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chickens, especially, considered, pounds and fowl

CHICKEN. The word "chicken" formerly meant "young fowl," but usage has applied it to fowls of all ages, the young birds being designated as "spring chickens," "broilers," etc.

The fowl has been reared for food for so many centuries that its first conversion from its wild ancestors is lost in tradition. Poultry raising has been practiced in Europe from the earliest recorded times, and domestic fowl were plentiful in Great Britain long before the Roman invasion.

The best known types of chickens especially suitable for table purposes are the many varieties of the Brahma (very large birds), Cochin, Langshan, Dorking, Orp ington, Plymouth Rock, Wyandotte and Houdan. Representative examples of all of these, except the Dorking, are shown on the page illustration preceding. Attention is also directed to the consideration of fowls from the standpoint of egg production in the article on EGGS.

To the general rules for selection given in the article on Poultry (which see) may be added that, thick scales on the legs, thin necks and dark colored thighs are signs of toughness in chickens. A good table bird should have a large full breast and, at other points also, a large proportion of meat to the size of the bones—long thin legs and wings are especially undesirable.

Many heated controversies have been held over the question as to whether drawn or undrawn poultry keeps better. The advocates of the "undrawn" method appear to have the best arguments on their side.

Chickens should be starved for at least twenty-four hours before killing. Those that have been killed with partially filled crops should be avoided, as the disintegra tion of the grain quickly discolors the flesh. In common with all other meats, chickens should be thoroughly cooled for a couple of days before cooking.

Dry-picked chickens will keep longer than scalded birds. The plucking should be performed immediately after killing.

Capons are considered a little choicer—more tender and of higher flavor—than ordinary fowl. They can be distinguished by the pale and shriveled appearance of the combs, the undeveloped condition of the spurs and especially round well-fleshed bodies.

Poniards, or Spayed hens, are in France considered particularly delicate also, but in this country they are not rated as much, if any, better than first-class pullets.

Milk-fed Chickens are those fattened for market chiefly on milk-soaked bread. Properly regulated, the diet gives birds with very delicate flesh.

A "Squab Chicken" should average pound to pounds in weight ; a "broiler" to 2 ; one to "sauter," about pounds ; for "roasting" 3 pounds or so ; and for fricassee, 4 Pounds.

.The meat of well fattened chicken of young and medium age has about the same nutritive value as beef, but it is generally considered easier of digestion and therefore especially suitable for invalids and convalescents.

American custom generally discards as refuse various parts of the bird which are considered of value in some other countries. The head of the chicken, for example, is in Europe often left on the bird when it is cooked, as the brain is considered a titbit; cocks' combs are everywhere recognized by French cooks as a delicacy worthy of prepa ration as a separate dish or especially desirable for garnishing; and the feet, skinned and dressed, are used for making broths, etc.