasting them whole at a low temperature over four hours or so in a Dutch oven is our preference. And when we do turkey, it’s always cooked slowly for several hours in a roaster. The dark meat in both cases is fall-off-the-bone.
When it comes to the dark meat of wild birds, I employ a couple of slow-cooking techniques. And I do this a lot, since a hunting companion of mine always gives me his pheasant legs and thighs and any sharp-tailed grouse (all dark meat) he shoots.
I use a Dutch oven for baked pheasant, which consists of both white (breast) and dark (thigh) meat, my favorite. (See recipe for baked pheasant at www.grandforksherald.com/event/ tag/group/Life/tag/food/.)
The pheasant legs, on the other hand, are cooked in a pot of water (which is strained and frozen to be substituted for chicken broth in recipes or as a soup stock), cooled, deboned and shredded for use in a homemade barbecue sauce. (I’ve also used duck and goose legs.)
Any way you slice it, dark meat rules.
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at 701-780-1136 or toll-free at 800-477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.