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From farm to table: A guide on how to choose, cook and serve chicken

Whether you always choose lean chicken breasts or simply love a crispy-skinned whole bird, this kitchen staple is incredibly versatile

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By IOL | March 20, 2023 | Recipes

Shoppers across the nation love its affordability and versatility – chicken is a table-pleaser for eaters of all ages. Among other nutrient benefits, chicken is an efficient dietary source of protein and provides all nine essential amino acids.

Chicken is readily available in pretty much every supermarket and restaurant, and is generally less expensive than other meats like pork and beef.

It is important to be familiar with the terms used to describe the chicken, how much to buy, know what to look for on the labels, and know what to look for when visually checking the meat. The following information will help you make a purchase suited to your needs.

Use the ‘best by’ before buying chicken

It is always good to make a habit of checking the “best by” date on any perishable foods.

This is especially true if you buy chicken as part of a meal plan for the week or month. Simply keep the date in mind for when you plan to cook the chicken cuts. Then, select the correct package, so that it remains fresh until you need it.

Select chicken that looks fresh

Don’t rely on that “best by” date alone. It’s also helpful to take note of the chicken’s colouring, which will give you some insight into the freshness of the package.

No matter what cut you’re buying, look for chicken that has a pink, fleshy-coloured hue. As chicken spoils, its colouring fades from pink to a dull grey. So, it’s best to skip over any packages containing chicken with even a hint of greyish colouring.

Avoid excess package liquid

If you are selecting chicken from the packaged meat in the grocery store, avoid packages that have excess liquid pooling in them.

Liquid like this happens when the meat purges fluids picked up from a water immersion process sometimes used to cool chicken to a safe temperature. This excess liquid can cause a soggy texture to the meat and dilute the flavour.

How do you cook better chicken? Whether you always choose lean chicken breasts or simply love a crispy-skinned whole bird, there is no denying that chicken makes a truly satisfying meal.

There are so many ways to prepare it, and the leftovers are sometimes even better than the main meal. Here are some of the popular ways.

Douse it in marinade

Using a marinade before cooking any type of chicken is extremely important to keep it moist.

While you marinate the chicken, make sure you keep the marinade moist and seal the chicken for not less than three to four hours; even better if you let it soak up the goodness overnight, especially in the case of grilled and tandoori chicken.

This will help the chicken to soak all the moisture from the marinade and while it cooks, it will not lose any of the liquid content, keeping it tender.

Soak it in a brine

Marinating is not the only culinary option you have for tenderising chicken. In fact, chicken is such a versatile protein that it soaks up just about anything you put it in.

With a bit more planning and slightly more labour, you can add incredible flavour to your next home-cooked chicken meal. If you want a juicy, moist chicken then brine it.

Season generously

Do not cut back on the salt and pepper if you want to keep your chicken flavourful. While salt and pepper are essentials, there are plenty of great seasonings that you will want to apply generously to baked chicken as well.

This is especially true for less forgiving cuts like boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

When all is done, chicken can be served alongside dishes like rice, pap, mashed potatoes, pasta, dinner rolls and salads.

There is a lot that can be said or uncovered about the domestic fowl, but for now, let us get roasting.

Written by Lutho Pasiya

This article originally appeared on IOL

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