We all love chicken, and for a good reason. It’s tasty, filling, and can be used in a wide range of recipes. Chicken is so flexible; you can eat it as a regular meal for the weekdays, a weekend snack, or a holiday menu. And the different ways to cook chicken are mind-boggling; fried, crispy, roasted, grilled, baked, etc.
Because of our love for chicken, we need to be sure about knowing when it’s done. Eating chicken is exciting but eating undercooked chicken is equally dangerous. If the meat isn’t properly cooked, you may end up consuming microbes that come with the blood, fluids, and tissues. And such can cause severe illnesses like food poisoning.
So, how do you check if the chicken is cooked correctly? Well, keep reading to find out.
Checking for Doneness in Chicken
You can check if your chicken is appropriately done in various ways. Each method depends on your resources, observation skills, and patience. And because you want the best experience from eating this highly-sought-after white meat, you want to pay close attention to these suggestions;
Using the Meat Thermometer
A meat thermometer is the most secure way to know if your chicken is cooked correctly. It’s also easy to use, and you can buy it at any grocery store around you. The meat thermometer features a metal probe and an indicator. The screen may be digital or analog, and both are accurate, provided you calibrate it properly before use.
To calibrate your meat thermometer, fill a jar with ice and cold tap water, mixing till the ice is evenly distributed. Poke the probe into the water and wait until the reading stands at one number. Then, adjust the reading to 32°F (0°C).
To use your meat thermometer, poke it deep into the thickest part of the chicken and wait. If it’s a boned area, like the thigh, be sure not to let the probe touch the bone. You want your chicken to read 165°F to be considered well done. Any lower means it’s undercooked and any higher means it’s overcooked.
Using the Juice
In case you don’t have a meat thermometer, check for doneness by examining the chicken juice. Fresh chicken has a pinkish color, and this changes when the meat is cooked. You can observe the fluid in the baking pan, or you can force it out yourself. Stick a fork through the thick parts of the chicken and gently press the sides of the hole to push the juice out. When it’s clear or white, it means the chicken is done.
Checking the Firmness
Fresh chicken tends to feel wobbly, and when cooked, this turns tight and firm. And you can use this texture to know if your chicken is ready. Once the cooking time has been reached, touch the chicken in its thickest areas to feel a firm surface. When you press, the meat should spring back. To get an idea of what you should look for, keep your hand limp and press your thumb to your middle finger.
Using the Chicken Size
Fresh chicken carries a lot of moisture in its tissues, so it looks swollen. And this moisture is lost when it’s cooked, causing the meat to contract. A well-cooked chicken will be significantly smaller in size compared to when you first set it on the stove. If it’s still almost the same size, then it’s not ready.
Checking the Meat Color
When you cut open raw chicken, you’ll notice the meat to be pinkish. But cooked chicken has a white color, which explains where the name ‘white meat’ is gotten. Once the chicken has been cooked till the required time, you can cut open the thickest part and examine the meat. You want a white color with no pinkish hue whatsoever. To check in whole chicken, cut it at the breast or thigh regions.