Never Skip This Step When Cooking Chicken

source: Flickr

I live alone, and sometimes it can be quite a challenge to cook meals for one person, but I love chicken and I prepare it quite often. When I do opt for junk food, I ensure that I have some chicken in it, be it a burger or some fried chicken from KFC. But when I have some free time, especially when I am not working, I prefer to make it myself. Cooking food at home makes the food more enjoyable and nutritious.

source: Flickr

Well, the preparation of chicken is not as simple as putting it on a pan and praying for the best. Each step of the process is so important, from selecting the appropriate chicken to preparing it to perfection and then storing it properly. The following are some mistakes that I have observed many people make while preparing chicken. So, let me check if you are one of them, haha!

source: Anderson Reserve Store

Buying the Chicken

First of all, let’s go shopping for the chicken. Whenever I go to the supermarket, I find myself in a dilemma as to what to choose. In my opinion, it’s all about the quality. I like purchasing fresh, organic chicken because it does not contain hormones and antibiotics. If you can afford it, choose the organic products as they are healthier for the body.

source: Flickr

Thawing Chicken Properly

For those who, like me, often buy frozen chicken and store it in the freezer, proper thawing is a crucial step. For instance, there was this one time when I was in a hurry and left a frozen chicken breast on the counter to defrost. Not only was it very time-consuming, but it was also not very safe. According to food safety guidelines, putting chicken at room temperature to thaw is dangerous as it promotes bacterial growth. The best method is to transfer it to the fridge the night before. In a pinch, put the chicken in a plastic bag and soak it in cold water, changing the water every half an hour.

source: Flickr

Cutting Chicken Like a Pro

After defrosting, it is time for cutting. This was always a problem for me until I realized that using a sharp knife and being very careful helped. Ensure that the meat is cut on a clean and separate cutting board to prevent contamination. When cutting, always cut across the grain in order to get tender and juicy pieces of meat. I used to just chop at the chicken breast and it was such a mess, but now I am more patient and careful.

Cooking Chicken to Perfection

Cooking chicken has always been a challenge, and I was no exception in this regard, at least not in the past. There are so many methods: frying, grilling, baking, poaching. All of them are different and have their specifics. Here are some tips:

source: Flickr
  • Frying: Make sure the oil is hot enough (approximately 350°F). I realized this the hard way when I was left with oily, raw chicken. If you need to, use a thermometer. Dredge your chicken in flour or batter and fry until crispy and brown on the outside and the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
  • Grilling: Grease the grates of your grill before grilling to avoid food sticking to it. Season your chicken and let it marinate for some time and then cook on the grill on high heat. The pieces of chicken without bones take less time to cook, about 6-8 minutes on each side, while the pieces with bones take more time to cook.
  • Baking: This method is very helpful, especially when you have a lot of things to do in a day. First, set your oven to 375°F. Season your chicken, put it in a baking dish, and bake for 25-30 minutes for breasts, longer for thighs or drumsticks. First and foremost, the internal temperature should be checked—it should be at least 165°F.
source: Flickr

The Step Everyone Forgets: Letting the Chicken Rest

Here’s the step almost everyone forgets, including myself back in the day: putting the chicken to rest. When your chicken is done, it is recommended that you leave it to stand for 5-10 minutes before you start to cut it. This helps the juices redistribute and makes the chicken more juicy and flavorful. I don’t even know how many times I’ve tried to cut a juicy chicken breast only for the juice to spill over the cutting board. Yes, patience is a virtue that is often rewarded and you should give it a try.

source: Flickr

Storing Leftovers Safely

I love meal prepping, so I usually cook chicken and keep it in the fridge to use at different times. Ensure that the chicken cools down before storing it in the refrigerator. It is best to store it in an airtight container and it will last for about 3-4 days in the fridge. For longer storage, freeze it—just make sure to label and date the containers.

source: Flickr

Creative Uses for Leftover Chicken

So, what to do with the remaining food? Here are some ideas:

  • Chicken Salad: Combine the shredded chicken with some mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, celery, and a little mustard. It can be served on a bed of greens or as a sandwich.
  • Chicken Tacos: Season the chicken with taco seasoning, and place it in tortillas with whatever toppings you like.
  • Chicken Soup: This is ideal for a night of comfort. All you need to do is throw in your chicken, broth, vegetables, and noodles.
  • Stir-Fry: A convenient and healthy meal. Simply put your chicken with some vegetables and sauce in a pan and stir-fry.
source: Flickr

The preparation of chicken does not seem to be a complex process, but there are a number of factors that people tend to ignore. Starting from selecting the right chicken to thaw, cut, and cook it, everything plays a crucial role. Of course, it is also important not to overindulge and let the food settle for a while before going back for seconds. Whether you are cooking a meal for your family on a busy weekday or preparing meals in advance, following these steps will help you prepare mouth-watering chicken every time. Now go ahead and make that perfect chicken! And do not forget that a few minutes of your time and effort spent on cooking will make your meal not only tolerable but also tasty.