Sunday, January 19, 2014

Cooking Chicken

Chicken is an extremely versatile fowl that can be incorporated into virtually any meal course or food category: soup, appetizer, salad, entree, sandwich, pizza and pasta.  The only thing perhaps it cannot be made into is dessert, though many cuisines combine chicken with sweet sauces and even fruits.  Pretty much all the cuisines of countries have countless versions of dishes made from chicken.

When preparing chicken recipe, extra care must be taken to avoid contamination as poultry products and eggs can contain bacteria, specifically salmonella, that can cause food poisoning if not cooked completely.  Even the handling of raw chicken must be considered as tools like knives, storage ware, serving containers, and chopping boards can be tainted with the bacteria when it comes into contact with the bird.  To be sure, wash everything in hot water when cooking healthy chicken recipes and other food items like salads.  Some even use color coded chopping boards (red for chicken, blue for other meats, green for vegetable soup recipe, etc.) to eliminate such risks.

Speaking of contamination and bacteria, it goes without saving that chicken must be cooked thoroughly to kill off any harmful agent and yield a wholesome dish.  Particularly with preparing a whole bird like a roast or stuffed chicken, it is recommended to use a meat thermometer which indicates the doneness of the bird all through to the center.  In the absence of a thermometer, there are some guidelines on how long a bird is cooked given the oven temperature and the weight of the bird.  Another tip it to insert a knife to the thickest or deepest part of the bird and lightly touch it to the lips.  If it is warm, the dish is done.

On the other hand, take care not to overcook chicken as it has the tendency to dry out.  When using dry heat like baking and roasting, you can baste the chicken with a marinade or olive oil to keep the meat moist as it cooks.

Do not let the small risk of food poisoning deter you from preparing this great poultry product.  Just follow good kitchen sanitation and cooking time and you’ll be fine.  Chicken is high in protein and naturally low in fat if the skin is removed prior to serving.  It is not recommended to remove skin especially the breast before cooking as it tends to dry out the meat.

Other health considerations is using free range and organic chickens which are raised without synthetic feeds, growth hormones and/or are allowed to pasture in an open area rather than cramped in coops. 

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