There are Many Differences Between White Chicken Meat and Dark Chicken Meat.
Differences Between White and Dark Chicken Meat
Resources > References > Differences Between White and Dark Chicken Meat

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White Meat Chicken vs Dark Meat Chicken

Chickens have both White Meat (Chicken Breasts) and Dark Meat (Chicken Leg, Back and Neck). The Chicken Wings can contain both White Meat and Dark Meat depending on the work load of the bird. 

Diners typically favor one type of meat or the other. In fact, whole countries have preferences for one type or the other. The United States, primarily for slightly misguided health reasons, prefers White Meat. Russia and Japan prefer Dark Meat. The concept of International trade is built on such preferences, especially since there is a finite amount of White or Dark Meat on each Chicken.

When given a choice of which portion to buy, consumers’ preference for White Meat surfaced, and sales of White Meat began to overshadow sales of Dark Meat.  According to William Roenigk, Senior Vice President of the National Chicken Council, surveys show that we Americans favor White Chicken Meat over Dark Chicken Meat by a 2-to-1 margin. When the public’s buying habits are analyzed, we actually purchase 4 times as much White Chicken Meat as Dark Chicken Meat. This is true historically as well.  Since records have been kept, the tender Chicken Breast has always been the most sought after Chicken part in the United States.  There are a few reasons for this preference.

Historically, the Chicken Legs of traditional, farm-raised Chickens were very tough after propelling the bird around the farmyard, pecking and scratching for months or years. The old red hen running around the storied family farm undoubtedly had some well-muscled and tough but tasty limbs. Today, though, most of us don’t raise our own Free-Range Chickens. Most of us purchase our Factory-Bird Chickens at retail. Factory Birds, unfortunately, don’t do a lot of running and scratching. Consequently, their Dark Meat, i.e. leg meat, is not as tough as it once was in that old red hen. In other words, Dark Meat has become much more tender.

The other major reason for the preference is that since the 1960’s Americans have been under the misimpression that White Meat is much healthier than Dark Meat as the result of the poultry industry extolling the health benefits of White Meat, which was being sold at higher profit margins. The industry didn’t malign Dark Meat, but didn’t promote it either, and it fell out of favor.

Health is the primary reason given by today’s consumers for why they prefer White Meat over Dark Meat (again according to William Roenigk). As with the reputed toughness of Dark Meat, we are similarly misinformed about The Health Differences between White Meat and Dark Meat.

Along with diner preferences, the other important thing to remember about White Chicken Meat and Dark Chicken Meat is that they have different densities (muscle, Connective Tissue) and Fat contents. The difference in their makeup accounts for their health differences and why they cook differently. As a general rule, White Meat is healthier and cooks more quickly than Dark Meat, especially if there is bone involved. 

Smart Kitchen covers much more of the specifics in the Resource links for each subject and addresses the cooking issues in the Whole Chicken Exercise.