These frequently asked questions about chicken have made me think about one of my favorite foods. I’ve always enjoyed cooking with chicken for a variety of reasons. First of all, it’s in every grocery store, so it’s easy to find.
Secondly, it’s versatile because there are so many ways to prepare it. Third, it’s economical, especially when you choose certain parts, like thighs and legs. Fourth, it’s good for you. And fifth, it’s delicious.
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Popularity of Chicken
Chicken is one of the most popular foods in the U.S. as well as the rest of the world. There are many reasons for this, including the great flavor, the versatility, and the health benefits.
Knowing how to purchase, store, and cook chicken is important. You’ll find answers to many of your questions below.
What are the Health Benefits of Eating Chicken?
Chicken contains quite a few nutrients that are essential to getting and staying healthy. A small amount of chicken also aids in a feeling of fullness, thus making it an excellent food for many diets.
Here are some of the other benefits you get from eating chicken:
- Protein is essential for strong, healthy muscles and other tissues throughout your body.
- Chicken contains selenium, phosphorus, and niacin.
- It’s also rich in the B vitamins and tryptophan, providing a calming effect.
- Vitamin B6 in chicken helps to promote heart health.
- Chicken has zinc, potassium, and other important nutrients that keep your body running smoothly.
How Do You Select Chicken?
There are several factors you need to consider when choosing chicken. If you have a family that likes a variety, you might want to get a whole chicken.
If you’re trying to follow a low-fat diet plan, skinless chicken breasts are a good choice. Unless I’m making chicken tenders, I like to get breasts with the bone in because it has more flavor as it cooks.
Chicken wings are the perfect choice for parties and events. They’re a delicious finger food that you can dip in a variety of sauces, including this yummy buttermilk ranch dressing. Or try this honey mustard dressing for something a little different.
What Should You Look for When Buying Chicken?
Whether you’re shopping at a grocery store or meat market, find the date on the chicken. At a grocery store, it’s usually on the outside of the package near the price and weight. At a meat market, you can ask the people who work there.
Some chicken packages have a use-by date, while others have a sell-by date. Make sure you either cook or freeze the chicken before the use-by date. You can safely use the chicken up to 2 days past the sell-by date.
Another thing to look for is the freshness of the chicken. The skin should have a slightly yellowish tint, and the meat should be pinkish. If you can smell the chicken, don’t buy it. Raw chicken shouldn’t have an odor.
If you’re looking for a kosher chicken or one that needs to satisfy religious requirements, look for an indication on the label. If you can’t find the information, ask the butcher.
Buy chicken based on the number of servings you’ll need. For a family of four with two small children, a pack of 4 or 6 chicken legs is probably plenty. However, if you’re feeding a bunch of hungry teenagers, you’ll probably need twice that amount.
Chicken is graded, with A being the best quality. That means there are no feathers, the chicken is in good condition, and there are no deformities. In some cases, you’ll find grade B and C chicken as well.
What is the Best Part of the Chicken?
Decide whether you want one cut of chicken or a variety. Some dishes call for boneless skinless chicken breast, while others are better with bone-in skin-on chicken thighs or legs. If you’re baking or frying chicken, a variety of cuts might the best choice so everyone can have their favorite.
How Should You Store Raw Chicken?
Raw chicken should be stored in either the refrigerator or freezer. If you’re not going to eat it over the next day or two, freeze it. However, if you plan to eat it soon, keep it in the refrigerator.
The best place in the refrigerator is on a low shelf to prevent any of the juice from dripping on other items. You can also use a plastic storage container to contain the chicken an its juices.
How Should You Thaw Chicken?
The best way to thaw chicken is to keep it in the refrigerator until there are no ice crystals left. Other safe ways to thaw chicken are to microwave it on low or submerge it in a bowl or bucket of cold water. If you choose the latter method, change out the water every half hour.
Never leave chicken out on the counter or in a bowl of hot water to thaw. The chicken can go bad quickly and cause sickness.
Should You Rinse Chicken Before You Cook It?
Some people like to rinse chicken before cooking it. In fact, that was something I was taught when I first started cooking. However, I have since learned that you should not do this.
Rinsing raw chicken can cause bacteria to splash onto the faucet, kitchen counters, your pan, or your clothing. This causes spread of dangerous bacteria that can make you very sick.
How Can You Prevent Getting Salmonella from Chicken?
Always handle, store, and cook your chicken properly. Never leave it sitting out on the kitchen counter at room temperature to thaw. Instead, place it in the refrigerator.
Cook your chicken until it is completely done. That doesn’t mean you have to cook it until it dries out. Just make sure the juices run clear and the internal temperature is at least 165˚ F to destroy salmonella and other bacteria.
How Do You Know When Chicken is Done?
There are a couple of ways you can check to see if the chicken is done. Looking at the color of the outside of the chicken can fool you because although the outer part of the chicken looks done, the inside can still be raw. The first way I mention below is the most accurate method if done correctly.
Chicken is considered done when the thickest part of the meat has an internal temperature of 165˚ F. This is why I always recommend a meat thermometer for anyone who cooks. If you don’t already have one, this meat thermometer from Amazon is a good one.
Another way to check for doneness is to cut the meat at the thickest part. If the juices run clear, chances are, the chicken is done. If there is any red in the juice, it needs to cook longer.
How Do You Freeze Cooked Chicken?
It’s very easy to freeze cooked chicken. Put the cooked chicken in an airtight bag or container. Label it with what’s in it and the date, and then put it in the freezer. These freezer bags from Amazon are excellent.
How Long Can You Store Cooked Chicken in the Freezer?
As I mentioned above, make sure you put the date on the outside of the airtight container. I use a sharpie because it doesn’t smudge. You can keep cooked chicken in the freezer for up to 3 months before thawing it.
What Can You Do with Leftover Chicken?
There are many things you can do with leftover chicken. Here are a few of them:
Chicken Salad – You can make this versatile dish with rotisserie, canned, or any leftover chicken. We enjoy eating it on sandwiches and as the centerpiece of a salad.
Chicken Pot Pie – Make this one-pan meal the traditional way or try the alternative method I show to keep it gluten-free.
Chicken Taco Soup – I make this delicious soup in an Instant Pot, but you can also use the stovetop or slow cooker if you have the time.
How Should You Reheat Leftover Chicken?
If you are putting the leftover chicken in a casserole or soup recipe, simply thaw it before using it. However, if you just want to heat the chicken as-is, use your oven, microwave, or air fryer.
For the oven method, preheat it to 350˚ F. Place the chicken in a dish that you can cover and add moisture such as water or chicken broth. Cover it and heat it until it reaches an internal temperature of 365˚ F.
If you’re microwaving it, place the chicken on a microwave-safe plate and cover it with a paper towel or plastic wrap. Cook it on high for 2 minutes. If that isn’t enough, continue cooking in 30 second increments.
In order to preheat your chicken in an air fryer, preheat the fryer to 350˚ F. Spray the basket with cooking oil or spray and place the chicken on it in a single layer. Cook for 2-3 minutes, flip it over, and cook for an additional 2 minutes or until heated.
Regardless of how you choose to reheat leftover chicken, the thickness of the meat will determine how long it takes. The thinner pieces, such as wings, will heat more quickly, whereas a large thigh or breast will take longer. Use your meat thermometer to make sure it reaches 165˚ F.
How Many Ways Can You Cook Chicken?
There are so many ways to cook chicken, you can have it every night for a month and never repeat the same recipe. Although it’s flavorful on its own, it pairs extremely well with a variety of sauces, gravies, and seasonings.
You can also bake, broil, boil, pressure cook, microwave, grill, and air fry chicken. The possibilities are endless.
Here are more yummy ways I cook chicken:
Crock Pot Hawaiian Chicken – The tropical flavor of this chicken is like a vacation in the mouth with every bite.
Chicken Noodle Casserole – Here is comfort food at its finest. This one is also a one-pot meal that is super easy and satisfies even the hungriest family member.
Catalina Chicken – I cook this flavorful dish in the slow cooker, but you can also use the stovetop or oven.
Italian Chicken Zucchini Casserole – This is a lip-smacking dish that also makes great leftovers. You’ll want to add it to your dinner rotation because the family will love it.
Chicken Stroganoff – We wanted the stroganoff flavor, so I used what I had on hand to make this yummy chicken stroganoff. It is absolutely delicious.
Chicken Rice Casserole – Here’s another dish that you can make with fresh, raw chicken or leftover rotisserie chicken. It’s good no matter what form of chicken you use.
White Chicken Chili – The best way to describe this dish is yummy, flavorful, quick, and easy. It satisfies your craving for south-of-the-border flavor, and you can make it in just a few minutes.
Chicken with Creamy Mushroom Sauce – The rich flavors in this delightful chicken dish will let your family know how special they are. You can serve it with a variety of sides dishes.
Fun Facts About Chicken
It’s always fun to learn interesting, although trivial, facts about what you’re eating. Since we eat so much chicken at our house, I thought I’d dig a little deeper to see what I can come up with. I found some of this information at the National Chicken Council.
Here are some fun facts I discovered about chicken:
- Americans ate approximately 1.42 billion during the latest Super Bowl.
- More chicken appears on the plates of Americans than any other main course food.
- More than half of all chicken sold at American restaurants is fried.
- The average American consumes more than 80 pounds of chicken each year.
- In order to produce a dozen eggs, chickens need to eat more than 4 pounds of feed.
- There were more than 1.7 billion chickens in the U.S. and 3.6 billion chickens in China in the year 2000.
- There are more chickens than people in this world.
- Chickens can remember the faces of more than 100 different people or animals. Who knew they had such great memories?
- The color of a chicken’s egg is determined by the chicken’s earlobes. If they have red earlobes, they lay brown eggs. Chickens with white earlobes lay white eggs.
- In some cities, it’s illegal to eat fried chicken with a fork and knife. Gainesville, Florida, has a law on the books that requires you to eat it with your hands.
- Buffalo wings were named after the city they created in—Buffalo, New York.
See this information shared at Full Plate Thursday.