One of the supermarket chains near our Connecticut offices recently started selling a new brand of chicken called “Smart Chicken.” According to MBA Poultry, the company that produces Smart Chicken , the big difference between its product and every other kind of chicken available in the United States is the way its chickens are chilled after slaughter. Other U.S. processors use an ice-water bath; Smart Chicken uses purified chilled air instead, as European processors do. The advantages to this are that the chickens don’t come in contact with one another as they do in a communal water bath (eliminating the possibility of bacterial cross-contamination), and their natural juices aren’t washed away and replaced with water, so they taste more like chicken should. The chickens are raised naturally on vegetarian feed, and they don’t receive antibiotics.
Ever the skeptics, we bought some Smart Chicken breasts and pitted them against three other national brands, two of which were “natural,” in an impromptu, unscientific blind tasting. While Smart Chicken didn’t win by a landslide, its firm, juicy texture and full, chickeny flavor made it the favorite of the majority. It has since become my favorite brand, not only because of its flavor, but also because I think it’s butchered better than the other brands available in my area, so I don’t have to do as much trimming of unwanted fat and skin.
Where to find it. Smart Chicken is availiable in most states. Check out the grocery-store finder at www.smartchicken.com to see if it’s carried in a store near you. If not, you can order through the web site.