Learning the art of cooking chicken isn’t that hard. But the key is in the preparation. What you do prior to cooking can make all the difference.
Purchasing and Storing
Everything starts with the chicken you buy. Buy only from reputable stores.
Make sure that it is cold; warm chicken probably contains bacteria and other germs. Next, put the meat in an airtight container.
Store the meat in the freezer if you are not going to cook it yet.
If you’ll be cooking it in a day or two, you can put it in the fridge. Allow the chicken to thaw before cooking it.
Marinating & Pre-Cooking Preparations
The meat is susceptible to bacteria so wash all the utensils. Wash your hands or wear gloves when holding the meat.
If you’re cooking chicken, there are many ways to marinate it. Some may use vinegar, salt, and pepper.
Others opt to immerse it in different fruit flavors. The type of marinade used determines how long it must be stored in the fridge.
Most would recommend at least 4 hours up to a maximum of 24 hours.
The appropriate temperature ranges from 160 F to 180 F. Most chefs would recommend 165 F, as the higher temperatures could make the meat very hard.
A digital meat thermometer can help immensely. Find the meatiest part and put the thermometer there before cooking the chicken. Avoid hitting any bones.
Put the chicken in the oven with the thermometer in there. When the readout reaches 165 F, the meat is cooked. The oven temperature is usually set at 350 F.
If you don’t have a thermometer, a fork will do. Use it to make a small cut in the meat. If the meat is pink, more cooking time is needed. A white color means the meat is cooked.
Additional Cooking Tips
Some would recommend browning the meat prior to cooking. This can hasten the cooking process a bit.
You should also avoid storing the chicken too long in the freezer. Even when it is thawed prior to cooking chicken, some flavor will have dissipated.
One of the most common mistakes made is not resting the meat. Allow the meat to rest for 5 to 10 minutes after removing it from the oven.
This allows the internal temperature to rise a few degrees. This is what gives the meat its full flavor and crispiness.
Preparing Chicken Breasts
There are two types in which chicken breasts (and chicken in general) can be cooked: dry heat and moist heat. Dry heat includes grilling, roasting, sautéing and frying. Moist heat includes baking, steaming, and slow cooking.
As a rule of thumb, moist heat takes a few minutes to cook and needs lower heat. Poached breasts take about 15 minutes while grilling no more than 10 minutes.
Cooking chicken is something anyone can learn. There are many ways to do it, and it doesn’t take that much time. Even with little experience, it won’t take long before you are able to serve up tasty meals.