Pointers before preparing chicken
METRO — Chicken is a versatile food that can be found on menus at restaurants across the globe. Whether it’s stuffed chicken on the menu at an Italian restaurant or a spicy chicken dish from a local Indian eatery, chicken can be served in an assortment of ways.
As a global pandemic took hold in the winter of 2019-20, many people found themselves cooking at home more than ever before, and the versatility of chicken made it a go-to on home menus. People thrust into cooking duties despite little or no previous culinary experience should know that chicken can be cooked in a variety of ways and goes well with myriad side dishes. That makes chicken an ideal item to consider when planning meals for yourself and/or your family.
Millions of people across the globe eat chicken without incident every day. However, the threat of food poisoning is there when cooking chicken, so it’s wise for home cooks to take a few precautionary measures when making meals with chicken.
– Thaw frozen chicken correctly. It can be tempting to take chicken out of the freezer and leave it on the counter to thaw in the hours before dinnertime. But that’s potentially very dangerous. The United States Department of Agriculture notes that strains of bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli can be found on raw chicken. These bacteria thrive at room temperature, leaving you and others vulnerable to foodborne illnesses. When thawing frozen chicken, place the chicken in the refrigerator in a sealable plastic bag. Chicken also can be thawed in a microwave, but the online medical resource Healthline notes that chicken that has thawed in a microwave must be cooked immediately afterward to kill any bacteria.
– Be careful when rinsing chicken with water. The Australian Chicken Meat Federation notes that rinsing uncooked chicken with water can lead to contamination if chicken juices and any accompanying bacteria are splashed into the sink or onto surrounding surfaces, such as countertops. If you rinse chicken with water, make sure the water is running low to reduce splashing, and clean any areas that may have been contaminated, including the sink, immediately afterward.
– Clean all surfaces that have come into contact with raw chicken. Even if you don’t rinse chicken with water, all surfaces that have come into contact with raw chicken should be cleaned immediately. WebMD advises using hot, soapy water to clean surfaces that have or may have come into contact with raw chicken or chicken juices.
– Confirm chicken is thoroughly cooked before serving. WebMD notes that chicken can be checked for doneness by cutting a slit into the thickest part of the chicken piece to see if it is cooked through. Juices from cooked chicken run clear, not pink. If the juice or meat is pink, the chicken needs further cooking.
– Don’t baste with your marinade. If you’re marinating chicken prior to cooking it, discard the marinade once you remove the raw chicken from it. Raw chicken marinade may contain bacteria that can make people sick, so never baste cooking chicken with the same marinade you used when the chicken was raw.
Chicken is a versatile food that can be served in myriad ways. Safety should always be a priority when thawing, preparing, cooking, and serving chicken.