Everybody loves chicken! It is tasty, inexpensive, easy to cook and for the carb conscious it contains zero carbohydrates. It is also packed with protein, vitamins and minerals, making it a healthy addition to the household menu. Visit the supermarket and you will soon discover there are several cuts of chicken available. So what is the difference between breast, wing, thigh and leg and what is the best way to cook them? Our Foodie HQ guide has the answer.
Breast: the leanest part of the chicken (provided the skin is removed). In fact, chicken breast has less than half the fat content of a T-bone steak. Breast should be cooked quickly to avoid drying the meat. It is best pan fried or barbequed whole, or sliced for cooking in stir fries and curries.
Wing: full of flavour and good value for money. Chicken wings are a popular appetiser or snack and are usually marinated and baked or grilled. Popular marinades include satay or honey and soy. Chicken wings coated in a spicy cayenne pepper sauce and fried are known as buffalo wings.
Thigh fillets: flavoursome and tender with almost twice the fat content of breast. Fillets can be purchased with skin on or off. “Skin on” fillets are good for browning then using in casseroles and bakes. “Skin off” fillets are good for marinating and grilling or diced in curries. Thigh fillets cook fast and are popular in curries and Asian cuisines, as it remains moist.
Thigh pieces with the bone still in are called Thigh Cutlets and require a longer cooking time than fillets.
Drumstick: the leg of the chicken which is full of flavour. Drumsticks can be cooked quickly pan fried or barbequed. Or they can be cooked slowly, oven baked or casseroles. They are often marinated or coated with bread crumbs and fried.
How to cook chicken:
Chicken is a versatile meat and there are many different ways it can be cooked. Here are some of the more popular methods for cooking chicken:
Roast: baking your chicken whole in the oven is considered a healthy option. It is simple but time consuming. Chicken pieces can also be flavoured and roasted, reducing cooking times.
Poaching: another healthy cooking technique, poaching cooks your chicken slowly and gently in a large pot of seasoned liquid.
Stir-fry: a quick and easy way of cooking chicken. Use a wok or pan over very high heat and always keep your chicken moving to stop it sticking.
Pan frying: a fast, simple method for cooking chicken pieces on the stove. Pan fry your chicken in melted butter, being careful to keep the heat medium so the butter isn’t burnt when you add the meat. A TIP: is to use ½ butter and ½ oil to help stop the butter from burning.
Barbecue: a challenging yet flavoursome way of cooking. Grilling your chicken gives the meat a smoky flavour. Be careful not to overcook the meat as it will become tough.
Marinades and spice rubs work well with chicken on the bbq.
Tips and tricks:
• If possible, avoid freezing your chicken as it will lose moisture when defrosting which can make the meat tougher.
• Slice your chicken across the grain to keep it tender.
• When cooking, turn your chicken with tongs instead of a fork or you will pierce the skin and cause the juices to run out.
• Always tightly wrap chicken stored in the fridge to stop it drying out and help keep it tender.
• A meat thermometer is the best way to check if your roast chicken is done.
• Never prepare vegetables or other foods on a chopping board that has come into contact with raw chicken as it can harbor the harmful bacteria known as salmonella.
• Thoroughly clean chopping boards, knives and hands that have come into contact with raw chicken.
• Keep chicken well refrigerated at all times.
Our favourite simple chicken recipes:
As chicken is now one of the more affordable meats, it is good to have some very simple meal ideas to feed the family.
Honey Teriyaki Drumsticks
1.2 kg chicken drumsticks
½ cup Teriyaki marinade (I use Kikkoman brand)
½ cup honey
Warm honey and teriyaki marinade in microwave for approx 30 seconds to combine.
Place drumsticks in a single layer in an oven proof roasting dish. Pour over teriyaki/honey mixture and bake in the oven at 180*C for 45 – 60 mins, turning occasionally.
Serve with rice and salad or vegetables.
Easy Chicken Parmigana
4 chicken breast schnitzels
2 tbsp olive oil
1 x 300gm tin Edgell Tomato Supreme (usually found near tomato paste in supermarkets)
Heat oil in a frypan and cook schnitzels till brown
Place cooked schnitzels on an oven tray (lined with glad bake to save clean up). Spread tomato supreme over top and sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake in oven at 180*C till cheese is melted and starting to brown – approx 5 mins.
Nice served with salad and jacket potato with sour cream.