How To Tell If Chicken Is Cooked ? 4 Simple Ways Anybody Can Do
Chicken is one of the most commonly used main ingredients in various dishes. With this in mind, it is important to cook it perfectly - not overcooked, not undercooked. Overcooking won’t really do much damage, aside from giving you a tasteless and dry dish.
Undercooking chicken, on the other hand, is more dangerous, because it can lead to illnesses that come from bacteria such as campylobacter and salmonella, which both thrive in undercooked meat. In fact, reports state that after several tests, the majority of chickens available commercially in supermarkets are infected by at least one of these bacteria.
Millions of illnesses occur in different places as a result. The Food Safety and Information Service recommends all cooks to follow the standard internal cooking temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Now that we’ve established the importance of cooking chicken just right, the next thing to do is to learn how to tell if chicken is cooked. How can you be sure that the meat is done before removing it from heat? There are four very simple ways to do this.
How To Tell If Chicken Is Cooked Using A Thermometer
This is still the best way to go about this.
- Simply insert the thermometer into the chicken’s thickest part.
- If the recipe requires you to cook it all the way to the bone, be sure that the thermometer doesn’t touch the bone (because the bone conducts heat, so you can get a false high reading).
- Check the internal temperature and see if it meets the USDA requirement for safety. For chicken, it is 165 degrees.
How To Tell If Chicken Is Cooked Using The Finger Test
This is a common technique for long-time cooking fans and professional chefs. This can be done in various ways.
1. Familiarize yourself with the feeling of raw meat. It should resemble this: While relaxed, pinch the flesh of your hand below your thumb.
2. Familiarize yourself with the feeling of medium-rare meat. It should resemble this: Touch your thumb with your middle finger and then pinch it.
3. Familiarize yourself with the feeling of medium-cooked meat. It should resemble this: Lightly touch your thumb with your ring finger.
4. Familiarize yourself with the feeling of well-done meat. It should resemble this: Have your thumb and pinkie finger touch each other.
5. Touch the meat and identify which of the textures mentioned earlier best describes it. This will let you identify if it is raw, medium-rare, medium-well, or well-done. Adjust cooking time accordingly.
This method isn’t for everyone. Newbies to the kitchen may prefer using the other methods. Also, this method is limited to smaller cuts of meat.
How To Tell If Chicken Is Cooked By Checking Its Juice
Unlike the other methods here, this one is exclusively applicable to chicken meat.
1. Poke the chicken breast and see some of the natural juices escape.
2. If the juice is clear, the chicken is cooked.
3. If the juice is reddish or pinkish, you need to cook it a bit longer.
This method is also a little touch-and-go, and if you are wrong in recognizing the color of the meat juice, you can end up with chicken that is undercooked and unsafe to eat.
How To Tell If Chicken Is Cooked By Checking Its Size
Many cooks judge the doneness of chicken simply by looking at its outer color. This is fine but can lead to inaccurate judgment if you are grilling the meat (because the exterior of the chicken becomes unnaturally charred or grilled, leading to a blackened or browned color). It is possible to have a piece of chicken that already looks ready to eat on the outside, especially with those grill marks - and yet it may actually still be raw and cold on the inside.
As an alternative, especially if you are grilling or barbecuing, is to check its size instead. The meat must shrink in size if it’s done well. The change will be subtle, though. Plus, you run the risk of overcooking your meat if you don’t notice the small changes right away. So this is another method best left to the pros.
The Verdict: Which Method Is Right For You
These are different ways to check if the chicken you’re cooking is already done. The most definitive way is to use a thermometer, or even better, take a knife and slice the piece of meat to check its texture, color, and juice. Of course, using a knife isn’t recommended for professional settings. If you’re serving a dish to guests, you wouldn’t want to give them sliced-up chicken parts.
It can be best to use more than one of these methods together since they’re pretty easy to do. But to be 100% sure all the time, invest in a good meat thermometer. After all, when it comes to food safety and hygiene, it’s better to be safe than sorry.