There are many birds that are raised and slaughtered for food. Of those, people tend to confuse squab, Rock Cornish birds and poussin chicken most often. In the U.S., those not in the know about how these three birds differ will use the terms interchangeably, and thus be surprised when they receive a dish they did not expect. Here are the defining characteristics of dishes made with squab, Rock Cornish and poussin poultry.
Squab is similar to poussin chicken in that both birds are slaughtered at a young age. Squab can be confused in appearance with Rock Cornish hens because of the size of the bird and the amount of breast meat both have. However, squab is not a chicken nor a game bird. Squab is pigeon meat, raised on a farm in cages and slaughtered when the birds are just old enough to fly but have not learned how to fly just yet. Because the young squabs have not exercised their oversized breast muscles, the meat is extremely tender and very juicy. In taste, it may seem like chicken, but leans towards the flavor of all dark meat rather than the breast meat of chickens.
Poussin refers to chickens raised and slaughtered at about one month old. People buy poussin chicken for the light flavor of the meat, which, because it is chicken, is a combination of both white and dark meat. The market demands that the birds sent to slaughter be a very specific weight, and none should be more than a pound and a half. The actual meat portion for each poussin, once deboned, is about a pound, give or take a few ounces. Poussin chicken can be confused with Rock Cornish hens because of their size, but Rock Cornish birds are actually fully-grown chickens weighing between two and four pounds, approximately.
Rock Cornish Birds
Rock Cornish birds are part of the chicken family, but are dwarfed in size by other chicken breeds. Originally found and bred in Cornwall, England, the birds were a delicacy served to nobility. Now you can buy Rock Cornish hens at your local grocery store and prepare them just as you would other members of the chicken family. Like squab, they have very large, meaty breasts and are now bred in cages rather than hunted in the wild. Typically, they are thought of as a game bird, but since their domestication, only the ones found left roaming free are considered actual game birds.Share