Questions about Cooking Chicken


Chicken is a nutritious lean meat and a tasty addition to any meal.
Chicken is a nutritious lean meat and a tasty addition to any meal.
©2007 Michael Glasgow

Chicken has become an economical, versatile, readily available main dish for most American families.

When Herbert Hoover coined his campaign slogan, "a chicken in every pot," he was promising average people something special. Back then, chicken was not a common purchase at the grocery store. It was a treat only enjoyed by farm families and the wealthy.

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Chicken is high in protein yet low in fat and cholesterol, with a delicious flavor that makes it a popular choice for healthy, hearty eating. Check out these common chicken questions and tips to get you started:

Poultry Facts

Knowing the differences between types of chicken can help you make the right selection for your menu. Find a basic guide to help you with your choices.

How to Use a Bag of Chicken Breasts

A bag of frozen chicken breasts can't be beat for convenience and preparation. Learn tips and ideas to help with meal planning.

What are Jerk Seasoning and Chicken Tenders?

Ever wondered what spices go into jerk seasoning, or what part of the chicken the "tender" is? Find the answers here.

See the next page for some basic poultry facts to get you started.

For more information and ideas for cooking chicken, see:

Poultry Facts

At about 16 weeks of age, a chicken is considered to be perfect for rotisserie cooking.
At about 16 weeks of age, a chicken is considered to be perfect for rotisserie cooking.
©2007 Nadia Jasmine

Q. What are different types of chicken, and how are they classified?

A. Chickens are classified by age and weight. Young chickens are tender and cook quickly; older chickens need slow, moist cooking to make them tender.

Cooking times will vary depending on the method you use and also the part and size of the chicken you're cooking. Take a look at these weights and cooking methods for great poultry cooking:

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  • Broiler-fryers: Young chickens (7 to 10 weeks old) weighing from 1-1/2 to 3-1/2 pounds. Best broiled, fried, or roasted.
  • Roasters: Slightly older chickens (16 weeks old) weighing from 4 to 6 pounds. Perfect for roasting and rotisserie cooking.
  • Capons: Young, castrated roosters weighing from 5 to 7 pounds. These richly flavored birds are meatier and have a higher fat content than roasters.
  • Stewing hens: Adult chickens (1 to 1-1/2 years old) weighing from 4-1/2to 7 pounds. Though their meat is tougher and stringier, it is highly flavorful, so they are excellent for soups, stock, or stews.
  • Chicken parts: Cut-up chickens -- usually broiler-fryers -- are available to suit almost any recipe. Choose halves or quarters, or pick just the parts you want, from breasts, thighs, wings, and drumsticks to legs (thighs with drumsticks attached).
  • Boneless, skinless pieces: These easy options -- a favorite choice for many cooks today -- offer convenience and quicker cooking times. Boneless, skinless breasts and thighs are readily available. Other selections include cutlets (sometimes called supremes) and tenders.

Q. How do I know how much chicken to buy?

A. To make sure you buy enough chicken to meet your family's needs, follow this guide:

  • One cut up broiler-fryer (2 to 3 pounds) yields 3 to 5 servings.
  • One whole roaster (3 to 6 pounds) serves 4 to 8 people.
  • One whole chicken breast or two breast halves (about 12 ounces) yields 2 servings.
  • One pound of thighs or drumsticks serves 2 people.

Have a bag of chicken breasts that's been lurking in your freezer? See the next page for tips on how to use it.

For more information and ideas for cooking chicken, see:

How to Use a Bag of Chicken Breasts

One idea for using chicken breasts is to cook some ahead of time, shred the cooked meat, then use in salads later on.
One idea for using chicken breasts is to cook some ahead of time, shred the cooked meat, then use in salads later on.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Q. What are some ideas for using a bag of frozen chicken breasts?

A. Had an exhausting day? That old, reliable bag of chicken breasts in your freezer is waiting for you. Even frozen, they cook up fast, and their flavor blends nicely with practically any ingredient. They're the perfect choice for a "doable dinner."

In an average bag, you'll find both regular-sized chicken breasts and some as big as 12 ounces each. The following tips will help you realize how effortless cooking a hot meal can actually be -- thawed or frozen, big or little -- while serving up tons of comfort at the same time.

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  • Cook larger breasts whole. That way you don't have to wait for them to fully defrost before cutting them. After they're cooked, cut into smaller serving sizes, shred, or chop into bite-size pieces when cooked to be used later.
  • Dry chicken before browning. To brown thawed chicken breasts, use paper towels to dry them well first. Otherwise, the breasts will "stew" in their own moisture and not get brown.
  • Don't overcook. Cook until the chicken is faintly pink in the center, remove it from the heat and let stand a few minutes. This is called residual cooking or "carry-over" cooking, which means the food continues to cook on its own from the actual heat of the chicken.
  • Cut the underside, not the top. To check for doneness, make a small cut in thickest part on the underside (the side that will touch the plate). That way no one will see where you cut into the piece.

Ever see a recipe call for jerk seasoning but wasn't sure exactly what it was? Continue to the next page to find out.

For more information and ideas for cooking chicken, see:

What are Jerk Seasoning and Chicken Tenders?

After chicken is coated in jerk seasoning, it is slowly grilled to lock in flavor.
After chicken is coated in jerk seasoning, it is slowly grilled to lock in flavor.
©2007 JupiterImagesUnlimited

Q. What is jerk seasoning?

A. Jerk seasoning, which originated in Jamaica, is a blend of dried herbs and spices rubbed on meat and poultry prior to grilling or added to liquid marinades.

The blend often contains onions, garlic, thyme, chilies, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. If you can't find a brand that is sugar and sodium free, make your own blend.

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Q. What are chicken tenders?

A. Chicken tenders or supremes are the lean tender strips that are found on the underside of the chicken breast.

Since they are skinless, boneless and have virtually no waste, tenders are a great time saver in the kitchen. Skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut into strips can be substituted.

For more information and ideas for cooking chicken, see: