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How to Cook Poultry

By: Cara Frost-Sharratt - Updated: 17 Dec 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
How To Cook Poultry

Chicken and turkey are pretty economical compared to a lot of other types of meat so as a student, you'll probably be eating quite a lot of poultry during your time at college. Poultry is really versatile and there are thousands of quick and easy recipes that don't require too many expensive or unusual ingredients, so it's a great option for everyday meals.

Cooking Tips

Poultry is easy to cook, especially if you buy portions such as breast or leg. However, it's also easy to get it wrong and the consequences can be painful. Undercooked chicken can result in nasty bouts of food poisoning so it's very important that you always ensure your food is cooked through properly before you eat it. Here are a few tips for cooking poultry:
  • Always use a separate chopping board when preparing meat.
  • Wash your hands after handling raw meat.
  • Place chicken in the fridge as soon as you get it home. It's important that it's kept chilled.
  • Store raw poultry on the bottom shelf of the fridge. That way, if any juices escape they won't contaminate other food.
  • Thaw frozen chicken thoroughly before cooking it.
  • Don't be afraid to cook the chicken for a bit longer if you're not sure about cooking times. Unlike other meat, and some fish, chicken can't be served under- or lightly cooked.
  • To check if chicken is cooked through, pierce the thickest part with a knife. If the juices run out clear and the meat is piping hot the whole way through, then it's cooked. If you see any pink bits, cook it for longer - it's better to wait for dinner than get ill.

Techniques

Poultry can be cooked in many different ways and is used in all manner of recipes. The classic roast chicken or turkey is always a favourite and it's not as difficult as it might sound. Just rub a little oil over the chicken and cook in a preheated oven, according to the times on the packaging. The difficult bit is timing all the other ingredients. It's best to get everything chopped and prepared before you put the bird in the oven. That way, you can calculate timings and keep calm. If you're making roast potatoes, it's best to part-boil them first then place them around the chicken or turkey to finish cooking. Spoon the juices from the bird over the potatoes and try not to cram them together. If you don't have enough room on the oven tray, use a separate one for the potatoes.

Chicken portions can also be fried, grilled or oven-baked and again, it's best to follow the instructions on the pack and also to be aware of your specific oven settings. For example, if you have a fan oven, you'll need to adjust the cooking times accordingly.

Chicken breasts in particular are very versatile and, as chicken is low in fat and full of protein, it's a great option for hungry students. Try using it in curries, stir-fries and pasta sauces. You can also use leftover, cooked chicken for salads and sandwiches.

Poultry is such a great staple so it's a good idea to always keep a stock of it in your freezer. If you buy packs of chicken breasts, separate them, wrap them in cling film and then freeze. That way, it's easy to remove them one at a time, as and when you need them.

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