How to Pick Out a Fresh Chicken

Antonelli’s Poultry has been operating at De Pasquale Square for more than a century. Chris Morris has managed the store’s daily population of 800 to 2,000 birds since 1974. He tells us how to spot a good one.

1. Buy from a reputable breeder. All farms should present a health certificate with their birds.

2. It doesn’t take a trained eye to spot a bad bird when they’re still alive. Active: good. Lethargic: bad.

3. Feathers don’t tell the whole story. Caged birds will inevitably get their feathers rubbed off, while floor birds will remain fluffy. Both will still offer great meat.

4. Supermarket “sell by” dates are usually six days after the bird has been killed, leaving you only a couple of days to use or freeze the chicken. Fresh birds (killed the day of sale or less than twenty-four hours before) will give you five to six days to plan your menu.

5. Snow-white skin may look odd to you, but that just means it hasn’t been colored. Corporate distributors add marigold-petal coloring to make the skin look buttery yellow.

6. To check freshness on an already butchered chicken press the bone that runs down the center of the breast. The blade should yield to touch.