Chicken is a popular meat choice, and it is also an economical source of healthy protein people rely on for everyday meals. This budget-friendly meat can be cooked in many different ways, and there are hundreds of popular recipes to try. If you are tired of bland and flavorless chicken, then here are some pro tips to help you cook to enhance the outcome of your next meal prepared with poultry as the main meat choice:
Master the technique
Chicken is a versatile meat, and there are ample cooking techniques to enhance its flavor, texture, and presentation. Master these basic techniques to help elevate your humble chicken recipes:
- Baking and roasting: This method of cooking chicken requires an oven where the bird can be baked or roasted whole or in pieces. What sets apart the two cooking techniques is the preparation of the meat. Baking involves cooking chicken with added liquids in a covered dish, while dry heat is used to roast chicken with herbs and seasonings. Baked and roasted chicken is ideal for health-conscious people and people with dietary restrictions.
- Boiling and simmering: Boiled chicken is perfect for salads, sandwiches, snacks, and a healthy meal plan for kids. Boiling chicken is a simple cooking technique; here is a step-by-step recipe for how long to boil chicken thighs to help you get perfectly moist and tender meat every time. The key is to allow the meat to simmer at a low temperature so it can soften and pick up as much flavor as possible.
- Braising, sautéing, and frying: Braising, sautéing, and frying require different quantities of oil to cook the chicken till it’s tender and nicely colored on the outside. Sautéing involves cooking small chicken pieces in a small amount of oil or butter on a high flame. Frying involves submerging chicken pieces in hot oil until they are cooked and crispy, especially in a fryer. Braising is the slow cooking of meat in oil and moisture in a sealed pan.
- Grilling: This technique is used to cook flavorful and smoky chicken over an open flame or grill and is perfect for outdoor gatherings. The chicken should be marinated and seasoned beforehand, and the grill should be closed to allow the meat to retain its juices. For even cooking and distribution of heat, use smaller pieces of the same size and a meat thermometer to determine the doneness.
Choose quality poultry
You don’t need a chef to tell you that top-quality ingredients can make your recipes taste better. Search for fresh and organic options, as they yield better flavors and textures. Try working with different cuts for different recipes.
Boneless breasts pack a lot of protein but can often be too dry. Pieces with bones pack more flavor and juice; they’re ideal for broths and dishes that require moisture. Thighs yield crispier skin, are economical, and are perfect for grilling and braising.
Monitor the temperature
Different meats and cuts require different amounts of time to cook. A meat thermometer is a widely used kitchen tool to determine the doneness of meat. No matter which technique you use to cook chicken, it’s smart to use a thermometer to prevent overcooking and undercooking.
As a general rule of thumb, the meat should not be too pink and should be close to 165 degrees Fahrenheit or above to reach the desired level of doneness.
Avoid over- or under-seasoning
Chicken is often called a bland and neutral-flavored meat. This makes it perfect for absorbing flavorful marinades, seasonings, sauces, and other wet ingredients used during preparation. This also means the meat needs to be carefully prepared, as it can be easily under- or over-seasoned.
It is a common practice to soak chicken in salt water for better flavor absorption. However, in many recipes that require citric marinades, soaking for more than two hours can ruin the meat. Follow recipes meticulously and pay attention to marinating instructions to get the best result.
The most common mistake people make while cooking is adding too much to the utensil. Overcrowding can result in uneven cooking that will affect the browning and crisping of the pieces. Cooking in small batches is time-consuming but has benefits that are worth the time and effort.
Working with fewer pieces is easier as they cook at an even and proper temperature. The meat can be flipped with ease to attain the perfect brown texture.
Defrost the right way
Fresh chicken offers the best quality of meat and is, therefore, the better choice to cook with. However, that may not always be an option and you’ll have to rely on frozen chicken. When dealing with frozen chicken, it is important to bring it to room temperature before cooking.
There are several ways to thaw chicken. The safest way is to transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator in a closed container a day or two before cooking. However, this method is time-consuming and can only be used for planned meals. Alternatively, a cold water bath or the microwave can help reduce the thawing period but carry a higher risk of foodborne illnesses. T
Making great chicken is all about paying attention to details and possessing a passion for cooking. Whether you are grilling, baking, braising, or simply boiling the meat, the key is to work with the finest ingredients, understand the techniques, and, above all, give a personal touch to every dish prepared.