1. CHOOSING CHICKEN.
A wide variety of chicken is available, both fresh and frozen. The skin should be unblemished and moist, and the brest meat should be plump. Free-range chickens are more expensive, but have a superior flavour and texture. They can usually be identified by a generous layer of fat under the skin.
2. STRONG CHICKEN.
Almost all chickens are sold plucked and cleaned, with their innards removed. The giblets (neck, gizzard, heart and liver) are sometimes wrapped separately and stored in cavity, so be sure to remove them-they can be used to make stock and gravy. A clean fresh chicken, gablets removed, can be kept in the refrigerator for two days. Discard any plastic wrapping, place the chicken on a large dish and cover loosely. Defrost frozen chicken in the rafrigerator, but donot keep the chicken for longer than two days. store cooked chicken, loosely wrapped, in the rafrigerator. Use within three days.
3. TYPES OF CHICKEN.
Poussins and small cock birds (coquelets) weigh about 500g (1 lb).
Roasting chickens weighing over 1.4kg (3 lb) are more mature birds.
Boiling fowls are older, toogher birds that are best served braised or poached. Free-range chickens come in all sizes-large roasting chickens weighing upto 4.5kg (10 lb) are sometimes available.
4. CLEANING & HANDLING.
Thoroughly rinse chicken cavity before cooking, and wipe dry with kitchen paper. If the chicken been frozen, blot the skin with dry kitchen paper to absorb as much moisture as possible. Wash your hands before and after handling raw chicken, and wash kitchen equipment after use.
Wrap giblets separately before freezing raw birds. Cooked chicken tends to dry out after two weeks, but in sauce or poaching liquid it will keep up to three months.
Thaw frozen chicken in the rafrigeretor, allowing 3 hours per 500g (1 lb).
To spread thawing time, place the bird in its plastic wrapping in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Change the water regularly until the chicken thaws. A large bird will thaw in 3-5 hours. Cook a frozen chicken within 12 hours of thawing.
7. SERVING SIZES.
These servings are approximate, depending on the recipe. Poussins and other small birds serve one. Frying or grilling chicken under 1.4kg (3 lb) serve two to four people. Whole roasting chickens iver 1.4kg (3 lb) serve fout to six people. Mature fowls weighing more than 2.3kg (5 lb) serve six to eight people. Large birds weighing up to 4.5kg (10 lb), will serve 10 to 12 people.
Poultry is highly susceptible to contamination by salmonella bacteria, causing food poisoning, so prepare, cook and store carefully. Raw chicken should be stored in the rafrigerator for no more than two days, loosley wrapped. Allow frozen chicken to thaw completely before starting to cook. Bring a chilled chicken to room temperature before cooking. Wash your hands thoroughlly before and after handling chicken. Stuff the cavity loosely. Cook chicken until the juices runs clear when it is tested with a fork.