There is simply no denying that chicken is one of the most cooked foods in the world. This is because it is not only so readily available, but it is truly economical. Just visit your local grocery store and you be able to pick up two to three nights worth of chicken for around $11.00. That a pretty good deal when you consider the fact that you can combine it with other ingredients to create amazing and different dishes. It’s a meat that you’ll never tire of, and this is probably just one of the many reasons that people keep coming back to it. The only problem with chicken is that there is so much that can go wrong. Sure, there really is no wrong way to cook chicken, but if you want to the best out of your bird, you’ll need to make sure that you are applying certain techniques and avoid common mistakes.
1. Skinless Breasts
The number one mistake that you are likely making is choosing skinless breasts. This probably seems like the smart decision given that they are easy to work with and you’ve probably heard that the skin of the chicken is unhealthy. Well, you might be surprised to learn that there are several distinct advantages that come along with cooking with skin. One is that it helps the chicken retain its moisture content. Is your chicken coming out dry? It could be because you are opting for skinless breasts. Try the skinned and see how dry they come out. It’s likely you’ll notice a major difference.
2. Not Marinating
Going back to the above scenario, there is simply no denying that chicken is dry. It’s just a dry dish and there aren’t many ways around that. This is especially true when it comes to the breasts of a chicken, given that they are not as fatty as the other parts of the chicken. This is where marinating comes in handy. A simple marinade, brine, or rub could go a long way in not only adding moisture content but overall flavor to your dish. If you want to keep things as simple as possible, there’s nothing wrong with opting for basic salt and pepper.
3. Avoiding The Pounding
A lot of professionals from Corrie Cooks will tell you that a lot of people are skipping the pounding step. Most people choose chicken as a dinner dish because it is so easy, readily available, and accessible. This means that they are already pressed on time and trying to get dinner on the table as quickly as possible. There is nothing wrong with this, but when you get in a hurry, you start making mistakes. And, avoiding or skipping the pounding stage all together is a major mistake. Why? Pounding is a process that helps tenderize the meat. When you pound the chicken, it really breaks down the proteins in the meat. Not only this but if you are dealing with thinner breasts, it’ll likely save you time because it reduces the overall time required to cook.
That’s right, taking the time to pound the chicken out might actually save you time in the long run. Especially if you are dealing with thinner breasts or cuts.
4. Not Properly Pounding
Going back to pounding, it’s not just enough to pound out the chicken. You need to make sure that you are pounding them out evenly. When all your cuts are pounded out evenly it’ll make it easier to achieve the proper internal temperature. Breasts and cuts that are thinner than others will likely dry out faster when cooking. If your cuts are pounded evenly, you’ll have to leave one cooking longer than the other, potentially dying out the thinner cut. This is unless, of course, you physically just remove it from the pot or pan and let the others continue cooking.
No one wants to eat raw chicken. Can you say salmonella? However, this doesn’t mean that an overcooked bird is a pleasant one either. If you’ve ever had one that was overcooked, you already know exactly what this taste like. Nonetheless, it’s something you’ll want to avoid. And, the hardest part is that you can’t always go by your recipe’s instructions or time limits. You have to remember that although you are following a recipe as closely as possible, it is entirely possible that your chicken is cut, pounded, or just made differently. It takes practice and experience. A good thermometer is also a route that you might want to take. Try to reach an internal temp of around 160-degree F and you’ll likely notice a huge difference in your outcome.
6. No Resting Meat
Have you ever pulled a piece of meat directly off the grill or stove and cut into it? Maybe you were testing the temp or just want to see what the insides looked like. Whatever the reasoning was, you likely noticed one thing with all scenarios. You likely noticed that the meat spilled out juices as you cut into and pulled it apart. Well, that’s juicy goodness. Goodness that most people would rather savor in their mouths. One of the best ways to avoid losing this juicy goodness is by putting the meats in a tin foil or just simply avoid cutting them for 10 minutes or so after removing from the oven or grill.
Give the meats time enough to soak the juices back up. The foil will also help, as it’ll be like the meats are just lying there in the juice, marinating.
7. Not Saucing It Up
It is hard to get a perfectly cooked piece of chicken. Luckily, there are ways around less than stellar cooks. This is called sauce. There are a ton to choose from and this is just another excellent way to disguise some of that dryness, Regardless, it’s a great way to add some overall flavor to your end result.
Chicken is not only economical, but it’s one of the most versatile meats you’ll find available today. Cooking it to perfection can be difficult, but with the above tips and information, you’ll have a much better chance. Just remember it’s both practice and experience that make the biggest differences, so if your chicken doesn’t come out right the first time, don’t get down on yourself. Think of it as an experience. As long as you learn something during, before, or after the cook.