A Quick Guide by Premier Food Choice: Tips and Techniques for Properly Handling your Chicken
Although chicken is arguably considered to be the easiest meat to cook and is a frequent, go-to choice for kitchen newbies and lazy cooks alike, it is also one of the most high-maintenance meats when it comes to proper handling. Salmonella is a word we often hear and fear when it comes to cooking chicken. Seemingly simple factors like temperature or packaging can lead to big dangers for your health if you’re not aware of basic chicken must-knows.
To make sure we’re all spared from these potential misfortunes, we’re listing down some tips and techniques we’ve learned over the years when it comes to handling chicken before and after cooking. We hope you leave this article with a better understanding and more confidence when cooking your next chicken meal.
SHOPPING FOR CHICKEN
First thing’s first. Quality is king when it comes to chicken or any meat for that matter. Keep an eye out for these visual cues that indicate safe and top-quality chicken:
Make sure your chicken is properly sealed in its packaging, whether it is sold fresh or frozen.
If you’re buying frozen chicken: Pick the hardest chicken possible for assurance that it was properly stored frozen.
STORING YOUR CHICKEN
If you won’t be cooking your chicken anytime soon, store it in the freezer as soon as you get home. This will help maintain its freshness and keep it as its best possible state.
If you’re cooking chosen chicken parts and want to freeze the rest, use only freezer bags or at the very least, moisture-proof bags. Seal tightly to keep the moisture out and prevent bacteria growth.
Pat your packaging dry before storing in the freezer. Wet or dripping surfaces may contaminate other items in your freezer.
HANDLING YOUR CHICKEN
For fresh chicken:
Rinse your chicken before cooking. Make sure all liquids or drippings are washed off.
For frozen chicken:
Never defrost or thaw your chicken at room temperature.
We suggest defrosting through any of these two methods: (1) Leave in the refrigerator overnight, or (2) Submerge in a bowl of cold water and leave at room temperature.
For whole chickens, make sure all parts are completely thawed before cooking. You may insert your finger inside the cavity to check for any ice formations. For chicken cuts, press against the meat to feel the presence of any hard ice.
Once your chicken is completely defrosted, proceed to cooking immediately. If you change your mind about cooking your chicken, you can store it in the refrigerator for 24 hours at the most.
Keep your chicken isolated on a clean surface as much as possible. Make sure any liquid or drippings from your chicken does not touch other food items or kitchen surfaces. If they do, scrub and clean all surfaces to avoid contamination.
CUTTING YOUR CHICKEN
Cutting chicken can be done either fresh or frozen. However, we suggest cutting it before it is completely thawed. This makes it easier in terms of effort and achieving your desired size and thickness, plus it is cleaner and more hygienic in handling.
Many of us have been taught to follow the grain when cutting chicken as it is easier and requires less effort. Here’s a fun fact: Cutting against the grain will give you more tender chicken. To spot the grain, look for the white muscle fibers that appear as thin lines along the chicken. Cut across them in one clean motion.
CHECKING YOUR CHICKEN DONENESS
For chicken cuts:
Cut a piece open and check the color and opacity. It should appear completely opaque, showing no signs of pinkness.
For a whole chicken:
Prick your chicken, preferably at the thigh or breast part. You should see only clear juices flowing out. If juices come out pink, it is undercooked.
Go the extra mile by using a thermometer. Insert it in the thickest part of the chicken and make sure it reads at least 170F.
WHERE TO BUY QUALITY CHICKEN?
Our Chicken selection here at Premier Food Choice is carefully sourced by our global sourcing team with top quality and safety in mind. Shop our full range of chicken items at our Poultry section.
Available in Premier Food Choice:
Premier Chicken Leg Meat
Premier Chicken Breast Fillet
Chicken Tocino (All-Natural)