Whether you’ve raised organic poultry yourself, purchased it at a nearby farm or are cooking standard commercially raised chicken, we’ve put together some tips for you on cooking chicken that is country perfect.
Chicken is one of the easiest animals to raise and certainly one of the most versatile meats to use in your family meals.
Choose perfect poultry. When cooking chicken, choose poultry that has moist, light butter-colored, skin. The skin should be unbroken with no dark patches. Fresh poultry should be stored loosely covered on a plate in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Tips When Cooking Chicken
When cooking chicken for a fried meal, add a teaspoon of baking powder to your coating mix then coat and fry as you normally would. Remember to make sure that the oil is very hot before adding the chicken to avoid an overpowering greasy taste.
Don’t salt farm raised chicken before cooking. One of the biggest faux pas when it comes to cooking meat is to salt it prior to cooking. What the salt actually does is draws the juices out and impedes the browning of the meat. Instead, add salt once the meat is already half cooked. Then taste it when it’s done and if more salt is needed you can add it then. The result is juicy, tasty chicken that doesn’t contain more salt then it needs!
- Despite what you may have heard, poultry does not need to be washed before cooking. Wipe it with a damp cloth if needed. If it has been frozen, wipe it with absorbent paper to remove any excess moisture. Always be sure that poultry is cooked through. To test for readiness, pierce the flesh at the thickest part with a fork. If the juices run clear then it is cooked.
- Make perfect gravy when cooking chicken or turkey. My trick? Use tea! Boil a large pot of water and when you put the turkey in the oven add two orange pekoe tea bags. Let the tea steep on top of the stove until the turkey is done then add it to the juices in the pan. Thicken with a mixture of flour and water or cornstarch and water.
- Quickly cook your farm raised chicken for recipes requiring pre-cooked chicken. An easy method of preparing chicken for recipes that call for pre-cooked chicken is to “poach” it. This involves simmering it slowly in liquid. This can be water, broth, fruit juice, wine or a combination of these. Poach the chicken until tender, about 15-20 minutes, then chop or slice as specified in the recipe.
- When cooking chicken that has been farm raised, use a marinade to add flavor. A good marinade will add lots of extra flavor and juices to meats and vegetables. But be careful not to marinade longer than the recipe calls for. Chicken is a perfect meat to marinade unlike some other foods, seafood in particular, which break down when marinated in acidic ingredients such as vinegar, wine or citrus fruit juices. The result can be a mushy mess that no one wants to eat!
- Want thicker gravy? Mix some butter and flour in a frying pan and cook until the mixture is smooth and thick. Add it to your hot gravy for a thick and rich texture.
- Recipes sometimes call for chicken stock, chicken broth, chicken bouillon or consommé. In recipes calling for stock, you can use homemade or canned stock prepared from purchased cubes or powdered bases. (Be sure to watch the amount of salt you later add to your recipe though because some cubes and powdered bases are very salty). Stock, broth and bouillon are basically the same – the clear liquid produced when meat, bones and vegetables are simmered in water to extract flavor and then strained. Stock can be made from meat, poultry, fish or vegetables. Consommé is stronger than bouillon; it is stock enriched with more meat and vegetables and then concentrated and clarified.
- Keep chicken broth handy. Not only is chicken broth an easy way to add flavor to sauces, it can also be used to add moisture to dry stuffing. And the unsalted variety can be used to tame over-salty gravy without diluting the flavor.