You just want to cook chicken. Instead, you find yourself stuck at the meat refrigerator at the grocery store, wondering what it all means:
Don’t panic. There’s a lot of choice when it comes to cuts of poultry, so here’s how to decode the labels and figure out what you need.
You get the most bang for your buck by buying a whole chicken and carving it into parts yourself – a process called disjointing. Sounds a bit medieval!
Rather than trying to cut up a raw, whole chicken (the process could get messy!), try roasting it, following startcooking.com’s instructions for roast chicken, then use the step-by-step guide to carving roasted chicken. As easy as roasting a whole chicken might be, most of us rely on the convenience of pre-cut parts, so let’s tackle them one by one.
Skinless, boneless chicken breasts are the workhorse of chicken recipes because they’re versatile, cook relatively quickly and are low-fat.
Chicken breasts work well grilled or baked if you pre-marinate them or baste (brush them with sauce or their own juices) while cooking. They can also be pan-fried. And when cut into strips, they can be stir-fried or threaded on skewers.
Boneless, skinless breasts are available either whole, or pre-cut in half. One whole breast typically makes about 2 cups of cooked chicken (a healthy, hearty amount!).
The index, at the top of this page, lists several recipes using boneless chicken breasts including: Chicken Fajitas, Chicken Cutlets, Crispy Chicken, Grilled Chicken with Teriyaki Sauce (shown at the top of this page) and cooking grilled chicken – indoors.
Chicken legs (otherwise known as drumsticks; although I wouldn’t use them in that capacity) contain dark meat, which is typically fattier than breast cuts. Some people would argue that dark meat is tastier too.
Drumsticks with the bone in the centre are a cheaper option, and are often roasted or deep-fried. Another option is boneless thigh meat, which can sometimes be substituted for breast meat, but is best suited for casseroles and dishes that cook slowly.
Here’s another cheap cut of chicken, but there’s not a lot of meat on them bones! Fortunately, Food Wishes has a great video on how to remove the bones. Well known as a finger-licking appetizer, wings are best cooked on the barbecue, deep-fried or marinated.
What about the rest of the chicken?
Chicken breasts, legs and wings are the most commonly used parts of the chicken. But there’s more to a chicken than that! Other bone-in cuts like breast quarters (the wing, breast and back) or leg quarters (the drumstick and thigh) are available, but take longer to cook than boneless cuts. They are best braised, roasted or pan-fried.
Now you know what it all means, so start cooking.
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