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There are a variety of tips for cooking chicken, many of which depend on how one cooks the chicken and the form of the chicken — frying chicken breast and broiling a whole chicken raise different issues. An important consideration when cooking chicken is to completely cook it, not only to maximize flavor, but more importantly, to kill harmful bacteria. While it's important to fully cook chicken, it's also important not to overcook it as that can result in dry chicken that lacks flavor and tenderness. It's also important to adjust cooking times for whole chickens, bone-in chicken parts and boneless chicken. Without bones, cooking chicken typically takes approximately half the time of bone-in cuts.
To make sure chicken is properly cooked, an instant-read thermometer is helpful. Thermometers are a more surefire way of ensuring that the chicken is completely cooked through. Relying on timing isn't always wise as ovens can cook at different temperatures despite what the oven dial or display says. Additionally, cutting into the chicken can cause the loss of some of its juices and therefore flavor. Appropriate cooking temperatures are usually listed in recipes or they can be found online.
Some of the best tips for cooking chicken actually have to do with what one does before it's cooked. Buying a fresh chicken and properly storing it is important. When fresh chicken is purchased, it is best to cook it right away as freezing will frequently dry it out and impair its moistness. If freezing is necessary, it should be double or triple wrapped in plastic or preferably placed in a tightly sealed freezer storage bag to prevent freezer burn, dry skin and tough flesh. Slowly defrosting the bird in the refrigerator instead of on a kitchen counter generally yields a juicier cooked dish and normally reduces the chance of harmful bacteria forming on the chicken. Submerging the chicken in water while defrosting in the refrigerator will actually defrost the bird faster.
A significant number of cooks remove the skin before cooking chicken parts. This is typically done to reduce the fat and calories in the finished dish. One disadvantage of this approach, however, is that the chicken itself is more likely to dry out and become tough. Brining the chicken before cooking it keeps your final product both lean, moist, and soft.
Roasted whole chicken is generally easy to prepare in most home kitchens that have a traditional oven with a reliable thermostat. It is normally a good idea to place the chicken in a pan large enough to capture the juices that the chicken creates as it roasts. A good tip to achieve a crispy exterior on roast chicken is to lightly oil the surface before placing it into the oven.
When frying chicken, a non-stick pan can come in handy as it will require less oil. It is normally a good idea to dry the chicken with a towel before frying it to avoid spattering when it touches the heated oil in the pan. To ensure all the pieces are done at the same time, cooking the dark meat pieces first, which take longer to cook than the white meat of the breast portions, is often helpful.
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