Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How To: Cook Chicken

A lot of people out there aren't going to need to read this post. If you are one of the people in this world who already has a killer chicken cooking method, please just look through the archives for some other deliciousness or come back tomorrow because I do have a yummy recipe for you then.

Cooking chicken is really a simple thing. However, I have known a lot of people {including myself} who get a little scared with cooking chicken. It is one of those things that you definitely want to be cooked through and in an effort to be sure it's entirely done, it often becomes dry and over-cooked. So I'll share here three methods for cooking chicken that always work for me. Please note that these chicken cooking methods are meant for when you need precooked chicken for a recipe {like the one I'll share tomorrow}. 

The Skillet Method {my personal favorite}:
This is my favorite method because it's fast, it works for me every single time, and it makes the most delicious, moist chicken. Yum! I love it. 
Choose as many chicken breasts {or thighs} as you'll need and that will fit in the skillet you will use. If you use frozen chicken, be sure it is thawed before beginning this method.

You'll need:
1 Tbsp oil
1 garlic clove for every chicken breast you are cooking, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Lid to fit said skillet

Pour your oil into the pan and let it get hot {have your temperature set to about medium-low}. If you're not sure the oil is hot, add a small bit of garlic. If it begins to sizzle, the oil is hot. If it just sits there, it needs to be heated a little more. Add the garlic and allow it to sizzle and cook for a few moments - just be careful not to let it burn. Add the chicken and cook it for exactly two minutes. Turn the chicken over and cook the other side for exactly two minutes. {I'm not lying here, people - this works! Exactly two minutes.} At this point, add the salt and pepper to your preference. Now put a lid on that chicken, turn on a timer for  6-8 minutes {the length of time will vary depending on the thickness of your chicken. A thicker breast usually takes closer to 8 minutes. I've also had rather thin fillets finish cooking in 5 minutes, though it has to be pretty thin.} and allow it to cook - no peeking until your timer goes off! When the timer goes off, you can check your chicken to see if it needs more time {I usually just slice open the thickest part of the meat - I'll just be cutting or shredding it anyway so I don't mind if it has a slice through it}. If the juices run clear - as in, they aren't pink at all - your chicken is done. If there is still a little pinkness to the meat or juice, cook it for another minute or two. Voila! Quick, delicious chicken.

Crock Pot Method:
What you'll need:
Chicken broth or stock
Seasonings to fit your preference

Place the chicken into your crock pot. Pour chicken broth over the top. It doesn't have to be completely covered in broth but it will need to cover a fair amount of it. Season according to your preference. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until the chicken is cooked through.

Boiling Method:
I like this method when I need something a little faster than the crock pot method and I still want to cook a lot of chicken {usually with less effort than the skillet method}. 
What you'll need:
Chicken Bouillon
Seasonings to fit your preference

Place the chicken in a large stock pot. Add water until the chicken is covered. Add chicken bouillon according to the measurements on the package. {You could also just use chicken broth or stock or plain water. I like the flavor from the broth or bouillon better than just water.} Add the seasonings according to your preference. Heat the water to medium-high and boil slowly for about 30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Note: my brother-in-law uses the boiling method when he wants to have barbeque grilled chicken. He gets the chicken cooked up by boiling it and then marinates it in barbeque sauce in the refrigerator, often overnight. Then he puts it on the grill and lets it heat up and get some of the grilled flavor. It's so much faster than barbequing raw chicken and you don't have to worry about whether or not it's cooked. And it still tastes really good!

For each of these methods, you can easily cook the chicken up, shred it and place it in the freezer for quick meals.

I hope these methods are helpful for someone. Please let me know if you have any questions.

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