Free range chicken (nati koli or gauti) are allowed to roam freely and are not coped up in a cage like factory-style farming. Many free-range chickens are allowed to roam free to eat bugs, seeds, berries and other natural vegetation. The chickens may come home to roost in a coop at night, or they may be essentially wild and roost in trees or any place they feel is safe. They are fed natural food in an natural habitat. This leads to a much leaner chicken, fat free and free from any injected chemicals.
The advantages of free range is that it has less fat, is juicy, thin and has translucent skin, taste and firm flesh but not tough. However, the cost of a free range chicken will be much more than a broiler. Free range chicken is difficult to find in our Indian supermarkets but the eggs are now available in many stores. You can check with you’re local chicken shop. I did a post/recipe on free range eggs recently and here it is.
Spot the difference: free range (left) & broiler (right)
Organic chickens are not only free to roam but are also fed grains which are organic. They are also certified as organic. They cost much more than the free range or the broiler and I haven’t come across anyone in India producing enough to supply to large scale supermarkets.
Benefits of free range or organic vs broiler:
- One serving of organic, free-range chicken provides you with more protein than a serving of conventional chicken.
- Organic, free-range chicken provides healthier levels of saturated fat and the most beneficial levels of polyunsaturated fat, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
- Purchasing organic chicken ensures that you and your family are not ingesting unnecessary antibiotics that may lead to antibiotic-resistant infections.
Read more on benefits of free range chicken
- Free range has lean meat and it means that the slower cooking yields better results.
- It is advisable to cook the chicken at a temperature of 165 degrees. I would suggest to use a meat thermometer to check if you’re free range is under cooked or over cooked.
- Marinating the chicken (or chicken breasts in particular) with beer for several hours helps to tenderize for grilling or barbecuing.
- Also remember that a perfect cooked chicken has a lot to do with it’s size, pieces followed by internal temperature until you’re comfortable with the time required to cook the chicken – it is often more than the regular chicken recipes.
Personally I prefer free range to broiler because of the taste. A nati koli saaru (chicken curry available in South) won’t be the same when cooked with a broiler. I discovered that free-range, REALLY DO have superior meat – they aren’t just the same product with a different price – they are VERY different meats! I’ve noticed that people who have been brought up on or have been exposed to rural India are aware of the taste and cooking techniques a lot more than the ones who have been only brought up on broilers. Eating free range eggs or chicken is more of a conscience and is left to you to compare notes.