Chicken is delicious in all kinds of dishes and cuisines, from Mexican fajitas to Indian curries to Thai soups. When cooked right, it’s beautifully juicy and tender, with a mild and appealing flavour that interacts well with an incredible array of spices and herbs. The main ways to cook chicken are roasting, pan-frying, broiling, grilling, deep-frying and poaching. Cooked chicken is also delicious served cold in salads, sandwiches and wraps.
Trim excess skin from around the chicken, to avoid them burning and causing flare-ups. Make sure chicken pieces are cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). If you’re roasting a whole bird, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and thigh. If the thermometer reads 185°F (85°C), the meat is fully cooked.
Chicken is divided into three basic cuts, plus the giblets (or you can cook a bird whole).
And to help you stay on budget, we’ve broken down each category of meat into price ranges. The $ symbol indicates a more economical cut, and the * symbol means it’s premium.
$ The whole bird:
- The most economical way to enjoy chicken is to cook a whole bird and use it up over a few days. The leftover carcass will make the foundation for an excellent stock.
Try it: Braised Whole Chicken
* Breasts: Lean and versatile breasts can be bought with or without skin and bones, or unsplit (two breasts connected). Cook them whole – poached, baked, grilled or in a skillet – or cut them into strips before cooking in soups or stir-fries.
* Wings: Most often sold split into the drumette, midsection and tip. They need higher heat and/or longer cooking times because they are fattier than many other chicken cuts. Planning to watch the big game at your place? Serve up a heap of wings covered in finger-licking-good barbecue sauce.
Try it: Kickin’ Chicken Wings
From the Leg
$ Drumsticks: Prepared with a simple marinade or barbecue sauce, drumsticks are budget-friendly finger food perfect for everyday dinners – and picnics!
Try it: Grilled Lemon & Garlic Chicken
$ Thighs: This is incredibly juicy and flavourful dark meat – especially if you buy it bone-in.
From Various Cuts
$ Ground chicken:
- Ground flesh from various cuts of the bird, ground chicken is lighter in flavour and leaner than ground beef, and can be used in meatballs, burgers, dumplings and meat loaf.
$ Giblets: The heart, liver and neck of the bird are all good stuff for different uses, such as gravy and broth. Chicken livers are delicious fried with onions or transformed into a rich pâté.
How to Carve a Whole Chicken Like a Pro
- Let your chicken rest, tented under aluminum foil, for 10 to 15 minutes before you get carving – it will retain more juices.
- Hold your chicken in place on a carving board with a large (roasting) fork as you cut with a sharp carving knife.
- To carve off the legs, cut down the side of the chicken, through the hip joint – the bones will pop out easily. For even smaller leg pieces, find the joint between the drumstick and the thigh and make another cut.
- For the wings, cut through the wing joints with a firm action.
- To remove the breast meat, place the bird on its back, and then cut down from the centre line to remove the flesh cleanly from the cartilage, one side at a time.
- Tear the “oysters” – extra-juicy pieces of meat – from the back, just above the leg sockets.
- Scrape juices and scraps (excluding fat and skin) from the carving board when you’re done, to add extra flavour to the gravy.