Chicken is one of the most versatile meats that can be cooked in a multitude of ways. It has a mild delicate flavour and cooked right can have a soft succulent texture, which just melts in the mouth. It is low in fat and incredibly tasty making it one of the best sources of protein available. This article will provide you with tips for cooking chicken so that you can make sure you don’t end up with charred chunks of meat and instead a juicy and delicious concoction cooked to perfection.
Tip 1 – Getting The Right Temperature
Perfectly cooked chicken will reach a temperature of 165f or 75c and will be moist and juicy. Any higher than this and the chicken will dry out. Any lower and your chicken will not be cooked enough and can be a potential health hazard. You can check the temperature using a thermometer
Tip 2 – Look For Clear Juices
Another way to check that the chicken is cooked is to pierce the breast at the thickest part and check the juices. If the juices run clear the chicken is cooked, if you notice any brown or red streaks in the juices, the inside is still raw and needs to be cooked for longer.
Tip 3 – Brine Is Best
You can soak chicken in a brine solution for about 30 minutes prior to cooking. This changes the proteins in the chicken and allows it to stay moist during dry cooking methods.
Tip 4 – Chicken Stretches
You can roast a full chicken for one meal, shred the leftovers to stir-fry or add as an ingredient for another meal and then boil the carcass and any left over meat on the bone to create a stock that you can use as a base for a broth or casserole.
Tip 5 – Make The Meat Even
To make sure your chicken breasts are cooked evenly, try to pound it to an even thickness before cooking. This will ensure the edges of your chicken don’t get overly cooked and prevents the bulkier middle being raw.
Tip 6 – Avoid Barbecue Disasters
If you are barbecuing chicken, try placing a metal tray of water on the coals, as the steam will help to keep the chicken moist. You should also delay coating the chicken in sauce until the last ten minutes of the cooking process to make sure you don’t overly char the chicken, you want it to have a nice caramelized glaze instead of burned and bitter.
Tip 7 – Crispy Equals Delicious
Rubbing the skin of chicken with butter and sea salt before cooking will give it a nice crispy golden skin.
Tip 8 – Let It Rest
Chicken should be allowed to rest after cooking for between 10 and 15 minutes before it’s eaten. Keep it covered with foil to keep it warm and just allow it to sit before carving or serving. This will help the chicken to relax and release its juiciness even more.
Tip 9 – Give Your Chicken A Coat
Before deep-frying chicken, coat it with a mixture of flour with a little salt and pepper and let it rest for a few minutes after being dredged. Then fry it in batches until the coating is golden brown. This will protect the chicken in the oil, allowing it to steam cook and the coating will be delicious and crisp. Allow the chicken to drip onto some kitchen paper to remove the oil and prevent it getting soggy.
Tip 10 – Swimming Chicken
Chicken can be cooked in water, just fill up your pot with your vegetables and chicken pieces, Boil it up then allow to simmer for about 30-45 minutes until the chicken is cooked. It will be moist, succulent and very tender. You can also braise your chicken first before adding your stock and vegetables if you want your chicken to be browned.
Tip 11 – Slow It Down
Chicken is ideal to use in a slow cooker too, just brown it off before you add it to the slow cooker with your other ingredients. Cook it on a medium to high heat for several hours in stews or casseroles and make a big comforting batch to freeze and eat another day.
Tip 12 – Marinate For Flavour
Chicken can be marinated or coated before cooking too. Chicken is ideal for absorbing flavours from spices and juices and it can then be threaded onto metal or wooden skewers and grilled or shallow fried with the marinade in a pan.
Tip 13 – Place It Under A Blanket
Covering chicken with foil in a baking dish will help the chicken retain it’s moisture and will act like a steamer to cook the chicken thoroughly without drying it out. This method is perfect for baking chicken in the oven.
Tip 14 – Chicken Stock Is Best
With it’s mild flavour and simpleness, chicken stock is perfect to add to soups, broths, and other dishes requiring a sauce. This is because chicken easily absorbs other flavours and blends into the background better than stronger tasting stocks or commercial ones that are full of other powerful flavours like herbs and spices. You can use chicken stock as a base and add your own spices and herbs to your own taste.
Tip 15 – What About Leftovers?
You are likely to find you have leftovers when you cook a full chicken. The best way to use leftovers is to cut the chicken into chunks and freeze it in individual portion bags. Chicken that has been cooked and frozen can be cooked again or defrosted and eaten cold. You can add it to salads or stir-fries or just have it in a sandwich.
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