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Tips and Tricks for Cooking Chicken Safely; Part 2: Marinating and Cooking

Tips and Tricks for Cooking Chicken Safely

Part 2: Marinating and Cooking

We’ve explored some of the important safety tips for defrosting and preparing chicken, and it’s time to focus on the next steps: marinating and cooking.

While you certainly don’t need to marinade your chicken prior to cooking, there are a few good reasons to do so:

  • Marinating can keep chicken from drying out during cooking;
  • It helps reduce cooking time
  • It tenderizes the meat
  • Last but not least, marinating adds flavor to your chicken!

Now that you know some of the reasons you should marinate your pasture raised chicken prior to cooking, let's go over a few safety tips to keep in mind. 

Marinate your chicken in the proper container: Since most marinades contain an acidic substance (such as lemon juice) to help tenderize the meat, allowing your meat to marinate in a metal container can cause a reaction. You can marinate in a food-safe zipper bag, but since these will have to be thrown out after use, you may opt for a pyrex or glass dish to minimize waste. 

Never reuse your marinade: No matter how good it smells, or how tempting it may be to reuse that delicious marinade on some roasted veggies or a salad, never ever reuse your chicken marinade on another food. Even if you want to use it to baste your chicken during cooking, it will need to be boiled first to avoid contaminating your cooked food with any bacteria left over from raw meat. If you plan to use some of your marinade on other foods, set some aside to be used on other foods, before adding the raw chicken. 

Always marinate in the refrigerator: Aside from the last 20 minutes or so of marinating, when you may want to bring your meat to room temperature immediately prior to cooking, all marinating should take place in the fridge. The “danger zone” for bacterial growth in raw chicken happens when the temperature rises above 40 degrees Fahrenheit (refrigerators hover around 37 degrees), and the longer the chicken is in this danger zone, the higher the risk of bacterial growth.

Safe Cooking Tips for Chicken

We can’t stress the importance of this enough - no matter how safely you handled, defrosted, marinated, and prepared your chicken, if you don’t cook it enough, you run the risk of foodborne illness (any of you who’ve had the misfortune to experience this know that it is NOT FUN.) 

There are various safe cooking temperatures depending on the type of meat you’ve prepared, but when it comes to chicken, it should always be cooked to a minimum temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 

It can be tough to know when exactly chicken is ready, and cutting into the meat to see what color it is not only isn’t a reliable or foolproof method, but it can also mess with the cooking process. We highly, highly recommend a meat thermometer to ensure that your chicken is cooked to a safe internal temperature every time. This takes the guesswork out of cooking chicken, and you can rest easy knowing that your meat will neither be undercooked, nor overcooked and chewy.

Last but not least, always make sure any cooking or marinating utensils, bowls, plates, knives, and cutting boards are thoroughly washed and disinfected after using them to prepare raw chicken, and make sure to wash your hands and cooking surfaces as well to avoid spreading bacteria around your kitchen. 

Chicken is one of the most delicious, healthy, and versatile meats around, but it is important to follow certain safety tips when preparing it, or any other meat. Please enjoy your Pasturebird!

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