Chef-In-Residence

Kitchen Cheats: 7 Ways To Get The Best Chicken Ever

by Edwan S. Photography FriedChillies on Wed, September 24, 2014

Let's put some thought into cooking the most popular bird and meat in the world: chicken! Yes it is cheap and easy, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be prepared without care right? Check out our tips and start making the best chicken recipes ever!

Cock-a-doodle-deeliciouss!

The most popular bird in the world is the chicken. Of course! It’s cheap and easily available and there’s a million-to-one ways of preparing it. That said, cooking it can be challenging if you don’t know some basics. So here’s how to cook the best chicken in your lives. Cock-a-doodle-delicious!

Get To Know Your Bird
There’s a surprising variety of chicken you can find on the market. The plump meaty ones are broilers suitable for general cooking. Ayam kampung and ‘ayam pencen’ (or old chicken) are tougher and gamier, and is best for long slow cooking like stews and rendangs. Smaller birds are great for roasting and serving whole. Find out what chicken best suits the recipe you have in mind.


"I have a bad feeling about this..." (pic source: Chicken101)

When There is Light, There is Dark
Chicken meat can be divided into white and dark meat. The white meat comes from the breast while the dark meat are the chicken legs and wings. So what, you might ask? Well, these two types of meat actually cook at different times so it pays to know beforehand white kind of cooking you’re doing. As a general rule, white meat is leaner and cooks faster so it’s good for stir-fries, sauteeing or pan frying. Dark meat is fattier and cooks slower, so it’s best for stews, curries, rendangs. That said, chicken is still a pretty quick cooking meat!


Turning and turning...

Being Equally Sized Is Good
But since most times you’re using the whole chicken anyway, then you can ensure even cooking by cutting the chicken into roughly equally sized pieces (this trick also works with… well, all foods). That’s why butchers can cut a chicken up into halves, quarters, eights and even sixteen pieces. It’s not just for kicks, the size of the cut plays an important factor when it comes to cooking. Halves and quarters are good for roasting, eights and sixteenths great for soups, stews, frying and braising!

Plump ‘Em Up
Chicken is quite easy to overcook and dry out because of it's relatively small size and also meat structure. One of the ways to solve this is to use brining: immerse the chicken pieces in a salt solution of roughly 2 tablespoons of salt to 1 litre of water. Don’t worry, this won’t make your chicken salty. What it does is that the chicken will absorb moisture so it stays plump, juicy and is less likely to dry out when cooking. It’s a great way to ensure juiciness especially in breast meat in deep frying or roasting recipes.


This one ain't flying anymore

Give It Wings, Not Strings
‘Trussing’ is when you tie up a chicken so it cooks evenly and keeps a good shape. But an even better idea is to butterfly or spatch-cock the chicken. We’ve shown you how. Basically you’re cutting out the backbone and laying it flat. The benefit is that the breast meat and leg meat reaches optimum doneness and juiciness at around the same time, more so than with normal trussing. Result is better tasting and moister chicken meat for you to enjoy!

Dry Them Up Too
One of the best things about roasting and frying chicken is biting into that kick-ass combo of crispy, well browned skin with juicy, moist meat within. Now to get that crispy, well browned skin it is important that the chicken is patted dry with kitchen towels or tissues before cooking. Excess moisture causes the skin to steam, turning it flabby and also stops it from browning. So dry your chicken before clucking, er, I mean, chucking it into the oven or fryer!


Biting into a well fried chicken is one of life's biggest perks!

Experiment!
Chicken is a great ingredient for home-cooks to experiment with. This is because the mild, easily acceptable flavour of the meat is pretty much a blank canvas for any recipe. Seriously, you can play around with a whole lotta flavours when it comes to cooking chicken. They take on spiciness, sweetness, savouriness etcetera with aplomb. Almost any recipe in the world can be adapted to use chicken, so go ahead: squeeze those creative juices out and step away from the usual world of fried and roasted chicken. Have some fun with your bird!

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