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I have been allergic to chicken my entire life, and I am looking for a chicken substitute for a variety of recipes.

Of course I've heard the old saying that "everything tastes like chicken", but I would actually like to know if there's some type of food that I have never eaten that actually tastes like chicken.

To date, I have tried some foods that allegedly taste like chicken:

  • duck
  • alligator
  • turkey
  • pheasant

Would any of these taste similar, or at least substitute for chicken in other recipes?

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Interesting! I didn't know one could be allergic to chicken! I only eat chicken, beef, and pork, but I will ask my more adventurous co-workers about some of these foods. Now I am curious! –  James Slagel Feb 22 '11 at 2:37
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Chicken tastes like chicken...sort of. Turkey is actually pretty close...the white part anyway. –  Crazy Eddie Feb 22 '11 at 17:24
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Duck is all dark meat so it tastes more like the dark meat in turkey (i.e. turkey legs). Many smaller game hens taste like Chicken (i.e. Quail). –  Adisak Feb 22 '11 at 20:23
    
Some tofu or vegetarian 'meat' tastes pretty much likes chicken. Tasteless and boring that is. –  Barfieldmv Feb 23 '11 at 9:55

1 Answer 1

up vote 14 down vote accepted

The problem is, the mass produced chicken most of us are used to doesn't taste like chicken.

The expression 'tastes like chicken' is therefore used for most anything that's not particularly assertive.

There was an episode of Food Detectives, "Tastes Like Chicken" where they served a few different meats to professional chefs (Alex Guarnaschelli and Aarón Sanchez), who had problems identifying all of the meats they were being served ... I can't remember exactly what all of the results were, and I can't find a transcript; I remember Alex being distraught when she realized she was eating guinea pig).

And the cooking show Ham on the Street had a regular segment of 'name that meat', where he'd have hot dogs, or jerky, and try to have people guess what they were.

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Part of the issue with substitution is going to be something that has similar cooking characteristics, but that you don't have a reaction to. (I'm actually surprised that you're allergic to chicken, but then listed other poultry)

Turkey's likely the closest of the stuff you listed, particularly if it's the mass produced stuff, it's going to have a similar lack of flavor that most chickens sold in the US has; duck tends to be richer. I haven't had any game birds recently, so can't comment on the pheasant. Alligator I've only had a few times, and the only time in the last decade it was deep fried, so the meat didn't come through.

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For substitutions, it'd depend on how you're cooking it, and what part of the bird.

For instance, in place of chicken wings, I might consider frog legs. (although, it's probably been 25 years since I've had 'em, but I seem to recall them being chicken-like ... I just can't remember if they were like white or dark meat chicken) ... but they'd be closer in mass than turkey wings.

For chicken breasts, I'd go with turkey breast cutlets, so they're closer in size. For ground chicken meat, ground turkey will work, just check to see if a recipe calls for a leaner or fattier mix, and get the appropriate turkey. Chicken thighs and legs are a little more strongly flavored ... rabbit might actually work, or duck or pigeon if you have a source.

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Great answer. The number one follow-up question I always get besides "well what do you eat then?" is "can you eat turkey". I generally prefer other options like pork, ham, or steak, but I have eaten it on occasion. The best part of this answer is the turkey wings, which I never considered. I've always wanted to try chicken wings since that's what most people get when out at the bars, but I guess I could try making my own version with the turkey variety! –  John Rasch Feb 22 '11 at 5:06
    
@John, one of the stalls in the amish market near me has some amazing smoked turkey wings, but they're huge relative to chicken wings ... actually, in thinking about it, if you separate the joints from a turkey wing, they'd probably make a good substitute (in terms of mass) for a chicken leg. You might want something a little smaller for "wings" (maybe 1.5oz?), but that still had a central bone ... frog legs are the only thing coming to mind except for other smaller poultry (as most would have proportionally larger, more developed wings than chickens) –  Joe Feb 22 '11 at 5:34
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+1 for the rabbit suggestion. I find that rabbit (while it can be quite dry), often tastes similar to darker chicken meat. Rabbit loin is a good substitute for chicken breast. –  KimbaF Feb 22 '11 at 8:55

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