What Exactly Is An Airline Chicken Breast?

While the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization named pork as the most consumed meat in the world, poultry was listed a close second, according to a 2019 post by the USDA. Included in the latter category is chicken. It's versatile, budget-friendly, and goes with just about anything savory. There are tons of ways to prepare it, from roasting and grilling to poaching and frying. And believe it or not, it's a healthy meat to eat, boasting little fat when the skin is removed (via Verywell Fit).

Recent research indicates that Americans have shifted away from beef consumption and over to chicken, averaging about 8 billion chickens consumed per year (via Vox). To put it in perspective, in the 1970s, on average, a person would consume 50 pounds of chicken meat per year whereas now, people eat over 100 pounds.

It's important to know the different parts of the chicken. It comes in many different cuts, with breasts, legs, thighs, and wings being the most popular, but there's another special cut to look out for – airline chicken breast.

A chicken breast with a drummette attached

According to Euro Poultry, an airline chicken breast is a hand-cut chicken breast that has the first wing joint. Other common names are Statler chicken, Frenched breast, and chicken supreme. But how did it get its unique name? Martha Stewart states that airline chicken breasts' origins are actually linked to air travel. They were served on airplanes because they were easier to eat without utensils. Passengers could just hold onto the drumette and eat the meat. Another theory is that the shape of the meat resembles an airplane, and the drumette resembles the plane's wing.

Either way, it's a delectable cut of meat, and one you may not find in your typical grocery store. Jenni Harris, director of marketing at White Oak Pastures, states that airline chicken breasts are found in more "upscale butcher shops." If you're willing to break down a chicken and create the airline breast yourself, chef Jacob Burton has a YouTube video on how to do it. From there, you can sear it in a skillet just like you would an ordinary chicken breast, adding a few more minutes to the timer to account for the extra meat.