Last summer I picked up two raw chickens on sale at City Market, put one in the freezer and the other on the smoker for dinner. When it was done and I cut into it, the chicken oozed a milky-looking liquid and had a weird, stringy texture that all dinner guests agreed made it just too unappealing to eat. With my main dish inedible, I ran back to City Market with the second chicken and told them something was very wrong with it. They gave me my money back and I bought a ready-made rotisserie chicken to substitute for dinner that night. To say we were disappointed was an understatement.
After that, I couldn’t help but wonder: what was wrong with my chicken that it came out so funky?
The answer is, it wasn’t really chicken. The fine print on the label said the chicken had been “enhanced” with a “15% solution of chicken broth.”
This is what ruined my dinner. I cooked a chicken that had been pumped full of liquid, when I thought I was buying just chicken. It was also on sale, which meant it had probably been sitting around a little longer than desired prior to purchase.
“Enhancing” chicken is a euphemism for injecting it with a mixture of water, phosphate, sodium and sometimes carrageenan, a chemical derived from seaweed that increases the chicken’s ability to hold the injected liquid in its tissues. Injecting it this way plumps up the chicken, making it look more appealing to consumers. You can see a video of a chicken-injecting machine at work here.