Canning food has been a long held traditional way of preserving food, dating back to the late 18th century when Napoleon offered a cash prize to find a way to preserve food for his troops. French cook and inventor Nicolas Appert successfully won this challenge when after 14 he discovered that if food is heated enough, and then sealed in an airtight container, it would not spoil.
While Appert used glass jars with wax seals, the use of tin cans was pioneered by Englishman Peter Durand, and later perfected and commercialized in 1813 by Bryan Dorkin and John Hall who created the first commercial canning facility in England.
Since that time foods from all food groups have found themselves packed in tin, sealed and preserved to be eaten some time later. And at some point, someone decided they couldn’t live without preserving a whole chicken in a can.
Chicken Ready’s One Whole Chicken In a Can comes in a large 50oz can. The outside states that you can serve it hot or cold, in fact, it’s already ready to eat… straight out of the can. To help preserve the whole chicken is packed in chicken broth. This both removes air that can cause spoilage, as well as increases the salt content that further preserves the chicken.
Opening the can released a strong pungent odor of old chicken soup. While the broth undoubtedly would smell like chicken soup, this smelled like something you’d expect to find in a half empty can of Campbell’s Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup buried under 12 year old newspapers in an episode of Hoarders.
Once I came to terms with the smell, and the fate of my evening, I drained the broth from the can. Inside the can was a cavernous, bony chicken carcass, glistening in an unholy combination of remaining broth and chicken fat.
Upon plating the chicken, it came out of the can in what could only be described as a cannon giving birth. The congealed fat lubricated the chicken in much the same way you’d see fluids covering a new born as he’s making his way through the vaginal canal. When it hit the plate, the chicken practically fell apart. The unknown time it spent inside the can deteriorated any tissue in the meat that would have held the chicken’s structure. I could easily poke my finger through the meat without the slightest push of pressure on it. It was much like sticking your finger into a bowl of mashed potatoes.
In my taste test, I tasted both white and dark meat. While visually different, there was no difference in taste. The chicken was very salty. More surprising was how dry the meat was. How could something packed in broth taste so dry? It was like chewing through overcooked chicken. And while the flavor of chicken was there, it was off. For some reason I felt like I should feel ok with eating this, but my body was violently rejecting it. I held back, but the force was strong with this one.
The one remaining thought I had after this taste test was how bad I felt for this chicken. While I’m not a vegetarian by no means, this poor chicken’s fate was to end up in a can tasting like ass while other chickens went on with dignity to Michelin star restaurants, and prepared by the top chefs of the world for customers paying out the nose for a taste of chicken. How could one’s life be so unfortunate to have one the canned chicken lottery?
The existence of this product absolutely confuses me. I could see in the 50’s when canned foods were all the rage as you needed to stock up your bomb shelter for when the Russians nuked us all… but in this day and age? How does this still make it’s way on the shelf?
I can honestly say that the only way to possibly salvage this is to put a face mask on to block the scent, then take all the meat from the bone, and mix 1:1 with mayonnaise to make a chicken salad… heavy on the mayo. Even then, you’re probably still not safe from full body convulsions.
If you have need for a whole chicken without the effort of cooking it, most grocery stores, and in particular Costco, will often have a deli section that sells whole rotisserie chickens, and for about 2/3 the price of what I paid for this can. Do yourself a solid and pick one of those up instead.