How to Select Chicken and Other Poultry
When choosing poultry, the skin should be a light creamy colour and it should be moist. It should also be unbroken with no dark patches. The breast should be plump and the tip of the breastbone should be pliable. Free-range poultry is usually easily identified by the layer of fat over the breast and its darker or slightly yellower skin colour. The skin of corn-fed poultry has a distinctive yellow tinge. The flesh should have a fresh smell and should be free from any film. Fresh chicken is preferable to frozen. When choosing frozen chicken, be sure that its packaging has been well sealed.
To stop the breast meat of poultry, especially chicken and turkey, from drying out while roasting, mix together butter, a little pepper and herbs of your choice.
Separate skin from breast meat and rub butter mixture under the skin before roasting. This will keep the breast meat moist and tender.
Poultry does not need to be washed before cooking. Wipe the inside cavity with a damp cloth and wipe the skin if necessary. If poultry has been frozen, wipe it with absorbent paper to remove any excess moisture. When stuffing, be sure to stuff the cavity loosely so the heat can penetrate through the stuffing.
Fresh poultry should be stored loosely covered on a plate in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Poultry is susceptible to contamination from the salmonella bacteria, which can cause food poisoning. Therefore, care must be taken when storing, preparing and cooking it. Once frozen poultry has thawed, it should be cooked within 2 days.
Be sure that poultry is cooked through. To test for readiness, pierce the flesh at the thickest part with a fork. The juices should be clear when it is cooked.
The wings and legs of larger poultry may dry out during long cooking processes, such as roasting. Cover these parts with aluminium foil to protect them from burning.
When cutting poultry to be stir fried, be sure that the pieces are similar in size, so they cook evenly.
When freezing poultry, wrap it well in plastic wrap or seal it in a freezer bag, and date and label it. Freeze poultry for no longer than 3 months. Frozen poultry must be thawed in the refrigerator, not at room temperature. Ensure that poultry is fully defrosted before cooking.