Sweet mother of Jemimah! Is there anything more amazing than chicken? I could eat chicken everyday. Not only is it cheaper than red meat, it’s also very versatile. Chicken can be poached, stuffed, grilled, curried, stewed, pulled, fried and with so many different flavour combinations.
As someone who’s passionate about food, a lot of people tend to think I have all the answers that are food related. I don’t, but when it comes to chicken, I do. I get asked “Why is my full chicken always bland?” or “Why is my chicken always dry?” Well, I’m here to help.
I’ll talk about the important things to take into consideration when cooking the problematic parts, which is usually chicken breasts and full chickens.
Let’s talk about chicken baby…
- SEASONING…PLEASE! – How much seasoning you ask? All the seasoning please. I kid, season your chicken generously. When seasoning a full chicken, please don’t neglect the cavity of the chicken, its very important. As the chicken is cooking, the inside steams and the seasoning in the cavity perfumes the chicken. Also season under the skin of the chicken, reach in there and rub that seasoning all over that breast. This leads me to my next point.
- SKIN & BONES – Before you tell me about how unhealthy chicken skin is, you don’t have to eat it, you can just peel it off and pass it on to me. Chicken skin keeps it moist and if you want flavour, keep it on the bone. If you’re cooking chicken breasts, especially and you choose to cook them whole with the skin and bone off, please don’t complain about a bland and dry breast – that’s your fault.
- STUFFING – If you’re making a whole chicken roast, I’d strongly recommend stuffing it. Stuffing chicken not only helps season it , but retains moisture by locking it in. You can stuff it with vegetables and herbs but the basis of a good stuffing starts with bread. Cook your stuffing separately before putting it into the cavity of the chicken that’s also been seasoned.
- AROMATICS – If you don’t have the time to marinade your chicken well in advance, I’d recommend going for flavours that are aromatic so they can perfume the chicken as it cooks, this helps add flavour to the chicken. Things like garlic, ginger, rosemary and citrus are all great for perfuming chicken.
- BRINING – Brining is the process of soaking or preserving something in salty water. Chicken absorbs water and salt when left to brine which results in less moisture loss when cooking thus reducing the chances of dry meat. If you have the time I’d definitely recommend brining your chicken roast the night before. An easy brining ratio to remember is 1 tablespoon of salt for every cup of water. You need enough water to cover the entire chicken and to this solution you can add spices and herbs to give the water a flavour base (although I’d recommend seasoning the chicken further before or during cooking after its been removed from the brine because a great amount of the flavour doesn’t get absorbed during brining)
- COOK TIME – How long should I cook my chicken for? When you’ve been cooking for a long time you learn to be intuitive about cooking. You can feel the meat to gauge if its been cooked, if you aren’t there yet there is a basic cooking time tip to remember;
- Whole Chicken – 60 Minutes for every 1kg which works out to 6minutes per 100 grams. So if your chicken is 1.2kg you’d cook it for 72minutes (60 + 12 minutes for the additional 200grams) and if it were 800grams you’d cook it for 48 minutes (6 minutes by 8) – It’s important to note that every oven is different so these times may vary.
- Chicken Portions– Chicken fillets cook in 15 to 20 minutes, drumsticks and thighs 30-35 minutes. Wings take 12-15 minutes.
I hope you found these hints and tips helpful. Chicken is life and we must do right by it.