Sadly, the world is full of terrible poultry products based on chickens spending their short lives under miserable circumstances. They are raised in huge production houses without seeing any grass, herbs or worms through their entire life. Furthermore, the chickens have been bred to grow unnaturally fast, meaning that one chicken can go from 40 grams to two kilos in just 38 days. The consequence for the animal is that it often cannot carry its own weight. In other words: A chicken farmed like this has very little to do with the way a chicken is supposed to live and that compromises the welfare as well as the quality of the meat.
Texture is important
A chicken that has only had 38 days to get the right size for slaughtering will have a very different texture to the one of a free range chicken. What you might confuse with tenderness is simply meat fibers without strength. As you presumably know, it takes a bit of exercise to build strong muscles and mass produced chickens do not have the space or time for that. Just to make things worse, a lot of chicken meat is pumped with water breaking down the texture even more.
Meet the Bresse chicken
On the other hand, some chickens are still raised with dignity. The best example might be the Bresse chicken from the eastern part of France and this is the chicken that Nimb Brasserie uses for its whole roasted chicken serving. Since 1957, the Bresse chicken has had a protected designation of origin, meaning that the product can only be produced in the Bresse region. Within the region, the farmers have to follow the strict production rules in order to use the brand.
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Worldwide, more than 50 billion chickens are raised each year and just around 1.2 million of these are Bresse chickens. On of the reasons for this limited number is the great amount of space required for the chickens. The Bresse chickens live the majority of their life on pasture and each chicken must have 10 m2 of land.
There, they enjoy four months of freedom finding herbs, grass and insects before they go through a fattening process inside. The diet consists of corn and milk, the latter also to whiten the skin of the chicken.
A different chicken experience
The life of a Bresse chicken has a very big influence on the way the meat feels and tastes like. The first thing you will notice is that especially the thighs are darker, having an almost milk chocolate-like color. This is due to the fact that the Bresse chickens have been moving around building up muscle mass and enhancing the blood circulation in the meat.
You will realize that the texture of the meat is very different to that of a industrial chicken. It is firm with a delicate bite to it without being tough at all. Finally, the flavour is much more intense with a deep meaty flavour.
Just around 10 percent of the Bresse chickens are being exported and therefore you will not be able to find it in many restaurants outside France. At Nimb Brasserie the chefs have tested almost every free range chicken before they decided to use the Bresse chicken. It is not at all the cheapest chicken on the market but it is well worth the extra money.