How long does it take to cook chicken? Does it always come out raw? Or dry and rubbery?
Cooking chicken has always been a little tricky. Different parts of the chicken would correspond to different cooking times. And it has only to be cooked through as no one should eat rare or even a medium-rare chicken.
There is a lot of temperatures to remember when it comes to cooking chicken.
First is the guidelines set by the USFDA for the minimum cooking temperatures and rest time for chicken. It is the temperatures needed to ensure that all foodborne related bacteria would be eliminated.
Second is the temperature of the oven, oil or any medium you would use in cooking your chicken.
And lastly, the temperature that would ensure you’re cooking your chicken to its utmost quality.
It is a handful, right? Cooking a chicken that would meet the following criteria yet producing safe and mouth-watering chicken? Cooking a part that has both white and dark meat? Cooking a whole chicken? Adding Stuffing’s? Now, that’s a lot of work.
What are the best temperatures and timing to cook your chicken?
According to chicken cooking times the following cooking temperature would ensure the best cooking time within the required internal temperature of the USFDA.
The temperature of the oven is 350°F and check internal temperature of chicken uncovered.
Best roasting kitchen equipment
- Stainless Steel Roasting Pan with Rack
Cooking the chicken on a very hot grill would burn the skin before the meat cooks, Medium low heat would be the best temperature to start with.
Best equipment for grilling
- Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker, 8 in 1 BBQ Grill Auto Temperature Controls
- Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Gril
Cook your chicken in a medium high heat in a pre-heated skillet.
- Utopia Kitchen Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet Set 3-Piece – 6 Inch
- Nonstick Frying Pan Sets with Lids
How to make your chicken juicy?
The trick is choosing the best result for you and according to the book published by James Kenji López-Alt titled the food lab, the following results can be observed at a different temperature:
- 140°F: The proteins of the meat coagulate making the meat firm and almost opaque thus creating a pinkish-tinged and extremely soft, with the texture of a warm steak and about fleshy.
- 145°F: Pale pink but completely opaque, very juicy and a little soft.
- 150°F: White and opaque, still juicy, and firmness cab be observed.
- 155°F: White and opaque, starting to turn a little bit stringy and bordering on the dry side.
- 160°F and higher: Dry, stringy, and chalky. Most of the fluids are expelled due to the conversion of collagen into rich gelatin.
By holding the chicken to your chosen temperature, you should be able to verify the internal temperature and keep that temperature for the appropriate time needed. I would recommend cooking your chicken between 150°F to 155°F as the juiciness is still good and carry-over cooking can assure you your meat is safe.
Just remember that residual heat from the outer layers of the chicken will keep the temperature rising, allowing you to keep the chicken cooking at a much higher temperature during resting time. Cooking environment and the amount of meat cooked would have an effect on the residual heat carrying over to the internal meat of the chicken.
A larger cut would produce an increase in the internal temperature more than a smaller cut.
Setting the initial temperature of your cooking environment high would allow the meat to carryover a much higher temperature.
Resting would also help to ensure that your chicken retains most of its moisture and allow juices to reabsorb into the meat.
How do you properly rest your chicken?
- The general rule is to rest your chicken from 10 to 20 minutes before moving and cutting it. Size, cuts and cooking procedure would affect your resting time.
- The larger the portion the longer the resting time it needs.
- Keep the chicken uncovered. Allowing it to retain its heat and reabsorb all of its juices.
How would an internal thermometer be a factor to all of this?
In order to achieve the corresponding temperatures needed for your moist and juicy chicken, you should first be able to check the temperature. A simple instant-read thermometer can sufficiently check temperature upon reaching your desired temperature and during resting time.
Locate the thickest part of the chicken that would not hit any bone or fat as it would have an effect on the temperature. Do not leave an instant-read thermometer stabbed to the meat and just check it towards the end of the cooking process.
As almost every untrained cook would result in overcooking chicken using old methods would show the importance of checking the internal temperature of your meat.
Following the guidelines set by the USFDA that at 165°F (74°C), you would achieve the level of doneness needed to ensure the destruction of all foodborne bacteria, but by cooking it at a much lower temperature and holding it with the corresponding pasteurization time, you would achieve the quality of moisture and juiciness of your liking.
Tracking the residual heat during resting would ensure safety when cooking under those lower temperatures and the importance of using an internal thermometer would be the key to achieving your wanted temperature that would result in the most moist and juicy chicken you have ever prepared.