Get The Best From Your Chicken Breast
Some people may think chicken to be a bland, uninteresting, can’t-really-do-anything-with-it meat – but in fact, it’s actually extremely versatile and a huge source of protein.
What’s more, it’s great to have a supply of cooked chicken in the fridge ready to be made into chicken, sweet corn and mayo sandwiches, or even to protein up a boring salad.
The main issue with chicken is how people cook it – usually overdone, which leaves it stringy and dry.
All this ‘overdoing’ has been brought about by fear of dreaded food poisoning, which is a very real and nasty consequence of under cooking chicken.
Chicken, you see, is a much less dense meat than beef allowing bacteria to permeate through the muscle, especially when the poultry has just been plucked as the removal of feathers opens the meat to outside bacteria.
But where is the balance? How do we know when chicken is finger lickin’ good, or a ticking time bomb?
Essentially, there are two main methods for cooking chicken – dry and moist. Both methods cover multiple fun ways to get the most out of the meat and depend on individual preferences – but here are a few top tips to make sure you cook perfect poultry every time!
Dry Heat – This includes frying, baking and roasting and is normally the main culprit in overdone chicken! This usually happens because of the uneven thickness of the meat when people try to cook it so pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness to ensure thorough, but even cooking.
Moist Heat – Steaming, poaching, microwaving and slow cooking. Don’t be fooled, just because it’s ‘moist’ doesn’t mean all those tasty juices will still be there when you’re finished!
The trick here is timing.
Chicken doesn’t take as long to cook through as most people think, in fact to poach a breast it normally only takes around 15 minutes.
Temperature – All chefs and experts agree that when it comes to chicken the key thing is temperature – which is usually the last thing on amateur minds!
The recommendation for the internal temperature is 77 degrees C although the Food Standards Agency say as soon as it reaches 70 degrees C it’s good to munch on!
Cooling – If you want to chill your now moist and succulent chicken be sure to cool the meat very quickly.
Don’t let it sit and chill to room temperature before putting it in the fridge because this is prime time for new bacteria to grow.
Instead, put it into a container and place in an ice water bath and keep for a maximum 3-4 days in the fridge – no longer.
Best advice? Buy a good meat thermometer when wanting to cook this versatile and nutritionally exceptional meat without compromising on juiciness.