This all-black Indonesian chicken costs $2,500
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But, really, how black are these chickens? You know the old line about the blackest thing in the world being a black cat in a coal cellar at midnight? That cat would look like a shining beacon alongside these bizarre birds, each weighing 4 to 5 pounds. They’re completely black, from comb to tailfeather, including the meat. Their eyes, beaks, tongues and claws are all jet black, as are their bones, marrow and organs. There is some debate about the color of their blood, which some say is black, too, or at least very dark.
The meat tastes a little gamier than regular chicken and more like the “Mercedes of chickens” from France’s Bresse region, which cost a mere $70 each (if you happen to be knocking around the Rhone Valley). The birds are commonly found in recipes from Malaysia in dishes such as Hainan-style chicken.
Tengker cooks the chickens in Chinese-style porridge, or he slow-cooks them in light soya. “Ayam cemani chickens cook like regular free-range birds but [are] not usually used for frying. They need a slow, wet cooking method to extract their best flavor. Compared with a regular chicken, they have little meat, but like many other free-range chickens in Indonesia, they’re skinny but have more flavor,” he says.
But these exotic black birds are hard to come by, he says: “They’re rarely found at normal chicken suppliers and in much of Central Java are kept as pets.”
According to its website, Florida’s Greenfire Farms started selling legal ayam cemani chickens this year “despite the current USDA export ban on importing live chickens from Indonesia.”