Chicken is a versatile and popular type of poultry, often serving as a staple protein source in many households worldwide. Recognized for its nutritional benefits, chicken is not only high in protein but also relatively low in fat and calories when compared to other meats. With a mild, versatile flavor, it can easily be incorporated into a vast array of dishes and cuisines.
Available in various cuts, such as breasts, thighs, wings, and drumsticks, chicken accommodates diverse cooking methods including baking, grilling, frying, and roasting. It is a favorite choice amongst home cooks and consumers, lending itself to an endless variety of recipes and preparations that are both nutritious and satisfying.
With its mild and versatile flavor, chicken is a true culinary chameleon that easily adapts to countless recipes and variations, supporting an array of cuisines and cooking methods. Yet, despite its popularity, many grapple with preparing chicken properly. Common mistakes include overcooking leading to dry and tough texture, not seasoning adequately, yielding a bland result, and disregarding food safety measures such as proper thawing and avoiding cross-contamination with raw chicken.
Getting the most out of chicken involves understanding the different cuts and using them suitable to the recipe. For example, chicken breasts are better for quick-cooking methods while thighs and legs excel in slow-cooking dishes. A significant point that is often overlooked is allowing the chicken to rest after cooking before cutting, as this helps retain juices leading to a more moist and flavorful chicken.
Fun tip, brining your chicken before cooking can help prevent it from drying out, and pounding the chicken to an even thickness before cooking can ensure that it cooks evenly. Always wash your hands before and after handling chicken to prevent cross-contamination.
Why does my chicken always end up dry?
Why does my chicken taste bland?
How can I ensure my chicken is fully cooked without cutting into it?
Why should I let my chicken rest after cooking?
Do I need to wash my chicken before cooking?
What's the difference in cooking chicken breast versus thighs?
Can I marinate chicken overnight?
What is brining and how does it help?
What's the safest way to defrost chicken?
Should I cook chicken on high heat or low heat?
Expiration & Storage Tips
When does chicken expire?
Unopened raw chicken can generally last in the fridge for 1-2 days past its sell-by date. If properly stored in the freezer, it can last for about 9-12 months. Once cooked, chicken can last for 3-4 days in the fridge. If you bought pre-packaged cooked chicken or prepared it at home, these can both last in the fridge for 3-4 days. If frozen, the cooked chicken can stay good for about 4 months.
How do you tell if chicken is bad?
Raw chicken that has gone bad will exhibit a strong, unpleasant smell. It can also feel slimy or sticky to the touch. The color may start turning gray. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to throw it out. For cooked chicken, it may also have a smell and the texture could become overly soft. Taste is not a good indicator of whether cooked chicken is still good, so if in doubt, throw it out.
Tips for storing chicken to extend shelf life
• Always store raw chicken in a sealed container or bag to prevent the juices from leaking onto other foods in the fridge.
• Freeze unused portions of raw or cooked chicken as soon as possible to extend its shelf life.
• Always wash your hands and any utensils and surfaces that have come into contact with raw chicken to avoid cross-contamination.
• If you have leftover cooked chicken, be sure to refrigerate or freeze it within two hours of cooking. Divide leftovers into small portions and store in a shallow containers for quick and even cooling.
• When defrosting frozen chicken, do it in the refrigerator. It can take 24 to 48 hours for it to fully defrost, depending on the size and cut. Never defrost chicken at room temperature, as this can lead to bacterial growth.