|Poultry Cooking Methods|
Chicken may be cooked in a variety of ways:
Rub the surface of the bird with lemon juice to preserve the colour, and then place it in a pan with a bouquet garni, carrots, onions, and just enough water to cover the meat. Add half a teaspoon of salt for each pound of chicken. Bring the water to the boil and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cover with a lid and cook under tender; about 2-3 hours for a whole bird, 15-20 minutes for chicken joints. Use the cooking liquid as stock or soup.
Lightly fry the chicken in a little oil or butter to brown; remove, and then fry vegetables such as onions, carrots, celery or turnips in the fat. Place the bird on top of the vegetables in a casserole dish or pan, and cook in the oven at 170°C/325°F/Gas Mk 3 or on the stove at a low heat until tender. This could take up to 3 hours, depending on the size and age of the bird.
Small chickens (poussins or spring chickens) up to 1lb in weight may be grilled - simply place the bird on its breast, cut through the backbone and open it out. The bird can then be flattened using a meat mallet.
Brush the bird with oil or melted butter and grill under a moderate heat for 20-30 minutes, turning frequently.
Coat chicken to be fried in seasoned flour, or in egg and breadcrumbs. When shallow frying, brown the meat quickly at a high heat, and then lower the temperature and cook gently until the meat is tender - about 15-20 minutes. If deep-frying, use oil at a temperature of 190°C/375°F and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the meat is tender and crisp on the outside.
Bard the chicken by covering the lean breast flesh with bacon rashers; this will keep the breast meat moist as it cooks. Place the chicken into a roasting tin in the centre of an oven pre-heated to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mk 5, cooking for 20 minutes per pound, plus another 20 minutes. If the chicken weighs 4 lbs or over roast it at 170°C/325°F/Gas Mk 3 for 25 minutes per pound, plus another 25 minutes.
Alternatively, wrap the chicken loosely in foil, and roast at 205°C/400°F/Gas mark 6 for 20 minutes per pound, plus another 20 minutes. Unwrap the chicken for the final 20 minutes of cooking time to allow it to brown.
Test the chicken is thoroughly cooked by using an instant-read thermometer, inserted into the thickest part of the thigh. The thermometer should register an internal temperature of at least 75°C/170°F. Alternatively, insert a skewer into the thigh; the juices that are released should run clear.
Place the chicken on a wire rack over a deep pan of boiling water. Cover the bird with foil, and then steam for 3-4 hours, topping up the water as necessary.
When roasting a whole duck, prick the skin of the bird over all the fatty areas to allow the fat to drain. Place on a trivet before roasting to crisp the skin and allow more of the fat to drain away during cooking. Roast at 205°C for 20 minutes per pound.
Duck joints can also be braised – they should be cooked slowly at around 180° C for about an hour.
When buying duck allow 1lb or 500g per person raw weight.
As goose is more fatty than chicken, it does not need to be barded or brushed with fat before cooking. Prick its skin well, and then pour over a kettleful of boiling water before placing the bird on a high trivet or rack in a roasting tin. This will allow it to stand clear of the fat that will be released as it cooks.
Place the goose into the bottom of an oven at 180°C/350°F/Gas Mk 4 and slow cook for 25 minutes per pound.
Alternatively, loosely wrap the bid in tinfoil and place it into the centre of the oven to cook at 205°C/400°F/Gas Mk 6, allowing 15 minutes per pound, plus an extra 15 minutes.
If practicable, pour off some of the fat halfway through the cooking.
To create a crispy skin, increase the heat for the last few minutes of cooking and splash the bird with cold water. The water droplets will quickly evaporate, leaving the skin delicately crisp.
When buying goose, allow 3/4 lb of raw meat per person.
All poultry presents a health risk if cooked when not properly thawed, and turkey is no exception. The best way to defrost a turkey is to put it into the fridge 2 days before it needs to be cooked; 3 days if it is extra large. This will allow it to thaw gradually at a safe temperature.
Coat the turkey in softened butter and bard it with bacon strips. It may then either be slow or quick-roasted.
If slow-roasting, place the bird in the oven at 170°C/ 325°F/ Gas Mk 3, and make sure that it basted frequently during the cooking process.
Alternatively, wrap the turkey in foil and quick roast it at 230°C/ 450°F/ Gas Mk 8. The foil should be removed during the last 30 minutes to allow the skin to crisp and brown.
When buying turkey, allow 1 lb of raw meat per person; thus a 12 lb turkey will provide 12 generous helpings.