So every now and again I like to pick up an item that seemingly no one is talking about. This is a product I had to do a bit more research into to see if there is a bit of a difference. From everything I've put together, most commercial chickens are raised quite quickly. Heirloom on the other hand supposedly tastes more like the way chicken did a long time ago (before even I was born in the 1980s). They are smaller and have spent their lives in a pasture.
For $2.99 per pound, this is much cheaper than other heirloom chicken I've seen referenced. The bummer here is that it doesn't reference what type of breed it might be. If you are interested in learning more about breeds, you can check out this article by Modern Farmer.
To be fair, I consider myself to be a decent enough home cook. So I opted to keep this simple to see if there was a detectable difference.
When I say simple, I also have to warn you, because this is slow growth chicken, there is a bit more muscle here, so you'll have to cook this slower.
I kept things pretty standard at 350F. This chicken weighed just about 3 lbs so that was about an hour in the oven with be stopping at 45 minutes to brush the fat that had rendered onto the skin. At the end of the hour and a quick temperature check, there was a very necessary 10-minute rest.
Prepping this was pretty standard: I dried it with a paper towel and generously salted and peppered the skin. I also used a whole lemon, halved, and put that in the cavity to put the bird more upright and will lend a mild citrus flavor, and ensure more even heat distribution.
Otherwise, what came out of the oven was moist and had more chicken flavor than regular chicken. Yes, it still tastes like chicken. The breast meat had a much more pronounced flavor than regular chicken cutlets which I oftentimes feel are pretty close to flavorless.
So if you've been curious about one of these birds, don't be afraid of it. But if you are more culinarily adventurous, there are no giblets to neck to speak of in this package.
Frequently asked questions
Below are common reader questions about this product
Yes, they do. They are sold right next to the regular and organic whole birds in the refrigerated case.
Heirloom chicken refers to breeds of chicken that live outdoors, are slow growing, and are often smaller than conventionally sold chicken
Overall, worth a try. In terms of availability, I would check with your local store. Prior to Father's Day, there was a Cowboy Ribeye only in certain locations. So whether or not this is available across all stores is a bit unclear.
Would I buy this again? Yes, I would buy Trader Joe's All Natural Heirloom Whole Chicken again. Even though there was a slight premium it was worth it. Just don't expect those huge chicken breasts, this is a more evenly proportioned bird.
Did you try it? Let me know what you think in the comments section!
The package of Trader Joe's All Natural Heirloom Whole Chicken:
The nutritional information and the ingredients
And what it looked like fully cooked:
Want to see more items I've reviewed from Trader Joe's? Click on Thoughts & Reviews of Trader Joe’s for a searchable list.
The Bottom Line
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Trader Joe's All Natural Heirloom Whole Chicken
Product Name: Trader Joe's All Natural Heirloom Whole Chicken
Product Description: Trader Joe's All Natural Heirloom Whole Chicken is a different option available if you love whole chicken.
Price: $2.99 per pound
Trader Joe's All Natural Heirloom Whole Chicken is an extra meat option in the refrigerated case.
- A more flavorful bird
- When prepared right, there is a decent enough difference to justify the extra price.
- Well priced compared to most references on price I've seen online.
- A slight premium over conventional chicken
- If you are into making gravy you might be disappointed that the neck and giblets aren't here.
- Availability might vary by store