Whether steamed/boiled, deep-fried, roasted, grilled, or stir-fried, we all love our chicken cooked to perfection. But many home cooks are confused about how to perfectly prepare juicy, tasty chicken, just like the one we buy in the restaurant.
You probably do not know that the preparation process is what makes a perfect chicken. One thing restaurant chefs take very seriously when preparing their chicken is the temperature of the chicken before cooking.
Although a few people cook their frozen raw chicken directly on the stove, others think that chicken should be at room temperature before cooking. Should chicken be room temperature before cooking, or can you cook it straight from the fridge? Read on to find your answers.
Should Chicken Be Room Temperature Before Cooking?
Yes, chicken should be at room temperature before cooking. It is not ideal to throw an ice-cold chicken in a pan, as there will be uneven heat distribution.
The outer parts of the chicken in direct contact with the pan will start cooking before the inner parts, and by the time the outside is fully cooked, the middle is still pink and raw.
Now, if you remove the chicken at this point, you will have a partially undercooked chicken (the chicken middle is raw or undercooked).
On the other hand, if you decide to give the middle more time to cook, you will have a partially overcooked chicken (the outside is burnt or overcooked). Either way, you will end up with an unevenly cooked chicken. So, you must bring your cold chicken to room temperature before you start cooking it.
How to Bring Chicken to Room Temperature Quickly
To bring your chicken to room temperature quickly, you’d want to first take the chicken out of the fridge, set it on the kitchen counter, and gather all the other ingredients you need for your dish.
You can increase the rate at which the chicken warms up to room temperature by placing it on a surface that is a good conductor of heat, such as a thick aluminum slab.
When you are ready to cook in about 30 minutes, your chicken is already at room temperature. However, it will take a couple more minutes for a whole bird to come to room temperature.
How Long Should Chicken Sit Out Before Cooking?
Raw chicken should be allowed to sit out for 20-30 minutes before cooking it. This will make the chicken cook more evenly so that you don’t have a brown outside with a pink, undercooked inside.
You can allow it to sit out for a shorter or longer period, depending on the size or cut of your chicken. However, the chicken should not sit out or stay at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
Should You Cook Chicken Straight from The Fridge?
Although you CAN cook chicken straight from the fridge, you SHOULD not do that. Cooking a cold piece of chicken without allowing it to come to room temperature might mess up your dinner!
If you cook straight from the fridge, you can have your chicken overcooked or undercooked. This is because there will be an uneven distribution of heat, making the chicken’s outer parts cook faster than the middle.
Is It Better to Cook Chicken Slow or Fast?
It is often better to simmer chicken; slow-cooked chicken is usually the juiciest. In addition, Slow-cooking for a longer period helps get the chicken to the required temperature without overcooking or undercooking it by creating an even temperature distribution in all chicken parts.
More importantly, your chicken should be at least 165F at the end of your cooking. You can use a meat thermometer or an instant-read thermometer to check to ensure your chicken is cooked properly.
Now that your chicken is cooked don’t be in a hurry to start slicing it. Instead, always allow your cooked chicken to rest. Resting will help to redistribute and reabsorb its juices, making it lose less juice when you cut it, resulting in a tastier and juicier chicken.
How Long to Rest Chicken After Cooking?
The resting time for chicken after cooking is between 5 and 20 minutes. How long chicken should be allowed to rest is determined by the chicken cut you cooked.
The larger the size or cut of the chicken, the longer the resting time it requires. For example, chicken breasts require a resting period of about 5-10 minutes, while a whole chicken requires about 15-20 minutes.
Does Chicken Continue to Cook After Removing from Oven?
Yes, the chicken will continue to cook after removing from the oven. This phenomenon is called “carryover cooking.”
Chicken should indeed be at room temperature before cooking. Chicken at room temperature cooks more evenly, with lesser leakage of juices while cooking.
Also, cooking room-temperature chicken helps you save time; cold or frozen chicken will take longer to cook. Just 30 minutes of leaving your chicken out at room temperature may seem trivial, but it makes a huge difference in your chicken cooking game. So why not give it a try and let us know how it goes. We can’t wait to hear from you!
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I write about the intersection between evolutionary biology and food. I also talk about practical applications, sustainable agriculture, and general tasty things