What does chicken taste like? Try and describe it and you will probably find yourself saying words like pale, flavorless, or just "Chicken tastes like chicken." I can remember staring suspiciously at a mystery meat on my plate as a child and being coaxed into trying a bite with the all-too-common trope, “Try it. It tastes like chicken” — only to find out that, of course, it didn’t always taste like chicken at all.
But all kidding aside, some foods really do taste like chicken. Which raises the question, how can it ring true for such diverse breeds of animals from amphibians to fowl?
According to Joe Staton from the Museum of Comparative Zoology, evolution is to blame for this phenomenon. In his paper, “Tastes Like Chicken?” he claims that evolutionary traits are either adopted from many generations of ancestors or are developed later in the evolutionary process.
Birds share a similar flavor because they are all birds; they share evolutionary traits; whereas, reptiles share a common ancestor with chicken, dinosaurs.
Just because these meats taste like chicken, doesn’t mean you can use them freely in chicken recipes. Want to trade roast chicken for roast squab? Or swap out grilled chicken breasts for rabbit saddle? Handling these unusual meats will require some extra attention.
You still have to wonder, if all of these exotic foods taste like chicken, what does chicken taste like?
Often served as a novelty, fresh, properly cooked alligator is a far cry in flavor from the frozen, then deep-fried, nuggets of meat you might find served at a fair. Overcooking alligator meat will result in a tough final product that just doesn’t do this “other white meat” justice. Alligators and chicken might not seem like they would taste the same, but according to Staton, from an evolutionary perspective they are more similar than they look.
Shutterstock / Mikhail Valeev
Next time you have a hunkering for ribs, try grilling alligator ribs instead of the more traditional pork and beef ribs. Marinate the ribs in bright citrus and rich butter with just a pinch of salt. This Florida delicacy will not disappoint.
Angela Carlos is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Find her on Twitter and tweet @angelaccarlos.