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The word Poultry is generally used to mean domesticated birds (chicken, turkey, duck), as opposed to wild birds.

In European Directive 90/539/EEC (modified by Directive 92/65/EEC), they define Poultry as: "fowl, turkeys, guinea fowl, ducks, geese, quails, pigeons, pheasants, partridges and rarities reared or kept in captivity for breeding, the production of meat or eggs for consumption, or for re-stocking supplies of game."

A spur is the bony, single claw that grows on the leg, between the knee and the foot, of male birds such as roosters, turkeys, guinea fowl, partridges, and pheasants. The male bird uses it as a weapon in fights.

Cooking Tips

Salt the inside of the cavity, rather than the outside, as salt on the outside won't penetrate the flesh to flavour it.

When cooking Poultry that was frozen, make sure that it is completely thawed -- check inside it for ice. If there's still ice, don't cook it yet. Frozen or cooler parts may prevent that part of the meat from coming up to the safe temperature.

In general, cook until internal temperature reaches 185 F (85 C). You make also wish to consult the Safe Cooking Temperatures entry to see what is recommended by the Health Authorities where you live.


While it is true that the skin of Poultry has a lot of fat in it, it's also true that the skin holds a great deal of flavour. If you want to avoid eating the skin, consider cooking with it on and removing it afterward. If you do remove the skin before cooking, you will probably need to work a little harder at keeping your piece of Poultry moist, including basting it with an oil or wrapping it with a strip of bacon, which leaves you no further ahead.

You need to presume that any Poultry may carry salmonella. Make sure that all cutting boards and surfaces are well washed with hot, soapy water before putting any other food on them. Don't let uncooked Poultry juices mingle with any other food, and watch out, too, for leaky chicken bags touching your lettuce in the grocery cart at the store or in the fridge at home. Cook all Poultry until the safe internal temperature has been reached.

History Notes

Poultry was once reserved for the rich. In the Medieval hierarchy of thought, birds were more "noble food" because they lived in the air, not on the ground. And any peasants that raised Poultry couldn't afford to eat them, as they were needed for egg production. After the Second World War, modern mass production methods were developed which made chickens affordable and accessible to ordinary people like us, to the point where they became considered a bargain meat.

Literature & Lore

"I have been invited to Dinner, where I have seen the good Gentlewoman of the House sweat more in cutting up of a Fowl, than the Cookmaid in roasting it; and when she had foundly beliquor'd her joints, hath suckt her knuckles, and to work with them again in the Dish; at the sight whereof my belly hath been three quarters full, before I had swallowed one bit. Wherefore avoid clapping your fingers in your mouth and lick them, although you have burnt them with carving." -- Hannah Woolley. The Gentlewomans Companion. London. 1673.

"I am very fond of second courses, and devoutly believe that the whole gallinaceous family was made to enrich our larders and to deck our tables.

From the quail to the turkey, whenever we find a fowl of this class, we are sure to find too, light aliment, full of flavour, and just as fit for the convalescent as for the man of the most robust health.

Which one of us, condemned to the fare of the fathers of the desert, would not have smiled at the idea of a well-carved chicken's wing, announcing his rapid rendition to civilized life?

We are not satisfied with the flavour nature has given to gallinaceous fowls, art has taken possession of them, and under the pretext of ameliorating, has made martyrs of them. They have not only been deprived of the means of reproduction, but they have been kept in solitude and darkness, and forced to eat until they were led to an unnatural state of fatness.

It is very true that this unnatural grease is very delicious, and that this damnable skill gives them the fineness and succulence which are the delight of our best tables.

Thus ameliorated, the fowl is to the kitchen what the canvass is to painters. To charlatans it is the cap of Fortunatus, and is served up boiled, roasted, fried, hot, cold, whole or dismembered, with or without sauce, broiled, stuffed, and always with equal success.

Three portions of old France disputed for the honor of furnishing the best fowls, viz: Caux, Mans, and Bresse."

-- Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. The Physiology of Taste, Project Gutenberg, Apr 2004. First published Dec 1825.

"A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week,
But I'm damned if I see how the helican."
-- Dixon Lanier Merritt (1879 - 1954)

See also:


Bustards; Chicken; Cornish Game Hen; Duck; Free-Range Chickens; Free-Range Total Freedom; Goose; Grouse; Guinea Fowl; Parson's Nose; Pheasant; Poultry; Poussin; Quail; Stuffing; Traditional Free-Range; Turducken

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Also called:

Geflugel (German); Pollame (Italian); Aves domésticas (Portuguese)


Oulton, Randal. "Poultry." CooksInfo.com. Published 13 October 2003; revised 13 August 2012. Web. Accessed 03/19/2018. <http://www.cooksinfo.com/poultry>.

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