Sunday, April 30, 2006

Chicken Basics

From Allrecipes

Chicken is a favorite and healthy eating choice for many people. As well as being highly versatile and delicious it also high in protein with the added bonus of being low in fat and calories. But like all fresh meats it is perishable and care needs to be taken in its handling and preparation. To help you stay on the path to a delectable and safe meal we recommend the following procedures for handling chicken.

Keep It Cold! Never leave raw or frozen chicken at room temperature. Raw chicken should be stored in the coldest part of your refrigerator and used within 2 days. Freeze any chicken that won't be used in 2 days. Frozen chicken can be stored in the freezer for up to one year without sacrificing quality. When thawing frozen chicken do so slowly, ideally in your refrigerator but if in a hurry a cold water bath will be fine. In the refrigerator it will take about 24 hours to thaw a whole roaster chicken and about 2 to 9 hours for cut-up chicken parts.
Keep It Clean! Always rinse chickens with cold water (inside and out) then pat dry with paper towels before preparing. To prevent cross contamination thoroughly clean all surfaces, utensils, plates, cutting boards, knives and hands with warm soapy water that have come in contact with raw chicken before they come in contact with any other raw or cooked foods.
Get It Done! Always cook chicken well done. The best way to tell if a chicken is cooked properly is to use a meat thermometer. The internal temperature of a whole chicken should reach 180 degrees F (82 degrees C), chicken breasts should be cooked to a temperature of 170 degrees F (77 degrees C), and ground chicken should reach 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). Another check for doneness is to pierce or make a slit in the thickest part of the meat to see if the juices run clear. If they're clear and not pink your chicken is done.
Marinate It! Always let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator, even if you only plan on letting it soak for 30 minutes. Do not baste the cooking chicken with marinade you've already used on the raw chicken: either make extra marinade and set aside a portion for basting only, or boil it for 2 to 3 minutes to kill any bacteria that might be present.
Store It! Cooked chicken should not be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours. A whole cooked chicken can be kept in the refrigerator for 3 days, cut-up cooked chicken can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days.

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