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Whole Foods stops carrying Eberly poultry!


dagordon
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"Ah, memories of chicken at Zuni Cafe... we thought that we had been exaggerating how good the chicken there was in our memories of our first time there, but we were back two months ago and had our minds blown yet again."

da- you may know this but, zuni cafe presalts their chickens (and many other things) up to 3 days before roasting. this cooking method may be one aspect of what makes their roast birds so memorable. it's all explained in the zuni cafe cookbook.

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"Ah, memories of chicken at Zuni Cafe... we thought that we had been exaggerating how good the chicken there was in our memories of our first time there, but we were back two months ago and had our minds blown yet again."

da- you may know this but, zuni cafe presalts their chickens (and many other things) up to 3 days before roasting. this cooking method may be one aspect of what makes their roast birds so memorable. it's all explained in the zuni cafe cookbook.

There's a good thread about pre-salting from this fall. It includes a link to the Zuni Cafe recipe. Which is really good.

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I've never seen Eberly chickens (at least packaged as such) at L. Halteman at the RTM. However, Giunta's Prime Shop carries Eberly chickens, capons and cornish game hens. I love the Eberly poultry, too. I most recently made the capon (surgically altered, not chemically) purchased at Giunta's and it was incredible. Giunta's Prime Shop is located in the former A.A. Halteman space, which is between Iovine's and L. Halteman.

An update: the cornish hens and chicken parts sold at Giunta's Prime Shop are Bell & Evans. Eberly whole chickens are available, both in small and roaster sizes. Eberly capons were available before the holidays; check with Charlie Giunta if you want them, they can probably be special ordered.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Whole Foods has officially pissed me off one too many times. If I ever go there again it will be with a pet lobster on a leash behind me following a trail of foie gras bits that I will toss it as food.

don't mean to hijack the thread into a Whole Foods slamfest, but I agree.

Love their selection of produce, love their bakery and their fish counter, but the meat and poultry section is horrible. I haven't bought poultry there for a while, but the last time I was there, the guy behind the counter was explaining to the customer that the meat they sell is "pretty much organic" (at 2x the price of anywhere else) Ugh!

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Pontormo, you have reason to believe that these too are Bell & Evans?

Dag--in the interest of economizing on space, I won't reproduce your photo, but, no. I haven't seen that particular type around here, though I believe you guys in PA belong to the same large WF region as we do in D.C.; headquarters are in Rockville, Maryland.

The higher price and label are not the same. You should ask the Team Leader in the Meat Department. The chicken with "air-chilled" on the label and lower prices are Bell & Evans. Same with beef; you no longer see Colman's on the label, but the ground beef is Colman's. I'm not sure if WF did the same thing with Niman Ranch and pork, but I think that's the case.

I just ranted over at my local foodboard about the quality of the chicken leg quarters, i.e. in terms of sloppy butchering. Cautionary note: you're paying for the unsaleable backs, sometimes the entire backbone, tail, etc., and clinging bits of gutsy goo. They're not a bargain on sale and I have to wonder if this is not a matter of poor quality control, but a consumer-unfriendly way to increase the profit margin in an industry that is not associated with wealth.

* * *

It's great to have insights from a poultry farmer. Sounds a bit like things Pollan was saying, though I don't recall the companies and sites of farms he surveyed.

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I've never seen Eberly chickens (at least packaged as such) at L. Halteman at the RTM. However, Giunta's Prime Shop carries Eberly chickens, capons and cornish game hens. I love the Eberly poultry, too. I most recently made the capon (surgically altered, not chemically) purchased at Giunta's and it was incredible. Giunta's Prime Shop is located in the former A.A. Halteman space, which is between Iovine's and L. Halteman.

An update: the cornish hens and chicken parts sold at Giunta's Prime Shop are Bell & Evans. Eberly whole chickens are available, both in small and roaster sizes. Eberly capons were available before the holidays; check with Charlie Giunta if you want them, they can probably be special ordered.

According to Charlie the loose chicken wings at Giunta's are Eberly too...

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I know the Eberly chickens are good, but for those of you in Phily, you’re not that far away from farms that offer premium quality birds. Most people think that a shiny USDA packing facility is the way to go but a farm-slaughtered bird is even better. They get them while they are still sleepy in the morning and they don’t stress out building up lactic acid. Plus you should save some money. They are out of season now but keep it in mind for the late spring.

BTW, I don’t want to trash WF. It’s the poultry thing that bothers me. A chicken is not just a chicken. Their organic birds are still a step up and are better for the planet, there is just other levels.

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I know the Eberly chickens are good, but for those of you in Phily, you’re not that far away from farms that offer premium quality birds.  Most people think that a shiny USDA packing facility is the way to go but a farm-slaughtered bird is even better.  They get them while they are still sleepy in the morning and they don’t stress out building up lactic acid.  Plus you should save some money.  They are out of season now but keep it in mind for the late spring.

Any particular farms you recommend? I'm there. I do love my Meadow Run Farm eggs...

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I know the Eberly chickens are good, but for those of you in Phily, you’re not that far away from farms that offer premium quality birds.  Most people think that a shiny USDA packing facility is the way to go but a farm-slaughtered bird is even better.  They get them while they are still sleepy in the morning and they don’t stress out building up lactic acid.  Plus you should save some money.  They are out of season now but keep it in mind for the late spring.

BTW, I don’t want to trash WF.  It’s the poultry thing that bothers me.  A chicken is not just a chicken.  Their organic birds are still a step up and are better for the planet, there is just other levels.

Would you be referring to farms in Lancaster County and environs?

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I don't know the farms personally being from the other side of the country but if you take a look at:

http://apppa.org/producers.htm#Pennsylvania

you may get a good start. These are the farms that are fighting to keep pasture raised chickens around. Pennsylvania has a good number. I don't have a list of the Amish farms. There is a small Amish poultry processing place in Mifflinburg called Reiff's Poultry Dressing. Eli Reiff has been processing for many years. Just like how a butcher can help select a great cut of beef there only small numbers of small scale poultry processors left. They may just die off.

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Interesting... I sent a strongly worded email to whole foods expressing my disappointment over no more eberly and berating the whole foods branded chickens, and i just got an email from the manager of the meat dept at the 9th st whole foods saying that they'll continue supplying whole eberly birds.

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This sounds like an issue that might be interesting to more than the PA forum.

WF may be recognizing the kinds of skepticism that Michael Pollan--and others--have raised when it comes to the label "natural"; perhaps the corporate attitude is that "organic" is viewed more reassuringly.

Nonetheless, when I first encountered Bell & Evans in a small grocery store out west, I didn't think much of it because it was neither free-range nor organic. Now that the "365" or store=brand of WF is Bell & Evans, the organic birds with the WF label are being presented as the "premium" label.

Go look at the spice jars. WF has an organic, expensive line with clear rectangular bottles (!!!!! not good for contents), white letters "etched" directly on the glass and silver metal caps. The less costly store brand comes with a big ol paper label glued onto cylindrical clear bottles (cheaper to produce; label actually protects more) and a dark green screw-on cap.

For Whole Foods, "organic" means "premium". When the FDA is sanctioning cloned animals and bio-engineered crops are looming in the not-too-distant future, I may very well be susceptible and soothed...

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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This thread inspired me to buy an Eberly chicken at Giunta's last week, which I roasted last night following the Zuni Cafe method. It was good; both juicy and flavorful. I look forward to polishing off the leftovers tonight.

That said, it wasn't noticeably better than the last two supermarket chickens I roasted the same way. I doubt that I could have told the difference in a blind tasting.

Chickens I've bought from Meadow Run Farms (at the South & Passyunk farmers' market) remain the best I've gotten in Philadelphia-- unfortunately, they haven't come to that market for a couple of years, and I don't know if they're still available in the city.

Vadouvan, I think I need to get in touch with you about one of those French-Canadian birds. Sacre bleu!

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Chickens I've bought from Meadow Run Farms (at the South & Passyunk farmers' market) remain the best I've gotten in Philadelphia-- unfortunately, they haven't come to that market for a couple of years, and I don't know if they're still available in the city.

The Fair Food Farmstand has frozen Meadow Run Farm chickens, we actually have one thawing now. Given that you can apparently make arrangements w/ the Fair Food Farmstand to get Country Time pork unfrozen (even though it's regularly sold frozen there) maybe you can do the same thing w/ the Meadow Run Farm chickens.

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Oh good, I'll head over to Fair Food next time I'm at Reading Terminal.

I don't know about buying unfrozen chickens. My understanding-- but I'm happy to be corrected if this is wrong-- is that they do their slaughtering during one season (spring?), and that any chicken you buy during the year is from a chicken killed then.

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Does your WF carry kosher chickens?

I'll put a Wise organic or even an Empire chicken against all those other brands for flavor and texture!

Empire chickens are our soup chickens. They make a good roast chicken but I always found them to be unpleasantly hairy.

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Does your WF carry kosher chickens?

I'll put a Wise organic or even an Empire chicken against all those other brands for flavor and texture!

Empire chickens are our soup chickens. They make a good roast chicken but I always found them to be unpleasantly hairy.

Hairy chicken? Is that like feathery beef? :raz:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Does your WF carry kosher chickens?

I'll put a Wise organic or even an Empire chicken against all those other brands for flavor and texture!

Empire chickens are our soup chickens. They make a good roast chicken but I always found them to be unpleasantly hairy.

Kosher chickens are hand plucked. Non-kosher chickens are dunked in a warm water bath and machine plucked. Some say that because Kosher poultry is not subjected to a warm water bath, that that accounts for a difference in taste. Personally, I think it has to do with the process of soaking the Kosher poultry in salt.

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I don't know if you guys have Trader Joe's in the city, but they carry Empire. The birds are more costly than Eberly at WF--or around the same price.

Andrew, as for Zunied E-bird, the thing I appreciated is the fact that the company sells smaller birds weighing less than the norm of 4.5-lbs. & higher. The standard line is that not only were tiny birds typical back in the golden era of Michael Pollan's great-great grandmother, but the martyred flesh would be of a younger, and therefore, more tender fowl.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Oh good, I'll head over to Fair Food next time I'm at Reading Terminal. 

I don't know about buying unfrozen chickens.  My understanding-- but I'm happy to be corrected if this is wrong-- is that they do their slaughtering during one season (spring?), and that any chicken you buy during the year is from a chicken killed then.

In that area the season is basically Memorial day through Labor day. They can't put the birds outside in the cold weather since they never get older than 7-8 weeks.

Edited by StanSherman (log)
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Empire chickens are pretty common, I think; at least, they carry them at my neighborhood Superfresh (5th and Spruce).

Stan, thanks for the chicken season information. Maybe I'll ask about fresh chickens this summer.

Pontormo, I liked the small size of the Eberly bird: for one thing, it's more convenient for two people, and of course that's what the Zuni recipe calls for. But I didn't find it to be as tender as the chickens of yesteryear (when men were men, women were women, and chickens were ducks). Ah well.

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Kosher chickens are hand plucked. Non-kosher chickens are dunked in a warm water bath and machine plucked.  Some say that because Kosher poultry is not subjected to a warm water bath, that that accounts for a difference in taste. Personally, I think it has to do with the process of soaking the Kosher poultry in salt.

They are all *scalded* in a water bath at about 145 for several seconds to loosen the feathers. Then several at a time are placed into a "plucker" It's a drum type maching with rubber fingers that looks a little like a cement mixer. They chickens roll around in there for 20-30 seconds. Then they are gutted and chilled.

What makes them Kosher is the use of a Shoshet and then soaked. In reality there are a few fairly high production Kosher facilities around.

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Oh good, I'll head over to Fair Food next time I'm at Reading Terminal. 

I don't know about buying unfrozen chickens.  My understanding-- but I'm happy to be corrected if this is wrong-- is that they do their slaughtering during one season (spring?), and that any chicken you buy during the year is from a chicken killed then.

In that area the season is basically Memorial day through Labor day. They can't put the birds outside in the cold weather since they never get older than 7-8 weeks.

It might still be worth it to find out whether the Meadow Run Farm birds at the Fair Food Farmstand are shipped there frozen, or if they're thawed before shipping, in which case the frozen birds there have been frozen twice, and in which case it might be worth it to get one before it's been frozen for the second time.

In any case we're making our Meadow Run Farm chicken purchased frozen tonight, I'll share how it goes.

Oh, and FWIW, we actually didn't like the Zuni recipe for Eberly chicken as much as the (much simpler and quicker) recipe for roasted chicken from colicchio's "think like a chef". (though we've only made a Zuni Eberly once.) actually, it's not really much of a recipe. just rub the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper, insert rosemary and thyme into the cavity, truss, sear the chicken on each side, and then roast at 375.

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I don't know if you guys have Trader Joe's in the city, but they carry Empire.  The birds are more costly than Eberly at WF--or around the same price.

Andrew, as for Zunied E-bird, the thing I appreciated is the fact that the company sells smaller birds weighing less than the norm of 4.5-lbs. & higher.  The standard line is that not only were tiny birds typical back in the golden era of Michael Pollan's great-great grandmother, but the martyred flesh would be of a younger, and therefore, more tender fowl.

Grandma's bird was actually a couple of weeks older. A different breed. The current beed you are getting grows so fast it can barely live beyond 8 weeks. Most of the 4-5.5 lb. birds are 46 days. There is so much BS out there about chickens the truth is pretty much lost in the noise.

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