Tips for Cooking Chicken
Are you constantly eating dry, dull-tasting chicken? Chicken is a staple in many healthy diets and for good reason. Incredibly versatile, chicken is packed with protein, it's inexpensive, and it easily takes on flavor and cooks relatively quickly. Stick to the six tips below for flavorful and perfectly cooked chicken every time!
1. BRING YOUR MEAT TO ROOM TEMPERATURE We are all aware of the safety warnings when it comes to raw meat. It’s easy to think chicken should stay in the fridge until the last possible moment, but when you drop a super cold chicken breast in a pan, it’s likely going to end up dry and cooked unevenly (since the outside cooks faster than the inside). Take your meat out of the fridge 20–30 minutes before you plan to cook it so it has time to come to room temperature.
2. PAT IT DRY Using a paper towel quickly pat your chicken prior to seasoning or marinating it is a great idea. Why? That’s because excess moisture can create steam when cooking, which can dry out the meat.
3. MARINATE A simple marinade can impart flavor inside and out; it’ll also help the meat retain moisture while it cooks.
4. COOK IT EVENLY Most chicken breasts will be really thick in the middle and thinner on the sides which can lead to uneven cooking — your sides and one end will end up overcooked even if you have a perfect center. Prevent uneven cooking by placing the chicken breasts between sheets of parchment paper or in a plastic bag and pound them with a mallet or rolling pin until they’re even throughout.
5. KNOW WHEN IT'S FULLY COOKED Even if you are not a novice in the kitchen, you’re still better off using a meat thermometer to tell when the chicken is done. Your chicken should hit 165ºF (74ºC) — no more, no less — when inserted in the thickest part of the meat. Remember, the chicken will rise in temperature slightly in the first minute off the heat, so pulling it off between 160–164ºF (71–73ºC) is OK.
6. LET IT REST Treat chicken like steak and let it rest. Allow it to sit at least five minutes after taking it off the heat to let the juices redistribute throughout the meat. Enjoy!