Whether you are new to the world of cooking or just new to using chicken as an ingredient, there are several very important things that you should know before using chicken in recipes.
Choosing and Buying Chicken
You should choose chicken, which is within its expiration date and cold to the touch. You should not buy fresh chicken, which is damaged or leaking.
Chicken is chilled in food storage vehicles during its distribution to supermarkets to keep it fresh and stop bacteria from growing. Make cold meat and poultry the last thing you put in your grocery cart when you are shopping before heading to the checkout, so it does not get warm. Bag the chicken separately from the other groceries and refrigerate it as soon as you get home, still in its packaging.
Chilling, Freezing and Thawing Chicken
When you get home, you can refrigerate the chicken for up to two days or freeze it. To thaw chicken, you can either do it in the refrigerator, in the microwave or in cold water. Thawing it slowly in the refrigerator is the safest way. Boneless chicken breasts defrost overnight but a whole chicken might take a day or two. If you do not use all the thawed chicken, it is safe to refreeze it.
If you want your chicken defrosted quicker, you can do it in water. Place the chicken in a Ziploc bag if it is not in sealed packaging and submerge it in cold water. You will need to change the water every half an hour to keep it cold. A whole chicken should be thawed in two or three hours and a pound of chicken breasts will be done in an hour.
If you are going to thaw chicken in the microwave, you will need to cook it immediately afterwards because some parts might warm up and start cooking while it is being defrosted and partial cooking does not kill the bacteria.
You can cook chicken from frozen in the oven or on the stove, as long as you allow it a 50% longer cooking time but do not cook frozen chicken in the microwave or in a slow cooker.
You can marinate chicken in the refrigerator for a couple of days if you like but if you want to stuff a chicken, it will need to be cooked immediately. Cooked chicken has to reach an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F to ensure any bacteria are killed.
If you have leftovers after making your recipe for Kentucky fried chicken chicken, you should refrigerate them within two hours.
How Long Does Chicken Keep?
You can store raw chicken parts in the refrigerator for two days or nine months in the freezer. A whole raw chicken is good for two days in the refrigerator or twelve months in the freezer. A cooked whole chicken or cooked chicken parts are fine for up to four days in the refrigerator or you can freeze them for up to four months.
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