Whether you are planning to make crispy fingers, baked fillets, or roast an entire chicken, there is no denying the fact that chicken can make an exquisite meal for any occasion. From the lean breasts to the thighs that pack tons of flavor, from the wings that can be covered in a million different sauces to the drumsticks that are tender to the core, there are a ton of options to go with.
Cooking a chicken, the perfect way is an art that not many people can master. In order to make sure that your seasoning is beautifully proportioned, the juices penetrate the bird, and the piece is cooked to the right temperature, you need to be aware of certain tricks. Here are some of the essentials that you must know to turn that chicken into a flavorful meal to enjoy:
Chicken breasts are always the hardest to cook
The breasts of a chicken are commonly known as one of the driest parts of this otherwise amazing bird. No matter what you do, the breasts are bound to turn out dry, flavorless, and boring. However, there is a solution to this, but it requires you to have a little trust because it involves cooking in a covered pan without any interruptions.
You can try slow cooking with a wide variety of these crockpot chicken recipes because the process involves slowly putting flavor inside the chicken breast. However, if you don’t have a slow cooker, you can use a pan with a lid instead. Here are the steps that you can take for tender, juicy breasts every single time:
- Start by patting the chicken dry before you marinate it.
- Flatten the breasts by pounding on them with a large, strong object until they are an even thickness. You don’t necessarily need to flatten them; just get them to a uniform size.
- Season the breasts next. If you are choosing to marinate them, leave them overnight, or else the flavors don’t penetrate the breast evenly, leaving it extensively dry.
- Heat your pan without adding any butter or oil to it. Once the pan is quite hot, then you add the fat.
- Next, lay out the breasts onto the pan and cook them on each side for a minute straight. Ensure you don’t move the breast until sixty seconds have elapsed for either side.
- Now comes the best part. Lower the heat to low setting and cover the pan for 10 minutes, letting the breasts cook in their own juices. This is the phase where the trust comes in. You should not touch the pan, remove the lid, or even peek at the chicken for ten minutes. Set the heat to the lowest setting, cover the pan, and walk away. Do not turn back!
- After 10 minutes, turn the heat off and leave the breasts to rest for another 10 minutes. Once again, under no circumstances are you to remove the lid.
- Once these seemingly long 20 minutes have passed, uncover the pan and take the temperature. The breasts should be a tantalizing 165oF or thereabout. You know that your chicken is cooked.
This is the ideal checklist for getting the most juicy, succulent chicken breasts every single time. Once you do this, you will never cook chicken breasts any other way.
You don’t need to limit roasting to weekends only.
Much like cooking chicken breasts, roasting the entire bird feels like a cumbersome process for many people too. This is why they only tend to do it on the weekends. However, you don’t have to. The beauty of cooking chicken is that it is one of the easiest meats to cook since it doesn’t take very long to make tender and flavorful. Thus, you can make a whole roasted bird on weekdays too.
A normal-sized bird can take about an hour to roast if you know how to do it properly. All you need is the appropriate stuffing and an idea of how to rub the spices between the skin and the actual meat so that the flavors engulf the entire bird. Once you can get these steps right, your chicken will turn out stunning every single time without fail.
Thighs over breasts, every single time
Although you now have the secret to cooking succulent chicken breasts, there is always a chance of messing things up with them because of the “trust” factor. That is not the case with chicken thighs, though. These usually overlooked parts of the bird are the chef’s favorite because absolutely nothing can go wrong here.
Yes, thighs have a higher fat content, but that is what gives them that juicy richness when cooking. They are also more affordable because most people just put up the breast pieces and ignore thighs altogether. You need to stop making that mistake because the thighs dominate over breasts in every single department, all the time, every time.
If you haven’t already, try cooking chicken in milk
While air frying and baking are fine, milk is the best ingredient if you want to get the most flavorful richness out of your chicken. You can find hundreds of recipes online that use milk as a marinade or while cooking the chicken, and you can improvise to your heart’s content as well, but you need to use milk as an ingredient to fill the meat with the best flavors.
A basic blend of sage, milk, cinnamon, and lemons is the ideal one to start with. You can add any ingredients you love to the mix and tell us if we were wrong. It’s not just that Alfredo pasta sauce made from milk, but even the best crispy chicken marinades involve buttermilk. Once you get the hang of it, you will have no turning back.
As mentioned earlier, cooking succulent, juicy, and tender chicken in a hassle-free way is an art. If you want to keep it simple, go with thighs, but you can turn chicken breasts flavorful too. Remember that milk works best when adding flavor; temperature is the primary parameter for a perfectly cooked chicken. As long as the final temperature after you’ve let the meat rest for some time is 165oF, you can be sure that once you slice into it and put a piece in your mouth, you will have an experience unlike any other.