Chicken is the traditional stand-by because it’s cheap, versatile and popular. Chicken is among one of the most essential ingredients to learn how to cool. It can be made into one-dish casseroles, grilled and placed atop a salad, roasted, pan-seared and my favorite, fried! Chicken is high in protein, low in fat and contains no carbohydrates.
When selecting chicken, always choose the right cut to accompany your recipe. While buying chicken be sure to check the color of the skin (if choosing a skin-on variety). When the skin starts to become transparent, and you can see the meat through the skin – it’s old. You should always purchase chicken that is white to deep yellow in appearance. If it looks gray or pasty – stay away! Also be sure to check the package date and the sell by date when purchasing chicken from the supermarket. This will help you determine the age of the meat. Also check that the packaging is unbroken, and if you see blood on the meat, or in the packaging, it is a good indication that the chicken has been frozen and defrosted.
Sometimes meats can contain a funky smell when you first open the package. This is due to modern packaging techniques. If you smell something, give the meat five minutes for the oxidation to dissolve. If the odor stays longer than five minutes return the product or throw it out. Remember this “when it doubt – throw it out”, and you’ll be safe.
Chicken can be used or frozen within two days of the sell by date, and should definitely be cooked by the use by date. Store chicken on the bottom shelf, or the coldest part of your refrigerator, since bacteria grows in warm temperatures. Store chicken in its original container, a sealed Ziplock bag that doesn’t leak, or in an airtight container. Also store the chicken away from other meats and veggies to prevent cross contamination from chicken juice dripping onto other products.
If you’re purchasing in bulk, and freezing chicken, be sure to wrap each piece individually in plastic wrap, and then place in a freezer type Ziplock bag. Be sure to date and label the chicken before placing it in the freezer. I like to wrap my chicken individually because it is much easier to take out if you need to make a quick snack of chicken nuggets for the kids, or if you want to add a little chicken to a salad. I like it this way too because I can only take out what I need instead of taking out a whole bag or package of meat, and then HAVING to use it all, and possibly having waste.
Cuts of Chicken
This is perfect for when you don’t want to roast a whole bird. Bone-in breast are sold whole or split. Cooking chicken with the bone in takes a little longer to cook, but adds a lot more flavor.
Boneless Skinless Breast
This is probably the most popular cut of chicken, and is frequently cut in half. The tenderloin strips on the back of the breast come from the upper muscle portion of the breast. Tenderloin strips are perfect for making chicken tenders.
This is also referred to as the leg. It is dark meat, and sometimes sold as a “quarter” and sold with the thigh attached.
My favorite cut! It is dark meat, and sold either with skin, or skinless, and also sold bone-in, or boneless.
Perfect for chicken wings! It has three sections.
This whole chicken usually ranges between 4 to 6 pounds. Be sure to see if it has the giblets inside the body – if so, be sure to remove before cooking.
Temperature Guide for Meat and Poultry – Click to Enlarge
*source: sur la table