Smart Cooking Tips

Useful tips for easy cooking

Chicken is versatile, inexpensive, and a great source of protein. But raw chicken requires some special care in the kitchen. Read on for quick tips to help you handle, prep and cook your family's favourite dishes.

1. Store raw chicken in the coldest part of your refrigerator and use it within two days.

2. Never leave raw or frozen chicken at room temperature, which encourages the growth of bacteria like Salmonella and Listeria.

3. Freeze any chicken that won’t be used right away. You can freeze it in its store packaging, but if you plan on storing it for longer than two months, unwrap the chicken and rewrap it in heavy duty aluminum foil and a plastic freezer bag. Chicken can be frozen as long as one year without sacrificing quality.

4. Thaw frozen chicken slowly and safely. You can thaw chicken more quickly in a cold water bath or by using the defrost cycle of the microwave. But never thaw frozen chicken by leaving it out at room temperature.

5. Rinse chicken with cold water, inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels before preparing. To prevent cross-contamination, thoroughly clean all surfaces, utensils, cutting boards, knives, and hands with hot soapy water after handling raw poultry. Keep a separate cutting board specifically for working with chicken.

6. To test chicken pieces, insert a fork in the chicken. It should go in with ease and the juices should run clear. However, the meat and juices nearest the bones might still be a little pink even though the chicken is cooked thoroughly. Boneless chicken pieces are done when the centers are no longer pink; you can determine this by simply cutting into the chicken with a knife.

7. Once you take a piece of meat out of the oven, its temperature will continue to rise. How much it rises depends on the size of the piece of meat and the temperature at which you were cooking it. For smaller pieces of meat, such as breasts, the temperature may only rise one or two degrees. For larger cuts and whole birds, the temperature can continue to rise as much as 10-15 degrees over a half hour to forty-five minutes.

8. Keep carryover cooking in mind when you roast any sort of meat, and allow for it in your temperature readings. For example, when roasting a whole chicken, take it out of the oven when the breast reads an internal temperature of 155º F-157º F, cover it and let it rest, allowing the temperature to rise to 165º F.

9. Always let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator, even for a short soak of 30 minutes. And never baste the cooked chicken with the same marinade that’s touched raw chicken: either make extra marinade and set aside a portion just for basting, or boil it for two to three minutes, enough time to kill any bacteria.

10. Cooked chicken should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours. Package it up in an air-tight container and store it in the fridge for up to two days.


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