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Pepper Ranch Poultry

What chicken should taste like


Snobby gastronomes have this thing they love to do. No matter what you’re eating, they sniff their nose, roll their eyes and say, “This isn’t really what (insert food product) tastes like. I’ve had the real (food product) in (insert some snobby restaurant or country) and that is what (food product) TRULY tastes like.”

I hate that. Except that I’m about to do it to you.

Pepper Ranch Poultry is a tiny start-up chicken ranch in Petaluma and their American Heritage chickens are the tastiest chickens I’ve ever had. Michele Anna Jordan likes them too. As do a growing number of area chefs.

These are the kinds of chickens your grandmother would have prepared,” said co-owner Amy Proaps, who runs the business local Craig Azevedo . “These are original breeds. You can’t buy them in the stores because they’re just too expensive to raise,” she said.

Why? Proaps said that most commercial chicken is grown as quickly as possible, with as much meat as possible. These slower growing birds forage around the pasture all day, using their muscles and “doing what chickens do naturally,” Proaps said. Like actually perching in their roosts at night. Most commercial birds don’t have the ability to do that because of their huge breasts and weak legs. Pepper Ranch chickens, you’ll notice right off, have smallish breasts and large, muscular legs because they actually, well, move around.

Proaps and Azevedo slaughter only about 50 birds from their growing flock of about 500 to sell at local farm markets. The resulting birds have a thicker skin (holding in moisture well), with darker and much firmer meat. The flavor is less metallic, and more round, complex, and textured. “They’re creamy and buttery,” said Proaps, who was inspired to start selling her chicken after tasting the championship 4-H birds raised by her son.

Prepare for a little sticker shock, however, if you’re used to getting a whole bird at Costco for $4.99. At about $6 per pound (in line with other non-commercial, organic chickens), every morsel is precious and the birds become something of an investment rather than something you’d smother with canned mushroom soup. Most birds are 2.5 pounds and up. But grown organically, the bones and scraps make for great stocks and you can stretch the birds into a couple meals.

If you’re willing to give it a try, Pepper Ranch Poultry are what real chicken truly taste like. Or at least what they should.

Pepper Ranch Poultry, available at the Santa Rosa Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, or by calling 321.9638. Online at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Pepper-Ranch-Poultry/271600052869481

Want to read more? Michele Anna Jordan loves Pepper Ranch, as well as a number of other local poultry producers.

Editor’s Note: Travel, dining and wine tasting can be complicated right now. Use our inspirational ideas to plan ahead for your next outing, be it this week or next year. If you visit restaurants, wineries, and other businesses during the pandemic, remember to call ahead, make reservations, wear a mask and social distance.

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Comments

6 thoughts on “Pepper Ranch Poultry

  1. I get chicken from another Sonoma County Farm and have to say, nothing is better. The best looking, and tasting, dead chickens I have ever had. I’ve gotten over the sticker shock; one chicken can cost around $25-$28, but it seems well worth it now.

    1. When a chicken costs that much you don’t waste it, that’s for sure.
      I end up scraping off every shred of meat I can, then making the most wonderful stock (or poaching the whole chicken and using the shredded meat and stock).

      I only wish I had a better use for the spent bones.

  2. I get chicken from another Sonoma County Farm and have to say, nothing is better. The best looking, and tasting, dead chickens I have ever had. I’ve gotten over the sticker shock; one chicken can cost around $25-$28, but it seems well worth it now.

  3. I get chicken from another Sonoma County Farm and have to say, nothing is better. The best looking, and tasting, dead chickens I have ever had. I’ve gotten over the sticker shock; one chicken can cost around $25-$28, but it seems well worth it now.

    1. When a chicken costs that much you don’t waste it, that’s for sure.
      I end up scraping off every shred of meat I can, then making the most wonderful stock (or poaching the whole chicken and using the shredded meat and stock).

      I only wish I had a better use for the spent bones.

  4. I get chicken from another Sonoma County Farm and have to say, nothing is better. The best looking, and tasting, dead chickens I have ever had. I’ve gotten over the sticker shock; one chicken can cost around $25-$28, but it seems well worth it now.

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