White meat is a classification of meat that pertains to the quantity of the white muscles. These muscle fibers are called fast-twitch muscles, which the animal uses “for quick bursts of activity,” as described in Exploratorium, a website devoted to the science of cooking and sponsored by the National Science Foundation in the United States. “White meat has a translucent “glassy” quality when it is raw. When it’s cooked, the proteins denature and recombine, or coagulate, and the meat becomes opaque and whitish,” according to Exploratorium.
So technically, sources of white meats are those that turn white or lighter when cooked, such as chicken, turkey, quail, and pheasant. Pork has been marketed as “the other white meat” although the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) classify pork as a red meat. It’s a matter of semantics, as the Wikipedia entry states, since nutritionists “consider all meat from mammals to be red meat.”
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), a public health agency within the USDA, recommends that when cooking white meat (poultry), especially whole chickens, it’s safe to keep its internal temperature at 165 °F on your meat thermometer. The Exploratorium lists an internal temperature of 180° F for chicken, a bit higher than the FSIS recommendation.
With regards to roasting white meat recipes, the USDA-FSIS recommends roasting chicken at 350° F, the length of time depending on the weight and type of chicken. Whole roasting hens at 5 to 7 lbs. should be roasted for 2 to 2 ¼ hours, while it can be grilled for 18-25 minutes for every pound. For chicken breast fillet halves, it’s 20 to 30 minutes for the boneless and grilling at 6 to 8 minutes per side. For drumsticks, roast for 35 to 45 minutes and grill for 8 to 12 minutes per side.
In terms of nutrition, a cup of roasted white meat chicken has 242 calories, 6 grams of total fat and 119 mg of cholesterol, according to the Livestrong website. In contrast, a grilled beef round has 420 calories, 13.1 grams of total fat and 190 mg of cholesterol, according to a nutritional analysis from the Self Magazine online Nutrition Data.
There are numerous recipes for white meat, from roasted chickens to casseroles, stews, and stir-fries. Just type in any of the white meats such as chicken, turkey or quail, and see how versatile white meats are in cooking.