While chicken's lower fat content is a boon to our health, it can quickly rob the meat of moisture if overcooked. On the other hand, undercooked chicken can risk lead to you getting a foodborne illness because of bacteria, such as Salmonella. Striking the proper balance results in a delicious main course. Here's how to ensure chicken cooking success:
Cheaper cuts of chicken are injected with a liquid that contains water, salt and other preservatives in a practice called "plumping."
Plumping helps preserve the chicken while making the cut a little juicier -- unfortunately, the liquid cooks away if not handled properly. Choosing organic, free-range chicken is optimal, but even those brands labeled "natural" or "no water added" are better options. Chicken with the bone left in and the skin still on it is a better choice in terms of both price and flavor -- bone-in chicken is generally cheaper and the skin fat renders down nicely into the chicken when cooked, providing extra flavor.
Whether you are using boneless chicken or the bone-in variety, your choice of cooking method is crucial for a tender and juicy result. Boiling chicken in water tends to squeeze the juices out of the chicken, leaving it dry and rubbery. Baking chicken has been known to yield a tasty, juicy result. It is highly recommended to have a meat thermometer when cooking chicken, as poultry must reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees and using a meat thermometer will allow you to know exactly when you've reached that point and reduce the risk of overcooking.
Pan sautéeing chicken allows you to sear and cook the chicken in its own juices. You'll want to use cooking oils with a high smoking point and avoid fiddling too much with the chicken once it's in the pan to ensure maximum flavor and juiciness.
If your cuts of meat are a little on the larger side, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and place your chicken inside after cooking it in the butter. This will ensure that the inside of the thicker cuts of chicken are cooked all the way through without completely drying the outside.
With bone-in cuts, grilling is a great way to get a juicy and tender finished product. In order to get the best tasting results from grilled chicken, you'll want to soak your cuts of meat in a brine for a couple of days. When it's time to grill: