What's the Deal with Black Chickens?

What's the Deal with Black Chickens?

Faith Durand
Sep 30, 2017

Have you ever seen a black chicken? We don't mean a black-feathered chicken; we mean a Silkie chicken, which is black-pigmented right down to its bones. They aren't commonly found in the grocery store, but you might see them in Asian groceries. What's the deal with these black chickens, and do they taste different than the paler breed?

Silkie chickens are a highly prized breed of chicken that has beautiful silky white plumage, and startlingly black skin. They are frequently found in China, India, and Southeast Asia. They have a mild-mannered nature and make excellent pets, and you'll often see them at poultry shows.

The chicken flesh itself is a dark bluish-gray or even black, and the bones are black as well. But the meat really doesn't taste different by nature; it's just chicken. The one difference, however, comes from the way the birds are raised. These obviously aren't factory-farmed birds, raised on the enormous scale of U.S. poultry farms, so they're almost invariably free-range and slightly gamier in flavor. In fact, if you're looking for free-range and well-raised birds, choosing a black chicken is a good way to go.

Do you ever eat black chicken? How do you cook it? It seems that a roasted black bird would be slightly startling to guests; perhaps you're better off with soup? Here's an article from The New York Times on black chicken and soup.

Related: Ingredient Spotlight: Silkie Chickens

(Top image: Flickr member ~MVI~ licensed for use under Creative Commons; bottom image: Wikimedia)

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