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Old 12-01-2008, 11:05 PM   #1
Patrick Donnelly
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Default Chicken Tenders - After reading Pollan...

No, this isn't one of those "Diet Cheating Confessional" threads. Yes, I did have some chicken tenders today, and the last time I had them was so long ago, that I cannot give you a date. No, I would not have had them had there been other options for meat at the campus cafeteria. Yes, my stomach is feeling a little off right now, and it's remotely possibly since I haven't had anything bread-ish in forever. But what I'd like to talk about are the chicken tenders themselves. Eating them was quite the experience.

I've read large portions of The Omnivore's Dilemma, and in light of the first section of the book, I was eating these tenders in a very contemplative state. Firstly, I noticed that they tasted sweet - like a piece of candy. That was, by far, the strangest thing about them. What on earth could account for that taste? Never can I recall meat tasting like that, unless I had purposely done something like honey-glaze it. The "breadding" on the tenders was also an oddity. It wasn't even bread at all - more of a golden-brown crust, which seemed to be infused with the chicken (yes, I attempted to peel it off at first, to no avail). It tasted nothing like how I remember bread, or even how I remember bread crumbs on things like chicken breasts. It seemed to be a contributor to the sweet taste, though the chicken itself was too. The meat was moist, yet the moisture felt artificial - like some sort of grease and water mix soaked into the meat. It lacked the flavor of the juices from a freshly grilled chicken breast or steak. All it had was warmth. With each bite, this liquid seeped out of the meat into your mouth, where you would feel it's warmth and moisture assist in the chewing of the meat and breading. The texture of the meat was strangely uniform. With a regular piece of chicken, you can clearly pull the meat off in a direction along the muscle, but even then, it comes off in large chunks of fibers. Here, it appeared to be thin, individual strands. I can't even comprehend how such strands could be pated together in such a fashion, especially to form the shape of a "tender." On that topic, what is a "tender" supposed to be? You've got the breast, thigh, drumstick, etc. But what's the tender, and how is it different from the chicken finger? And isn't that an odd one too - "chicken fingers?" Why would humans want to eat anything resembling human fingers? It's crazy.

All the while I thought: "This is corn." Isn't it amazing?
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Old 12-02-2008, 03:57 AM   #2
Kris Reeves
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Wikipedia never ceases to amaze me!


"Traditionally, chicken fingers are primarily white meat, made from the rib meat trimmed from the breast, though this is not always the case and commonly processed ground chicken is used."

I imagine the sweet juciy-ness is because the meat is probably injected with a salt (and possibly sugar) solution. That however is very common in preparing chicken...it's like a no wait marinade. Otherwise, you can put chicken in a salt water solution so the meat absorbs it (http://whatscookingamerica.net/Poultry/BriningPoultry.htm). It's sort of necessary or chicken dries out and gets really rubbery.

Even if you buy plain chicken breasts at the store...they have most likely been injected with a brine solution. I know this is true of some free range brands I've purchased as well.

In anycase, damn...some chicken fingers with honey mustard would be the shizz right now....and yes it's not even 7 am!
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Old 12-04-2008, 11:50 PM   #3
Patrick Donnelly
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I'm not surprised that there's salt in there, but sugar too? That sounds a bit outrageous. I know that your standard chicken from the grocer's also has a brine solution in it (which often makes the package weigh far more than it should, jacking up your bill), but I've never actually tasted it before. Maybe it's just because I always season the chicken in other ways. I wouldn't be surprised if the chicken tender meat had no other seasoning except the salt. The breading seemed to be carrying all the spiciness. I suppose that would make the preparation easier. You could very simply have small amounts of dry seasonings in the premade breading batter, but putting the same seasonings into the solution that surrounds the chicken meat in its packaging would cause a lot of waste in the excess fluid dripoff.

By the way, these were University of Maryland chicken tenders, not McDonald's.

Today, I was walking through the student community center on campus, passing by a food court of fast foot places. It was the first time I had ever been in there during busy hours. It carried the distinct smells of salt and vegetable oil. This, too, amused me, contemplating what responses that scent would trigger in the average person.
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Old 12-05-2008, 08:49 AM   #4
Craig Loizides
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Somewhere in The Omnivore's Dilemma, Pollan makes the observation that all processed food is just different combinations of fat, sugar, and salt. Your description of the chicken tenders reminded me a lot of the chapter where he's eating McDonald's.
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Old 12-05-2008, 09:55 AM   #5
Gant Grimes
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Originally Posted by Kris Reeves View Post
In anycase, damn...some chicken fingers with honey mustard would be the shizz right now....and yes it's not even 7 am!
"It should be more like birthday party than physics class." | Log | 70's Big
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Old 12-06-2008, 10:33 AM   #6
Grissim Connery
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if anything has been processed, i normally start with the assumption that there's sugar in it. guilty until proven sugarless. it has a lot of functional uses in processing (especially preserving), so i never really blame a company for doing what they do. after all, a corporation is only legally bound to one real goal - increase the shareholder's pockets.

whenever people come on here and ask about diets, the first response is "what's your goal?" i just normally consider corporations under the same light. thus i find it better to just question the problems corporations themselves and leave their practices (fake chicken tenders) to serve as examples.

in order to elucidate what i'm saying, here's another example. i think of bicep curls as a bullshit exercise, but i view bodybuilding as the real goal that procudes bicep curls. if some dude is takin steroids and just wants to get massive, i wouldn't argue with him not to do bicep curls. i would debate the goal of getting huge in the first place. the same thing applies to the chicken tenders. they're just a product of corporations trying to increase profits. their is a problem with the food, but the bigger problem concerns the goal in the first place - to make money.
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Old 12-06-2008, 10:50 AM   #7
Daniel Labuz
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From a business student (a very poor one at that, not academically but the shear thought of being management makes me cringe), I totally agree. Day in and day out all I hear is profit maximization, shareholders this stakeholders that, Milton Friedman is god. I'm surprised I haven't gone and done something crazy, I'm so glad this is my last semester otherwise I would probably do something crazy.

Just me ranting
The Greatest Gift in Life is Freedom
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