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If you're used to nuggets and wings from a bag in the freezer as chicken, you may wonder what you're supposed to do with that raw bald pink bird in the fridge. For instance, which end is up? How long does it take to cook? How badly can I screw this up? Here's the quick and dirty.
Chicken is pretty easy to make, and good to know, since you can do it so many different ways - more on that in other posts. But here's the secret: cooked chicken tastes good because it has chicken fat. That's the whole thing right there. I know, it's fat. Now, you CAN make a chicken dish without the fat. You can make love without sex. Hopefully neither of these ideas becomes popular at your house. They both lead to a frustrating, not entirely satisfying experience.
The chicken hides most of its fat in two places – in its skin, and in and around the dark meat. This makes skinless chicken breasts the 'let's just cuddle tonight' of chicken cooking. It is one way you can show your wife you really care about her as a person, and are interested in what she wants, too. If you are going that way, you'll want those breasts to be well and completely covered to avoid getting carried away and overheating. Concentrate on what's ON the breasts. Do this well, maybe she will feel like suggesting a little dessert.
But for most occasions, you'll be handling either whole chicken or cut pieces you pick up from the store. If you use cut pieces, everybody can get something they like. You can also buy and use frozen chicken straight out of the freezer, but defrost is tricky and extra work, so just go fresh. Your best chicken value is the whole bird, anyway.
Now, if you try cooking a whole chicken, be prepared for a few surprises. You may recall what a big production having a roast chicken has been. It may be that special dinner your mom or missus makes up with, or holds out for your special Sunday dinner. The first thing you'll notice, you'll be really surprised how easy it is to do. And how much it impresses everyone that you managed to pull it off. Nobody will believe you actually did it without help. Or that you had the guts to try.
Plus, you get lots of tasty meat you can use for quick meals other nights.
Here's some basic tips for cooking chicken. First, about the only way to ruin chicken is to dry it out, which you can avoid by not wildly overcooking, and by cooking chicken with skin on. That doesn't mean you can't take it off later and serve it naked. Leaving the skin on means the fat melts onto the meat, the bird doesn't dry out as fast, stays tender and gets tasty.
Next, since chicken is a great ingredient to have around for making easy and simple meals, when you cook it, make enough for more than one meal. That'll save you time, and money too.
Chicken meat is like paint primer, you can cover it with just about anything. Crispy, crunchy, sweet, spicy, savory, cheesey, and mixes from around the world. You can eat it hot and cold. Cut cubes of chicken will fry fast if you're in a hurry, or you can throw the bird in the oven if you want to show off. Just remember what makes it taste so good.
I'll be putting up detailed cooking info and other what to do information on the site, so check there to get the lowdown on how to cook.
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