Miyazaki Chicken

50_2_1850 地鶏50_1_813

Japan has a number of popular chicken dishes, including kara-age—where chicken meat is covered in flour or potato starch and fried with oil—and yakitori, where bite-sized pieces of chicken are skewered and grilled. Among the many brands of chicken produced in Japan, Miyazaki Prefecture’s Jitokko free-range chickens are extremely popular nationwide.

During the Edo Period (1603-1868), feudal lords known as jito—literally, “heads of the land”were positioned throughout the domains of the Shimazu clan, which encompassed all of what are now Kagoshima Prefecture and the southwestern part of Miyazaki Prefecture. It’s said that the name of Jitokko (literally, “head-of-the-land chickens”) originates from peasants who used to offer delicious local chickens—distinguished by short legs, small cockscombs and beards known as kanmo—to these jito.

Jitokko chickens were identified as a unique brand around 1985, when Miyazaki Prefecture recognized their delicious taste and started crossbreeding them at the Miyazaki Livestock Institute. The research bore fruit, and in 2014, under the name Miyazaki Jitokko, the chickens were established as a full-production brand.

The modern Jitokko produced through this careful breeding process are relatively large and have long legs. They boast a high survival rate, and enjoy equally refined handling and feeding.

Miyazaki Jitokko are raised free-range in the abundant nature and warm climate of Miyazaki Prefecture. Their feed has also been carefully developed, and they are raised for four to five months, longer than the average chicken. Grown stress-free in beautiful environs, their meat is not only low in fat and calories, it’s also chewy with a refreshing taste that doesn’t have the usual strong chicken smell.

With Miyazaki Prefecture also known as a producer of charcoal, char-grilled Miyazaki Jitokko has an unparalleled flavor brought out by all of the region’s natural strengths. It’s undoubtedly the best way to try Miyazaki Jitokko chicken.

Photo by みやざき地頭鶏事業協同組合

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