Chicken, Capon or Squab?

big white chicken
photo credit: slena

Chicken Types And Flavor

Chickens are categorized by their age and weight. The age of the chicken determines the proper method for cooking. The fat content of the bird, size and age as well as cooking method will also affect the flavor. For the best results use the proper method for the type of chicken you choose. Also, when possible purchase the chicken from a store that sells high quality birds.


Chickens are graded with the standard USDA classifications of A, B, C. The highest grade is "A" and this is the grade you should look for in your super market. The lower the grade, the older, and less tender and usable the meat will be. The grade of the chicken appears on a tag on the bird. You can always ask the butcher what grade chickens they sell before you make your purchase.
American Name French Term Description Age Weight Cooking Method
Broiler Poulet Nouveau Younger, smallish chicken 2 -3 months old 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 lbs. Broil, Grill, Roast
Capon, Caponette Chapon Specially fed castrated male rooster. Tender, juicy, flavorful meat. 7 - 10 months 4 - 10 lbs. Roast, Casserole, Poach, Fricassee
Fryer Poulet de Grain (small) Poulet Reine (larger) Smallish, older chickens 3-5 months old 2 -3 lbs. Broil, Fry
Roaster Poularde or Poulet Gras Poularde A fat roasting chicken 3 -5 months old 2 -3 lbs. Roast, Casserole, Poach, Fricassee
Old Hen, Cock, Rooster Vielle Poule Coq Older hen or rooster over 12 months old over 3 lbs. Stew, Fricassee, Soup, Pressure Cook
Range or Free Range Chickens n/a A typical chicken lives indoors in about 1'sqare foot of space. Range chickens are allowed double that, plus allowed time to roam outdoors. They are fed special diets, and are commonly but not always hormone, free, and "vegetarian" fed. This is said to produce a more flavorful "chickeny" tasting meat. 10 - 12 weeks old 4 1/2 lbs. Roast, Casserole, Poach, Fricassee
Rock Cornish Hen n/a Hybrid breed of the Cornish and White Rock chickens 4-6 weeks old 2 1/2 lbs. Broil or Roast
Squab Chicken Poussin Coquelet (or pousson in Louisiana) Small chicken 4-6 week old 3/4 - 1 lb Broil, Grill, or Roast
Squab (true) Pigeon' A fattened pigeon that is not allowed to fly (so it's tender rather than sinewy) 4 weeks old 1 lb. Roast
Stewing chicken Poule de l' Annee Older, larger chicken 10 -12 months old over 3 lbs. Stew, Fricassee

How To Cut Up A Chicken

    How To Cut Up A Whole Chicken - How to cut up chicken. An illustrated guide to the most efficient way to cut up and disjoint a whole chicken.


    Favorite Recipes

    Indian Spiced Roasted Chicken - Drizzle the pan sauce over the chicken before serving.  I love this recipe!

    Curry Chicken - Curry Chicken recipe based on a recipe by Madhur Jaffrey, this spicy chicken is flavored with a traditional Indian spices including cardamom, pepper, chiles, turmeric, garlic, ginger, cumin as well as fresh coconut and tomatoes.


    Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.