Roasting chickens are those birds that tip the scales at 5 to 7 pounds. We tested whether it made sense to pay buy a premium bird, or would a mass-market type satisfy.
When tasting broiler/fryer chickens (weighing 3 to 4 pounds), we have found that spending a little more for a "premium" or kosher bird pays off. Does the same hold true for roasting chickens, which are older birds that tip the scales at 5 to 7 pounds? To find out, we gathered a representative selection. Because kosher birds are salted during processing, we brined the three other chickens to level the playing field.
Tasters did not like the mass-market roaster (from Perdue) or the supermarket sample (from Shaw's). Both birds were lacking in chicken flavor and were mushier than our favorites: the kosher bird (from Empire) and the premium bird (from Bell & Evans). These were praised for their authentic chicken flavor and superior texture. Our advice: If your market sells a kosher or premium roaster, buy it.
EMPIRE Kosher Frozen
Roasting Chicken $1.99 /lb.
The overwhelming favorite was deemed the juiciest and most flavorful. Tasters liked its "roasted flavor." Don't brine this bird.
BELL & EVANS Large
Tasters praised this juicy, "buttery" bird, which has a milder flavor than our top choice. Brine this bird for best results.
Young Chicken $1.59 /lb.
This nearly flavorless "plain Jane" chicken offended no one, but some tasters disliked the "mushy," "prechewed" texture.
PERDUE Oven Stuffer
Whole Roaster $1.79 /lb.
Tasters objected to "metallic" flavors and "spongy" breast meat, which seemed to "crumble."