How to truss a chicken
Trussing a chicken is easier than you may think and serves an important purpose. It helps the chicken to cook evenly without drying out.
- Start by using kitchen twine – plain, unbleached cotton string that won’t melt or burn. You’ll need at least 0,9m of twine for an average-sized chicken.
- Put the chicken, breast side up, on a chopping board. With the legs facing towards you, position the centre of the twine underneath the tailbone.
- Next, secure the legs by lifting the twine and wrapping each end around the bottom of the legs. Cross the two pieces in the middle.
- Now, holding both ends of the twine, pull tightly until the legs come together. Pulling the ends away from you, wrap the twine over the wings and around the front of the chicken.
- Turn the bird over so the neck is facing you and tie a knot beneath the neckbone.
- Trim the ends of the twine using a knife – it’s easier to clean than a pair of scissors.
- Turn the chicken onto its back again and pop it into the oven to roast.
How to make delicious dips for chicken nuggets
Chicken nuggets make for easy party canapés that won’t break the bank! Add one (or all) of the following dips to your party platter this summer.
Garlic and lemon mayo
- Stir 2 finely chopped garlic cloves and the zest and juice of ½ lemon into 1 cup (250ml) mayonnaise.
- Finely chop 3 small gherkins and 3 pickled onions and stir into ¾ cup (180ml) tomato sauce.
Sweet and sour
- Stir together ¾ cup (180ml) pineapple juice, ¼ (60ml) cup apple cider vinegar, ¼ cup (60ml) brown sugar, 2 tbsp (30ml) tomato sauce and 1 tbsp (15ml) cornflour. Thicken over a low heat and allow to cool.
How to joint a chicken
Wondering how to joint a raw chicken to cook in individual pieces or to serve as part of a delicious casserole? Follow these easy steps.
- Place the chicken breast-side up on a cutting board.
- Pull the leg and thigh away from the body and use your fingers to find the hip joint in the fold.
- Stick the tip of a large knife into the joint to separate the thigh and leg from the body. Repeat on the other side.
- Use the same method to separate the leg from the thigh and to cut the wings from the body.
- To remove the chicken breast, cut through the breast bone to divide the carcass into two.
- Cut away all bone and gristle from the breasts. You will now have two of each – thighs, drumsticks, wings, and breasts.
- Add the carcass to soups, stews or casseroles to flavour them and remove the bones just before dishing up.
How to cook crumbed chicken
Here's how to make sure you get crunchy crumbed chicken every time.
- Heat some oil in a pan. Wait until the oil is hot – between 170°C and 180°C is best – before you add the chicken.
- Fry the chicken until the crumbs are golden brown. It should take about 8 to 10 minutes to cook both sides. Make sure you cook the chicken for long enough – if you don’t, the crumbs will be soggy and the meat undercooked. If the crumbs brown too quickly, reduce the heat.
- Pop the cooked chicken onto some kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil.
How to get golden chicken skin
Getting golden, crispy skin is actually fairly easy when you know what to do.
- First, check that the chicken’s skin is completely dry. Use a paper towel to remove any moisture.
- Next, generously rub the chicken with oil and season well. Put the chicken into a preheated oven to cook.
- Uncover the chicken 20 to 30 minutes before the end of your cooking time. Put it onto a shallow baking tray to allow the dry heat to come into contact with as much skin as possible. You can also put the chicken onto an oven rack over a tray.
Pop the chicken back into the oven and roast until the skin is golden and crisp.
How to defrost a whole chicken
Defrosting a whole chicken takes a bit of planning.
- It’s best to thaw a frozen chicken overnight in the fridge.
- Put the chicken in a large bowl or on a plate to prevent the juices from dripping in the fridge.
- A good rule of thumb to follow: 500g of chicken takes about five hours to thaw.
- Pressed for time? Put the bird in a bucket of cold water in the sink, but keep the water cold to prevent bacteria from growing.
- Always thaw chicken completely before cooking. Check inside the cavity to make sure there is no more ice. Also check that the giblets have been removed.
Never refreeze defrosted chicken.
How to marinate chicken
Marinating chicken is a simple way to get tender meat and great flavour.
- Marinades made from sugar or salt will help tenderise the chicken, while acidic marinades (lemon juice or vinegar) will change the texture of the chicken. Don’t leave chicken for too long in an acidic marinade though – the meat may become dry and stringy.
- Use one chopping board to prep the chicken and another for the marinade ingredients. Don’t forget to use two separate knives as well – or wash the knife you used to cut the chicken with in hot soapy water to prevent cross-contamination.
- Mix the chicken and marinade in a closed container, and pop into the fridge for between three and 12 hours. Glass or ceramic dishes are best; aluminium dishes can give the chicken a metallic taste.
- Don’t have a lot of time? Even 15 to 20 minutes of marinating the meat can make a difference
How to keep things clean
Always keep your kitchen and utensils clean when working with chicken.
- Never let raw chicken come into contact with other food, whether it’s cooked or uncooked.
- Use a separate chopping board and knife when you work with raw chicken to prevent cross-contamination (when germs are unintentionally transferred from one substance or object to another).
- Wash everything that comes into contact with raw chicken with hot, soapy water – this includes your hands, chopping boards, dishes, knives, kitchen cloths and any surfaces.
- Make sure your chicken is cooked through properly to kill any harmful bacteria