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A Bird-Eater's Guide

December 20, 1990|BARBARA HANSEN

The following chart is a guide to exotic poultry available in the Los Angeles area. Cornish hens and, occasionally, squab can be found in supermarkets. The other birds are either stocked by or can be ordered through specialty shops such as Phil's Fish and Poultry in Larchmont, Brentwood and Studio City. The chart was prepared with the help of Brian Reff, a specialty poultry distributor in North Hollywood.

CAPON

--A castrated rooster, large and meaty

--Ready-to-cook weight ranges from 5 to 10 pounds

--Roast with or without stuffing as alternative to turkey

CORNISH HENS

--These are small (under 28 ounces) frying chickens

--Average weight is 24 to 26 ounces

--Cooking methods: Roast stuffed or unstuffed; grill; split and broil.

DUCK (two varieties)

Muscovy (also called Barbary) --Dark and meaty. Almost 30% of the duck (by body weight)

is breast meat. Less fatty than the common Pekin duck

--Hens weigh 3 1/2 to 4 pounds

--Drakes weigh 6 to 7 pounds

--Cooking methods: Use any method (bake, broil, grill, saute, deep-fry)

Pekin --The most widely available form of duck, the Pekin is all dark meat and contains a great deal of fat

--Weight varies from 3 to 5 1/2 or 6 pounds

--Cooking methods: To reduce fattiness, cook the duck on a vertical roaster, allowing fat to drain off. Or boil duck 45 minutes, drain and then roast or grill as desired.

GOOSE

--Gamier-tasting meat than duck. Fatty

--Weight ranges from 6 to 16 pounds. For best meat yield, select a goose weighing 10 pounds or more

--To reduce fattiness, partially roast goose unstuffed; drain off fat, then stuff if desired and complete roasting

PARTRIDGE

--Expensive bird with chewy meat

--Weighs 1 pound at most

--Moist cooking recommended

PHEASANT

--Moist, tender meat with distinctive, gamy flavor

--Whole birds weigh 2 to 3 1/2 pounds; breasts are occasionally available

--Use any cooking method but be careful not to overcook

PINTELLE (Guinea Fowl)

--Delicate game flavor; has white and dark meat

--Whole bird weighs 2 1/2 to 3 pounds. Available whole, boneless or in breast portions with single wing joint attached

--Grill, roast or saute

POUSSIN

--A baby chicken raised on grain products, resulting in old-fashioned, farm-raised flavor

--Average weight is 16 to 18 ounces

--Use any cooking method

QUAIL (two varieties)

Bobwhite --Native to the United States and the most common game bird

Japanese --Said to have originated in Asia, this is the quail most commonly available in markets. The meat is darker and more moist than that of the bobwhite

--Quail weigh 4 to 5 ounces each and are available whole or boned

--Use any cooking method. Roast stuffed or unstuffed or cook, chill and coat with aspic

SQUAB

--Immature pigeon with moist, tender, dark meat; game flavor is slight

--Average weight is 1 pound

--Bake, broil, grill, saute; can be cooked blood-rare to well done

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