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Chicken Cooking Basics

Chicken is one of the most popular meat for meals; it is clean to cut, easy to cook, and can be prepared in a wide variety of styles.

Aside from the conveniences of chicken, it is also a healthy meat to opt for; it has a very low calorie and fat content (if the skin is put aside), and is also full of protein to keep you energized and strong. However, as with all fresh meats, chicken spoils very quickly if not frozen; there is added danger of catching diseases such as Salmonella or Listeria if it is undercooked or spoilt, so be sure to use care when handling and preparing.

Keep It Cold

Incorporating raw or undercooked chicken in your meals can be very dangerous; always be sure to store chicken in the coldest parts of your fridge, and use fresh meat within 2 days of purchase. If you are not going to use the chicken straight away, a simple solution would be to store it in the freezer; if you plan to use it within two months, it can be left in the store-packaging. However, if you intend to keep the chicken frozen for long periods of time (3+ months) you should unwrap the meat and rewrap it yourself in heavy aluminum foil and a plastic freezer bag.

  • Frozen chicken can still be used after 1 year if stored in the right frozen conditions.
  • Thawing chicken is an important step; if the meat has been frozen long, it could take from 24 hours to 2 days for a while chicken to completely thaw. If the meat is cut into pieces, the thawing process could take from 2 – 9 hours.
  • To speed up the thawing process, and option is to soak the chicken in a cold water bath or use your microwaves “defrost” feature.

Keep it Clean

Chicken catches bacteria very quickly, so always be sure to thoroughly rinse the meat with cold water and pat dry with paper towels before using. Also, be sure that all materials used to prepare chicken (such as utensils , counter-surfaces and hands) are cleaned with hot water after coming into contact with raw chicken.

Get it Done

Chicken can be very deceptive; it may looked cooked on the outside, but could still be raw on the inside. For this reason, using a meat thermometer is the only accurate measure to ensure it is fully cooked. When testing the temperature of a whole chicken, insert the thermometer into the thigh, being cautious to steer clear of the bone. The optimum temperature for chicken meat is 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius). Chicken meat is also special in the sense that it will continue cooking even when taken off of the heat source; you can remove the chicken from the oven or off the grill a few minutes before the intended time; just keep checking the temperature to guarantee it stays high enough.

More Chicken Safety Tips

  • Want your chicken tastefully marinated or brined? Be sure to let the meat soak in marinade for at least 30 minutes, to get a full and lasting flavor.
  • Never baste cooked chicken with the same marinade used for the raw meat; either set aside a bowl for after-cooking, or prepare another serving. This prevents bacteria being transferred to your finished dish. You can also boil the marinade for 2 – 3 minutes to kill any lingering bacteria.
  • Do not leave your cooked chicken in open air for more than 2 hours; either put it in an air-tight container or refrigerate it.
  • Cooked chicken can be stored in the fridge for 2 days without spoiling.

Chinese Chicken Recipes


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Last Modified: 11/28/11.