Chickens are one of the most widespread and common domesticated animals across the world. It is estimated that there are more than 20 billion chickens in the world, according to UN”s Food and Agriculture Organization. That’s a lot of chickens! But it’s not too surprising if you consider that humans primarily keep chickens as a source of food, both for their meat and eggs. That’s not to say that some don’t keep them as unique pets!
History of Chicken
According to The Chicken Gardener, it is believed that chickens were first domesticated approximately 10,000 years ago in Southeast Asia. However, there are different reports about where and from what the chicken we know today came from. Most recent reports argue that chickens were first domesticated in Vietnam. That being said, archeologists have discovered evidence of chicken bones in Egyptian tombs that would date them as far back as 1400 BC.
It also believes that domesticated chickens first showed up in the Americas around 1350 AD. However, no matter when and where chickens came from, it should be said that they likely weren’t the same kind of chickens we are familiar with today. Centuries ago, chickens didn’t have the same access to water and feed like they do today. According to The Happy Chicken Coop, that means they didn’t lay eggs at the same rate they now do and didn’t grow the same size we’re used to seeing. In fact, chicken meat was really only eaten on special occasions and eggs were considered a luxury.
When we fast forward to the 1900’s and take a closer look at chickens in the United States, it’s immediately obvious that chickens were typically raised in small numbers on family farms. Families with hundreds of chickens would typically sell eggs as their primary source of income.
Following the Great Depression, raising chickens was encouraged because they were small and
produced eggs. It was around the 1940’s that the way chicken was prepared and sold began to change. In 1949, the USDA grading program for eggs began and chickens were starting to become raised purposefully. By the 1950’s, chicken was no longer a luxury food and just about every family could afford chicken. This was supported by the invention of refrigeration in 1950.
Fortunately, the 1970’s saw improvements in disease eradication programs as well as advancements in nutrition, which made chicken an even more desirable part of the American diet. It was during the 1990’s that we began to see a bigger movement toward organic chickens. By 1992, chicken surpassed pork and beef as the top-selling meat.
Now, there are around 280 million “laying birds” in the U.S. according to The Happy Chicken Coop. Which leads to one popular question: what in the world can you do with all that chicken?
Specifically how you cook chicken depends on what you’re working with in terms of the whole bird, the breasts, the thighs, or wings. However, to make sure you’re cooking chicken in the safest way possible, to avoid potential food-related illnesses, be sure the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. As for how you cook the chicken, that depends entirely on what you’re in the mood for. Your options include, but aren’t limited to grilling, frying, sautéing, or baking.
For some super delicious ways to make and enjoy chicken, check out a few popular recipes below.
Hellman’s Parmesan Chicken (Inspired by Hellman’s)
- 1/4 C grated parmesan cheese
- 4 tsp Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1/2 C Hellman’s mayonnaise
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
- In a small bowl, combine the cheese and mayonnaise
- Spread the mixture over the chicken breasts
- Top each chicken breast with the seasoned bread crumbs
- Bake for 20 minutes, until the middle of each breast registers 165 degrees
Spatchcock Roasted Chicken Recipe (Inspired by The Food Network)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- one 3 1/2- 4-lb whole chicken
- 6 fresh thyme sprigs
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
- Lay the chicken on a cutting board breast-side down, with the legs facing you
- Use kitchen shears to remove the backbone
- Open the chicken like a book to reveal the ribs and breast bone
- Use a chef’s knife to score the chest bone vertically down the middle then, using your hands, crack the chest bone and flatten the breasts and rib cage
- Season the chicken all over with 2 tsp salt and a good amount of pepper
- Lay the thyme sprigs in the middle of a rimmed baking sheet
- Place the chicken on top of the thyme sprigs, skin-side up
- Roast the chicken for approximately 40 minutes until the skin is golden brown and the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees F
Chicken Paillard (Inspired by The Food Network)
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil – for drizzling
- 2 tbsp fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
- coarse salt and black pepper
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 5-oz bag mixed baby salad greens
- 4 small whole chicken breasts (or 2 large)
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme – stripped, finely chopped
- 1 lemon – zested, juiced
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 C chicken stock or chicken broth
- Preheat a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat
- Place the chicken in a shallow baking dish and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil
- Combine the chopped herbs and lemon zest, then sprinkle over the chicken
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper
- Use your hands to rub the chicken and coat with an even amount of herbs and seasonings
- Transfer the chicken to a hot skillet in a single layer and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side
- Cover the chicken loosely with foil to keep warm and repeat with the rest of the cutlets
- Return the pan to the heat and add butter
- When the butter has melted, add flour and cook for a minute or two to make a roux
- Whisk in the chicken broth
- When thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove the pan from the heat
- Toss the salad greens with lemon juice and coarse salt
- Drizzle 2 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil around the bowl and re-toss the greens
- To serve, cover the bottom of a dinner plate with warm sauce
- Top with a pile of the greens then add 2 chicken cutlets
Chicken Spaghetti with Ro-tel tomatoes (Inspired by Ro-Tel)
- 1 can cream of mushroom soup
- 1 can chicken broth
- 1 lb Velveeta cheese – cubed
- 4-6 chicken breasts – cooked, chopped
- 1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes
- 12 oz spaghetti – cooked, drained
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- In a bowl, mix the soup, Ro-Tel, broth, and tomatoes
- In a 9×13 greased casserole dish, layer the spaghetti, chicken, soup mix, and cheese
- Bake for 30-45 minutes until heated through and the cheese is melted
- Remove from the oven and stir to mix
- Add salt and pepper as needed to taste
Random/Interesting Chicken Facts
Now let’s have even more fun. Check out some of the most random and interesting facts out there about the white meat we all know and love.
- Have you heard that chickens can’t fly? They’re actually not completely flightless. They can become airborne enough to make it into a tree.
- There are more chickens int he world than any other bird species
- For those who honor Good Friday, meat cannot be eaten. That includes chicken! However, go ahead and eat chicken on Easter.
- The color of chicken eggs actually depends on the breed of chicken and the color of the egg has nothing to do with its nutritional value. Typically, chickens with white earlobes lay white eggs while chickens with red or brown ear lobes lay brown eggs.
- Chickens actually have their own language. According to com, chickens make more than 30 different sounds and each flock of birds has its own tone.
- The average American consumes approximately 80 pounds of chicken per year, according to com.
- The average cooked chicken meal weighing about 120 grams is 337 calories. However, if you fry the chicken, you’re looking at twice as many calories. Another fact from com!
- Chickens are the closest living relative of the tyrannosaur. How cool is that?
- Chicken meat is loaded with vitamins B12, B6, B3, zinc, kalium, and phosphorus.
- More than 29 million eggs are consumed in England each day.
Now that you know just about everything worth to know about chicken, don’t forget to share your new knowledge with your friends!