chicken and more chicken

Posted on October 14, 2011

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Chicken is a great source of animal protein. It can be quick cooking, versatile, and tasty. Only problem is that I really don’t like dealing with raw chicken. I mean, who does?

This is why I buy a large pack of chicken when it’s on sale and freeze it for later. That way I don’t have to deal with raw chicken every time I want it or go to the store as often. It’s a time saver, and more importantly, it limits the icky factor in my kitchen…

When I get home from the grocery store, I like to get the dreaded raw meat fiasco over with, so I cut off any visible fat and throw it away (I like to use kitchen scissors because they make it so much easier). I don’t bother to rinse my chicken (see below). Then I wrap raw, portioned chicken pieces in parchment or freezer paper, put them in bags, and label the bag with the date and how much is in each bag. Some bags I make just 4 ounces (a typical serving size for chicken), others have more. Then I freeze them, or I use the chicken that night for dinner. And then I can rest knowing that I don’t have to do much handling of raw chicken for the next month or two {{sigh of relief}}. All I have to do when I want some chicken is take it out of the freezer, stick it in the refrigerator on a plate or in a bowl, and once it’s thawed I just take it out, season or marinate it, and cook it. Done. Winner winner chicken dinner! (I’m sorry, but there was no way you thought I was getting through this post about chicken without saying that…)

I’m extremely meticulous with raw meats in my kitchen. I am obsessed with making sure nothing is touched by meat/poultry, its juices, the container it comes in, the utensils I use, etc. I wash my hands about 1 million times. I know most people aren’t this intense, but the thought of raw chicken (or meat) juice in my kitchen really bothers me. On that note, today I am giving you some exciting tips/reminders for storing, thawing, handling, & cooking poultry. Enjoy 🙂

*Don’t forget to wash your hands and anything & everything the raw chicken (or whatever meat you have) touches!!

Storing:

  • Refrigerate raw poultry for 1-2 days and cooked for 3 to 4 days.
  • Raw, boneless, skinless chicken can marinate in the refrigerator overnight; raw chicken pieces with skin and bone can marinate up to 24 hours.
  • Freeze uncooked chicken for up to 9 months, cooked chicken up to 4 months.

Thawing:

Thaw frozen poultry in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave.

  • Allow about 5 hours per pound to thaw in the refrigerator. ← this is my favorite method
  • For the cold-water method, submerge the poultry still in its wrapping, in a sink or bowl of cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes until it’s thawed.
  • You can microwave your poultry if you want, but I definitely don’t recommend it because it can partially cook the chicken.

Handling:

  • Make sure you wash your hands with warm soapy water before and after handling raw poultry. Wash them for at least 20 seconds (sing “Happy Birthday” twice).
  • For cutting boards, utensils, and other items that come into contact with the raw poultry, use hot water and soap for washing.
  • It is not recommended that you wash the poultry before cooking because it does not remove harmful bacteria that can only be killed by cooking. Also, washing chicken can cause poultry that may contain harmful bacteria to spread to surrounding areas, potentially causing cross-contamination (hello, food poisoning).

Cooking:

  • Make sure to cook your poultry to 165 degrees.
  • Using a knife, check the poultry flesh to make sure it is opaque and the juices run clear. This is not best method for checking doneness; use a thermometer for the best results.

References: www.fsis.usda.gov and http://foodsafety.gov/

And now you know…

You can thank me later.

Anyway, here is a recipe that you can use your newly acquired cross-contamination avoiding skills:

Chicken & Vegetable Sauce with Rice

Serves 4

  • 2 TBSP flour
  • ½ tsp salt-free all-purpose seasoning, divided (like The Delicious Dietitian Italian-Mediterranean Spice Blend)
  • 1 lb chicken breast
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can no-salt added diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, quartered
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 TBSP fresh oregano, chopped or 1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 2 cups hot cooked brown rice

Mix flour and ¼ tsp salt-free all-purpose seasoning together in a shallow dish. Dip chicken in the flour to coat.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat and cook onions for 5 minutes. Stir in garlic. Move onion mixture to the sides of the skillet. Add chicken. Cook 4 minutes and flip to cook other side. Add tomatoes with juices, artichokes, salt, remaining ¼ tsp seasoning, pepper, and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken. Simmer tomato mixture, uncovered for 5 minutes. Stir in oregano. Add chicken back into skillet.

Serve chicken and vegetable sauce over cooked brown rice (or whole wheat couscous).

  • This is an easy weeknight meal because it has ingredients that are common pantry items – onions, garlic, canned foods. Keeping canned goods like canned tomatoes and artichoke hearts make it easy to throw a meal together without having to go to the grocery store. Just make sure you keep some chicken in the freezer…

Dont’ be jealous, but I’m off to enjoy the city of New Orleans for the afternoon on this beautiful, fall day! 🙂

Happy Friday! Have a great weekend!

Meme

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