Chicken is a versatile meal option, because it is available in many forms and can be cooked in different ways depending on your recipe. How you choose to cook your chicken will depend on your desired prep time, as well as any other ingredients or side dishes you wish to include as part of your meal.

SELECTION

At the grocery store, you will need to select the type of chicken you want to prepare. Cooking a whole chicken is usually not efficient unless it is necessary for a particular recipe. Among the most popular types of chicken are breasts, thighs, legs, and wings. These are usually found in the freezer section. No matter what cut of chicken you choose, the preparation process will be about the same.

THAWING

In most cases, chicken needs to be thawed before it can be cooked. To thaw the chicken, place the bag in a plastic bowl in your refrigerator overnight.

If you need to thaw your chicken faster, use the microwave. Settings and thawing time will vary, so check your microwave’s instructions. Make sure you are using your microwave’s defrost setting.

To determine whether it is fully thawed, touch and feel the chicken. It should be squishy and flexible. If it still feels icy or solid, it needs more time to defrost.

SAFETY

If you have touched raw chicken, be sure to wash your hands. Salmonella and other bacteria can be present in chicken and other raw meat, so it’s important to be careful that you wash your hands after touching raw meat before touching any other foods or surfaces.

PREPARATION

You can use a variety of seasonings to prepare the meat. Salt and pepper are always handy, but also consider less-used spices like rosemary and basil. These can be applied directly to the raw meat. Decide how you will cook the chicken. Among the most common options are baking, sauteing, and frying.

BAKING

To bake the chicken, place it in a shallow, greased pan. You may want to include garlic, apples, onions, or other aromatic vegetables to give the chicken more flavor. Another option is whether you want to marinate the chicken in a stock or white wine. Just add it to the pan if you’d like. Preheat your oven to 400. Once it is ready, place the pan in the oven for 45-60 minutes. Cooking time will vary based on the amount of chicken you are cooking, as well as your oven calibration. The chicken juices should run clear, and the internal temperature should reach 140 before it is done and safe to eat.

SAUTEING

To saute your chicken, grab a frying pan and put it on medium heat. Lightly oil the pan, and once it’s hot, place the meat in it. It’s easier to gauge when chicken is done by this method, because it will change color as it cooks. This should take 6-8 minutes, and you’ll want to flip each piece over halfway through cooking. You can tell it’s done when the meat is all white and you can’t see any pink.

FRYING

Another popular method is frying, which is best done in a deep fryer. The fryer of hot oil rapidly cooks the chicken; for specific instructions including temperature and recommended type of oil, check the instructions for your fryer. Many department stores sell fat fryers for personal use. Fried chicken is often best when breaded.

Aside from being one of the most popular meats, chicken is among the easiest to cook. With a little preparation and practice, you can cook great chicken for yourself, your friends, and your family.


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