Until a few decades ago, every Piedmontese farmyard was home to some small animali da cortile, like ducks, geese, rabbits and chickens. They were either kept for family consumption or sold at local markets to supplement the farm’s modest income. The traditional chicken breeds, used for meat and eggs, were the Piedmontese Blonde (Bionda Piemontese) and the Saluzzo White (Bianca di Saluzzo).
Also known as Cavour White, the Saluzzo White was mostly found in the part of Piedmont closest to France, corresponding to the former medieval marquisate of Saluzzo, and the area around the province of Turin, particularly the town of Cavour. The town used to be home to an important poultry market which attracted traders from all over Italy.
The Saluzzo White chicken has white feathers, tending towards straw yellow. The crest and wattles are red, and the feet and beak yellow. Medium in size, it has a live weight of around 2 kilos, thin bones, well-developed muscles and an elegant profile. The hardy breed, suited to grazing freely in the fields, produces pink-shelled eggs and prized meat, used in classic Piedmontese dishes like pollo alla cacciatora, chicken braised with tomatoes, and tonno di gallina, poached chicken in oil. The crests and wattles are also used to make the traditional stew called finanziera, while the meat from older hens tends to be boiled or served in salad
The meat can primarily be found in the fall and winter, while the eggs are available in spring and summer.
Since the 1990s, the Verzuolo agriculture and environment institute has been working on the genetic recovery of this breed, starting with populations from the surrounding countryside. The selection has been carried out by the Turin Veterinary University and involves Paolo Viano’s breeding centre in Verzuolo and the Monge family’s Torre San Giorgio hatchery.
The Presidium has united a group of farmers who produce high-quality meat and eggs, rearing the birds in line with a strict production protocol: The chickens must be free to roam outdoors, not subject to constant artificial illumination, not fed GMOs, not mutilated, not given antibiotics, and so on.
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