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Good cooks know that nothing beats succulent, moist chicken. The problem is that cooking chicken without the skin to reduce fat too often produces dry, chewy and tasteless results. Steaming chicken is a healthy alternative. The best chicken steamer suits the needs and budget of the cook, as well as the size of the kitchen. For some, this will mean a less expensive stove-top stainless steel or bamboo steamer, while others will prefer a small, electric chicken steamer that frees up the stove without taking too much counter space.
White meat that has had the skin removed is especially low in fat, and even dark meat without the skin is a healthy alternative to beef and fattier meats. Baking or broiling chicken with the skin left on to retain moistness produces better-tasting birds, but a lot of the fat seeps into the meat during the cooking process. Steaming, however, eliminates both the problem of dry, tasteless chicken and that of moist but fat-drenched meat. The first step in selecting the best chicken steamer is to determine if the less expensive stove top models will fit the bill, or if an electric steamer is a better deal.
The least expensive option is probably stackable bamboo baskets that are designed to sit inside a wok or saucepan containing a small amount of boiling water. For a little more money, a stainless steel version of the same design is available. Cooks should shy away from any stove top steamer with plastic trays, however, since toxic chemicals can leach. As well, if the plastic scratches, the moist, warm environment can promote the growth of bacteria. Stove top steamers don’t allow the cook to monitor cooking without removing lids or entire trays, and this can be a safety hazard since steam can scald.
For a little more money, an electric chicken steamer is an option. If the unit doesn’t have stackable trays, it needs to be sufficiently deep and wide to hold enough pieces of boneless chicken. This type of unit will also take up more counter space. Alternatively, there are a number of stackable electric food steamers on the market that allow a cook to prepare an entire meal, including rice or potatoes, vegetables, and chicken.
The best electric chicken steamers will have a glass lid so cooking can be monitored without removing the lid, and glass or stainless steel trays. Although models with digital timers will cost a little more, they enable a cook to do other things until the timer beeps. Any electric unit should have an automatic shut-off to turn the device off when the water is gone. Also, it should be easy to add more water without disassembling the entire machine.
Where can this be found? The Wolfgang one is discontinued, the Emeril one also, and I really can't find one on the market that is stainless steel base, non-bpa surround, and glass or non-bpa top. The egg steamers work well and I used that to do a bit of broccoli but it's not family sized. Thanks!
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