Tender, juicy and flavourful - this is exactly how we like our chicken. Indian kitchens have been predominantly ruled by vegetarian dishes and even a novice cook can ace cooking a dal or sabzi with a lot of guidance and tips from older and experienced family members. But when it comes to cooking chicken, many of us are left helpless and cannot get it right. All of our efforts go down the drain when we get, dry, rubbery, paltry, undercooked or overcooked chicken. It is a real disappointment! If you are looking to upping your chicken cooking game, you've come to the right place.
Here's a reality check for all those of you who tried and tried but couldn't get their chicken right. Here are some common mistakes that most of us make while cooking chicken and it's time to fix it all.
9 Common Mistakes To Avoid While Cooking Chicken
1.Buying Pre-Frozen Meat
Moist chicken turns out to be juicy when cooked. Frozen raw chicken often loses its water content and gives us a dry dish that nobody likes. United States Department Of Agriculture (USDA) recommends looking for chicken labelled 'fresh' and not 'frozen or previously frozen'.
(Also Read: 5 Common Mistakes That Can Ruin Our Indian Curries)
2. Ignoring Bone-In Chicken
For the unversed, chicken bone-in chicken pieces like thighs have high-fat content that melts while cooking to lock in the moisture in the chicken while also giving it more flavour. So, don't discard it and try to go for bone-in rather than boneless chicken pieces.
3. Washing The Chicken
Washing the chicken before use seems like a practical hygiene practice. USDA, however, posits a different opinion. A USDA report states, "Washing raw poultry before cooking is not recommended because bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can be spread to other foods, utensils, and surfaces. This is called cross-contamination. The results of a recent USDA observational study showed how easy bacteria can be spread when surfaces are not effectively cleaned and sanitized after washing poultry. Rinsing or soaking chicken does not destroy bacteria. Only cooking will destroy any bacteria that might be present on fresh chicken."
4. Not Brining Or Marinating
In a hurry, we often let go of the important step of brining or marinating the chicken. Brining is the process of soaking chicken in salt water and a dash of sugar before cooking. This helps prevention of overcooking and retains the moisture too. And if you want the chicken to be deeply flavoured, marinate ahead with some spices, curd, lemon juice or other ingredients as per your recipe.
5. Not Pounding The Meat
If you are about to cook whole chicken breast you would first notice how thick it is. Cooking it as is can lead to overcooking of the outer layer or undercooking on the inside. It's important to pound the chicken piece evenly with the help of a meat hammer/mallet to tenderise the chicken and to ensure uniform cooking.
(Also Read: Cooking Mistakes That Are Making Your Food Unhealthy)
6. Lobbing Off The Skin
Everyone likes a glazed caramelised sear on the cooked chicken. To get that, try to keep the skin of the chicken on. Also, the skin will help retain the moisture of the meat, making the chicken crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
7. Thawing It The Wrong Way
Do you let your frozen chicken out on the shelf to thaw it in room temperature? Stop that now! USDA asserts that only three methods should be applied to thaw the chicken - soaking it in cold water, microwaving it or refrigerating it a night, or a day before cooking. Keeping the chicken out in room temperature may make it a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.
8. Uneven Chicken Pieces
Make sure to cut your chicken into even pieces so that they all cook at the same time and you know when to take off the pan from the stove.
(Also Read: 8 Genius Tricks To Reduce Extra Salt In Curries)
9. Not Covering The Pan
Put a lid on the pan when your chicken is cooking. The steam will be locked in and will render moisture to the meat so that it doesn't dry out because of the heat.
If you love eating chicken, you should know how to make it perfect. We hope you'll stop making the above-listed mistakes and enjoy a delicious meaty meal, every time.