I couldn’t let the last day of National Chicken Month go by without sharing some random tidbits about our favorite feathered fowl. Here they are in no particular order.
1. Skin Color
The color of a chicken’s skin, which can range from white to yellow, is directly related to the chicken’s diet and not necessarily an indicator of quality.
2. Free Range
Chickens are typically raised indoors in houses that can hold tens of thousands of birds. Free range birds are permitted to move about freely outdoors as much as they’d like. They’re also usually fed vegetarian diets, without antibiotics that are often added to chicken feed to speed up the birds’ growth so they’re ready to sell sooner.
3. Determining Doneness
Poultry should always be served fully cooked, until well-done. Because it becomes dry, tough and stringy when overcooked, it’s important to cook it just until it’s done and no longer. Here are a few ways to determine a chicken’s doneness:
1. Temperature – Chicken should be cooked until it’s 165°-170°. When using a thermometer, make sure to insert it in the thickest part of the meat, away from any bones.
2. Color of Juices – When a sharp knife is inserted into the chicken, any juices that run out should be clear in color, not pink.
3. Touch – Much like beef, chicken flesh will toughen up as it cooks. When touched, cooked chicken should spring back quickly.
4. How Long Can I Keep it
…in the freezer?
According to the USDA, if wrapped properly, a raw, whole chicken can be frozen for up to a year. Raw chicken parts can be frozen for up to 9 months. Cooked chicken should only stay in the freezer for up to 4 months.
…in the fridge?
Raw chicken, whole or parts, should not be refrigerated for more than 48 hours. Cooked chicken or leftovers should be eaten within that same timeframe.
If you have any questions about how to safely prepare, package, cook and store chicken or any foods, visit the USDA’s Food Safety Education website at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Food_Safety_Education/usda_meat_&_poultry_hotline/index.asp