Safety Tips For Buying And Cooking Pre-Packaged Chicken
Chicken is one of the staple dinner meals. Some people love buying and prepared the bird as a whole and others will purchase pre-packaged parts such s the drumsticks, wings, or breast. To make the most of the chicken parts, you need to know which are best cooked by roasting, frying, or grilling.
You may find that the packaged are USDA labels that read free-range and some organic; you should be able to differentiate the two. To make the most of the bird you buy for your dinner, you need to know the safe poultry practices for when you are purchasing it from the grocery store and when you bring it home to make your meal.
• Picking The Cuts
It is the midsection of the chick and has a lot of white meat. It is often sold in three cuts. You can get it as skinless cutlets which are pounded thin for them to cook fast. You can opt for the halved split breasts that are skinless and with no bones or get them with the skin and bone. You also can go for the tenderloins, which are strips cut from the muscle portion. The split breast cuts are best prepared by grilling or broiling. Best broiled or sautéed while the cutlets are best pan-fried, sautéed or broiled.
It is the dark meat of the chicken and is mostly the most flavorful and juicy part. You can have it with or without the bone. Best prepared by grilling, broiling, braising or roasting.
It is mostly muscle with a substantial amount of fat. The drumstick is another dark meat on the chicken. You can buy it with the thigh attached or detached. Best prepared by grilling, roasting or braising.
It is the boniest cut of the bird with the white meat cover with a thick skin. Best cooked by grilling, broiling, or pan frying.
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• What Is In The Labels?
The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) gives specifications on labels found on the pre-packaged chicken parts. You ensure that you are buying the right cuts, you need to be familiar with what is on the labels.
Natural: It means there are no added artificial ingredients during processing. However, the bird may have been reared on GMO feeds and given antibiotics when sick.
Organic: It implies that the chicken was raised a cage-free setting and fed organically grown grains that are free of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. That means no artificial ingredients was used in the rearing and packaging processes.
Free-range: It means the bird was reared in an open space where it is free to roam and search for different grains. Such claims are, however, not required to be verified. You, nonetheless, can check for ‘certified humane’ that implies the bird was in conditions that met the federally approved standards.
Kosher: It implies the chicken was raised in a natural setting, and hormones and antibiotics may or may not have been used during rearing. The bird did not experience any pain during slaughter, and all this was done under rabbinical supervision as per the Jewish dietary laws. Kosher chicken is hand-salted during processing.
• The Lowdown On Chicken Safety
Poultry meat can carry bacteria that can lead to sicknesses; that is why safe practices in the handling of chicken are crucial. Below are a few tips on the proper handling of poultry.
1. The director of the Center for Consumer Research, Christin M. Bruhn, who also is a food safety experts suggests that shoppers should place pre-packaged cuts underneath the shopping basket when picking them at the store to prevent them from contaminating other produce. He also recommends carrying a plastic bag or container to put in the cuts and place the bag away from any ready-to-eat products.
2. When placing the chicken in the freezer, it should be left in the packaging for no more than a week. Any longer and the freezing temperatures will burn it and make it lose its flavor. If you plan to freeze the meat from months, then place it in a sealed plastic container.
3. When defrosting the meat, leave it in the lower sections of the fridge for a day or so to let it thaw slowly. Leaving it in a warm setting of more than 40°F will increase the chances of bacteria growing.
4. When preparing the chicken, avoid washing it before cooking. Bruhn says you will risk spreading the bacteria all over the countertop, the skin, and your hands. You should place the poultry on the pan and cook it at a heat of 165°F to kill the salmonella or any other bacteria.
5. If you have a whole cooked chicken, you can refrigerate it for about three days; any leftover poultry parts refrigerated for two days.