If you want to know what to do with a grilled chicken breast, here are a few things to consider.
What’s the best kind of chicken?
The first thing you need is to decide which kind of poultry you want.
“It’s important to make sure that the chicken is of the same size and weight,” says Dan Gittleson, a poultry expert at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
This includes the size and shape of the bones, as well as the amount of fat that’s embedded in the chicken.
“A lot of chicken tends to be smaller, and it’s more prone to getting damaged in a collision, so a chicken with a larger bone, like a lean-back, is more likely to survive,” he says.
“Also, chicken with more fat, like the pork chop, has the best chance of surviving.”
It’s also important to note that a chicken’s weight can be influenced by how lean the bird is.
“I wouldn’t necessarily go for a whole chicken with the same weight,” Gitteson says.
If you have a smaller bird, he says, you’ll want to look for a bird with a smaller bone, which is easier to chew, and a larger muscle group.
“If the chicken has a large muscle, you might want to try a whole bird, because it’s going to take longer to chew,” he explains.
A chicken can also have a larger size than the size of the bone, but this won’t always be true.
A smaller bone will often be the most efficient.
“So the key thing to remember is that your best bet is to find a chicken that is of a similar size to your own,” says Gittelson.
“And if it’s a whole, you’re not going to be able to break it.”
If you don’t have the time to do that, you can always get the chicken directly from the farm, he explains, “so it’s much easier to figure out what you want.”
And, in case you’re wondering, “lean-back” is a relative term.
“Lean-back,” or a smaller chicken, is a term for a chicken whose bones are about one-third or less of the size they would be in a whole.
“The other way to say it is that the bones are one-half the size you’d expect in a lean chicken,” says John Gittlson, another poultry expert and an assistant professor of poultry science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“You’re not necessarily going to have the muscle and bone structure of a lean bird.”
What to do if you’re unsure about the size?
“I think there’s always room for improvement,” Ganneson advises.
“But if you don [get the right kind], I think you’ll probably find that the results will be pretty similar.”
If your chicken doesn’t look right, “You can always try different cuts, you know, to see how it feels,” he adds.
“In terms of taste, it’s important not to overdo it.
If the chicken feels like it’s overcooked, you should give it another pat, or use a different cooking method.
It’s probably going to feel a little less tender, so you might need to adjust that.”
A chicken’s color isn’t the only thing you should be looking for.
“One of the things that’s not very important is the size,” says Kalees, adding that the color of the chicken depends on how much moisture it has been exposed to.
“We’re not always going to see the same results in different chickens,” she says.
When you cook your chicken, the amount and type of moisture in the meat is an important consideration, too.
“That’s why it’s so important to get your meat dry before you cook it,” says Fiske.
“With lean meats, you want as much moisture as possible.”
“You should always be looking at the flavor of the meat,” Gansons adds.
But if you aren’t concerned about the flavor, you don, either.
“When you cook chicken, you are actually cooking it, so the flavor is actually a function of how much water the chicken had been exposed and the temperature at which it was cooked,” he advises.
This process can be complicated, however.
“Some birds can taste better with a higher temperature,” Gatti says.
And, Gittsons says, “There are birds that are actually a little bit sweeter when they’re cooked at lower temperatures.”
How do you store chicken?
Gittas says you can either store your chicken at room temperature or cool it down in the refrigerator.
“Depending on the size, you could also cook it in a microwave,” he suggests.
“This is an interesting one,” says A