Chicken is highly regarded by cooks for its widespread appeal and numerous advantages. Economical, versatile, and readily available, chicken is the perfect ingredient for easy, everyday recipes, as well as entertaining. It also stars in thousands of sought-after ethnic and regional recipes -- from chicken marsala, chicken parmesan, chicken enchiladas, and sesame chicken, to chicken fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, and even oven-fried chicken drumsticks.
Look for creamy white to yellow and avoid birds with bruises and blotchy marks.
Chicken boasts a positive nutritional profile, as well. It is high in protein, low in fat and cholesterol, and contains zero carbohydrates, making it a winning choice for healthy eating.
The vast selection of chicken products -- from boneless, skinless chicken breasts to whole birds -- can make choosing the right ones for your favorite chicken recipes a challenge. Knowing the differences between types of chicken make it easier to cook with chicken in your kitchen.
Chicken can keep in the coldest part of the fridge for up to two days. If the time between bringing it home from the CraftButcher and placing it into the oven is more than that, make sure to store chicken in the freezer in an airtight package. When you're handling chicken, it's important that you remain vigilant against salmonella bacteria. In addition to cooking chicken completely, you want to make sure you're taking precautions when working with chicken.
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Cutting up a chicken at home
- Start by cutting off the leg at the thigh joint. Slip the knife into the socket joint where the thigh meets the body. It should cut through easily. Cut off the other leg in a similar manner.
- In a similar manner, cut the wings from the body by cutting though the socket joint. Cut the tips off the wings and save for making stock or gravy.
- Cut the thigh from the drumstick by cutting through the "knee" joint. Again, this should not take much force if you find the socket. It you don't find it at first, flex the drumstick and see where it is attached to the thigh and cut there. Unless you want to leave the skin on (such as for barbecuing) pull off the thigh and leg skin at this point.
- Stand the body on end and cut between the breast and back. You are cutting through thin ribs and this should not take much effort except at the very bottom (neck) end, where you will need to push hard to cut through the bones where the back and breast join the neck.
- You should now have the whole breast (left) and the back parts (right).
- Cut the breast in half but putting your knife just to one side of the breast bone. Remove the skin.
- Cut each breast segment into two smaller pieces.
- Here are the eight good pieces you get from a whole chicken.
- Save the wing tips, backs and neck (and gizzard) for making gravy or stock. Save the chicken liver for another use. It is too strong to use in gravy.
Important note on cleanup
Be sure to wash the knife and cutting surface in hot, soapy water when you are done to avoid any possibility of salmonella contamination. Do not use the knife for any other purpose until you wash it.
Now, you are ready to make your chicken dish.