Frog

Photo Modified: Flickr / Andrew E. Russell / CC BY 4.0

Things That Really Do 'Taste Like Chicken'

By
How can that old line ring true for such diverse breeds of animals, from amphibians to fowl?
Frog

Photo Modified: Flickr / Andrew E. Russell / CC BY 4.0

Things That Really Do 'Taste Like Chicken'

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?

Alligator

Alligator

Photo Modified: Flickr / William Warby / CC BY 4.0

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.

Alligator: Recipe

Alligator: Recipe

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.

For the Grilled Citrus Gator Ribs recipe, click here.

Frog

Frog

Photo Modified: Flickr / Andrew E. Russell / CC BY 4.0

This amphibian definitely doesn’t resemble a chicken, but frog legs taste a whole lot like chicken wings when fried. Also like chicken, frog legs benefit from a quick soaking in milk or buttermilk before frying, but are also delicious served grilled or baked.

Frog: Recipe

Frog: Recipe

Shutterstock / Andrey Starostin

Close your eyes and taste these deep fried frog legs. You might be surprised at how much the flavor resembles that of chicken.

For the Deep Fried Frog Legs recipe, click here.

Quail

Quail

Photo Modified: Flickr / Bill Young / CC BY 4.0

Quail is smaller and more delicate than chicken, and is best cooked quickly on high heat for a crisped skin. Quail is delicious grilled, sautéed, or stuffed and roasted in the oven. 

Quail: Recipe

Quail: Recipe

Shutterstock / B. and E. Dudzinscy 

This quail recipe mimics the great taste of Thanksgiving turkey in a tiny quail package. The cornbread stuffing place just under the skin protects the delicate meat from drying out while the skin crisps in the oven.

For the Quail with Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing recipe, click here.

Rabbit

Rabbit

Photo Modified: Flickr / Jim, the Photographer / CC BY 4.0

Just like chicken, rabbit is delicious paired with salty bacon, garlic, or tangy mustard dressings. Also, like chicken, lean rabbit meat easily drys out, and benefits from slow cooking techniques like braising.

Rabbit: Recipe

Rabbit: Recipe

Shutterstock / Marina Onokhina

This rabbit dish is cooked similar to a pan sautéed chicken breast. The sweet and spicy marinade adds lots of flavor to this rabbit dish.

For the Saddle of Rabbit in Cocoa Mustard Recipe, click here.

Rattlesnake

Rattlesnake

Photo Modified: Flickr / _paVan_ / CC BY 4.0

This unusual delicacy most enjoyed in the Southwest is best served fried or grilled. The meat itself is known for being tough and bland in flavor. 

Rattlesnake: Recipe

Rattlesnake: Recipe

Shutterstock / abc7

A recipe from the “Great American Writer’s Cookbook” suggests slicing the snake, soaking it in vinegar with a hint of tobacco, then coating the meat in flour, salt, and pepper, and frying it in oil. Here we have a similar recipe, except that it calls for soaking the snake in buttermilk to tenderize the meat.

For the Southern Fried Rattlesnake recipe, click here.

Squab

Squab

Photo Modified: Flickr / John Liu / CC BY 4.0

Squab, which looks a lot like a small chicken, is excellent roasted, grilled, or crisped is a sauté pan. Appearance alone makes it no surprise that these farm-raised baby pigeons share a similar flavor to chicken.

Squab: Recipe

Squab: Recipe

Photo Modified: Flickr / Steve Dunham / CC BY 4.0

This squab is prepared with a simple rub of fresh ginger, ground cloves, salt and pepper, and served with a side of Asian slaw.

For the Asian Grilled Squab with Vegetable Slaw recipe, click here.

Turtle

The texture of turtle lies somewhere between those of chicken and tuna, but the taste of cooked snapping turtle is hard to distinguish from that of, yes, chicken.

Turtle: Recipe

Test out your palate, and see if you can taste the difference in this spicy, Creole-style turtle soup;

For the Creole Louisiana Snapping Turtle Soup recipe, click here.