Generally, one whole 3.5 pound fryer chicken with neck and giblets serves four and yields slightly over 3 cups of cooked, diced chicken meat without skin.
How to Read the Label
Read it and eat. The labels on packages of chicken are filled with important information.
- The nutrition facts panel, found on fresh, freshly frozen and cooked chicken products, tells you ´A´ the amount of calories, ´B´ fat, ´C´ saturated fat, ´D´ cholesterol, ´E´ protein, and ´F´ other nutrients such as vitamins and minerals in a serving of chicken.
- The package weight helps you determine how much chicken to buy. Quick guide: a pound of raw bone-in, skin-on chicken serves two to three people, while a pound of raw, boneless, skinless serves up to four people.
- A "sell by" date means that the package should not be sold after that date; be sure to cook the chicken within 1-2 days of purchase unless the chicken is frozen.
- A package of raw chicken with a "use by" date should be cooked or frozen by that date. A package of cooked chicken should be eaten by the "use by" date.
- Food safety, handling, and cooking tips also appear on the package.
How to ShopDon´t be confused in your poultry aisle. Here are the most popular parts of America´s favorite meat:
- Leg - The whole leg with unseparated drumstick and thigh, no back portion; all dark meat.
- Thigh - That portion of leg above the knee joint; no back portion unless package indicates. Favorite of those who prefer dark meat. Also available boneless and skinless.
- Drumstick - Lower portion of the leg; two usually make an adult serving.
- Breast Halves or Split Breast - White meat; available bone-in or boneless and skin-on or skinless.
- Wing Portions (Wingettes & Drummettes) - The parts that made Buffalo Wings famous. The Drummette is the first section of wing and the Wingette is the second. Ideal for hors d´oeuvres.
- Chicken Patties - A lower fat substitute for regular hamburgers, made from boneless, skinless thigh meat.
- Whole Chicken & Family Roasters - The perfect chicken for family meals or celebrations, fresh from the oven, rotisserie or grill-even the microwave.
There are four ways to thaw. By the way, you know it´s thawed when it feels soft, moist and cold-not hard and stiff.
- Refrigerator (best if you have time) - Keep your chicken off the counter and in the fridge. It takes approximately 24 hours to thaw a 4-pound chicken in the refrigerator; cut-up parts 3 to 9 hours.
- Cold Water (if you´re in a hurry)- Place chicken in its original wrap or watertight plastic bag in cold water; change water every 30 minutes. Expect about 2 hours to thaw a whole chicken.
- Microwave (if you´re really in a hurry) - For quick thawing of chicken (raw or cooked), use the microwave. Thawing time varies according to form in which chicken is frozen (whole or parts; number of parts frozen together). Use Defrost or Medium-Low setting. Microwave 2 minutes; let stand 2 minutes. Repeat if needed. Turn chicken and separate parts as it thaws, taking care that it does not begin to cook.
- Oven (if you're hurried and without a microwave) - Individually wrapped parts can be cooked straight from the freezer but you´ll need at least 50% more cooking time.
Do Not Refreeze!
It is not recommended to refreeze cooked or uncooked chicken after thawing. If improperly stored or handled, quality can be affected.
Raw FactsBacteria in many raw foods can contaminate cooked foods, so follow these tips:
- Do not let raw poultry juices come into contact with other foods in the fridge.
- Keep raw and cooked foods separate during preparation.
- Use hot, soapy water to wash bowls, cutting boards, plates and knives you used to prep raw chicken before using them for other items. That includes hands, too.
When It´s Done, It´s DoneChicken should always be well cooked. Always use a meat thermometer and cook to these specified temperatures:
- Bone-in chicken to 180 degrees F
- Bone-in parts to 170 degrees F
- Boneless parts to 160 degrees F
Take chicken's temperature in the thickest section of the breast or thigh without touching the bone.
A word on stuffing: Stuffing inside a whole chicken should reach at least 165 degrees F. If you do not have a meat thermometer, cook stuffing separately.
No thermometer? Pierce chicken with a fork-the juices should run clear and the fork should go in easily.
To be safe every time, we strongly recommend using a thermometer.
How to Carve
|Step 1 Place chicken on a clean, sanitary cutting board. Remove leg and thigh section by pressing leg away from body. Cut through joint carefully,following body contour.||Step 2 Cut the drumstick and thigh apart at the joint. Repeat steps 1 & 2 for the opposite side of the chicken.|
|Step 3 Cut the meat from the drumstick and thigh in thin slices.||Step 4 On each side of the chicken, cut between wing and breast to sever joint.|
|Step 5 Cut breast horizontally just above the wing joint, cutting through to ribs. Repeat for opposite side of the chicken.||Step 6 With long, smooth strokes, cut the breast into thin slices. Repeat for opposite side of the chicken.|
Chicken, like all fresh meats, is perishable and should be handled with care to maintain top quality. Here are some basics to remember.
Refrigerate raw chicken promptly; never leave it on the countertop at room temperature.
- Packaged fresh chicken can be refrigerated in original wrapping in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Two days storage time is best. Store it on a low shelf of the refrigerator so it does not drip onto other items in the refrigerator.
- Cooked, cut chicken is best when refrigerated two days or less; whole cooked chicken, three days or less.
- When storing a cooked and stuffed whole chicken, remove the stuffing and store in a separate container before refrigerating.
- Freeze uncooked chicken if it is not to be used within two days.
If properly packaged, these recommended storage times will keep chicken at top quality.
|Refrigerator (40 degrees F)||Freezer (0 degrees F)|
|Fresh raw chicken|
|Whole chicken||1-2 days||1 year|
|Chicken parts||1-2 days||9 months|
|Giblets||1-2 days||3-4 months|
|Ground chicken||1-2 days||3-4 months|
|Cooked chicken, leftovers|
|Fried chicken||3-4 days||4 months|
|Whole roasted chicken||3-4 days||4 months|
|Cooked chicken dishes||3-4 days||4-6 months|
|Chicken parts (plain)||3-4 days||4 months|
|Parts with gravy, broth||1-2 days||6 months|
|Chicken patties||1-2 days||1-3 months|
Note: Commercially, individually quick frozen (IQF) chicken can be stored in your freezer for up to 6 months. Longer storage time may compromise product quality.
The Cooking Time and Temperature Chart lists poultry doneness temperatures and cooking times when starting with fresh or thawed chicken, not frozen.
|Leg quarters, bone in, 4-8 oz.|
|Thigh, bone in, 5-7 oz.|
|Thigh, boneless, 3 oz.|
|Breast, bone in, 6-8 oz.|
|Breast, boneless, 4 oz.|
1 1/2 - 2 1/2 hours
|3-5 lb. (broiler)|
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 hours (broiler)
|6-8 lb. (roaster)|
1 1/2 - 2 1/4 hours (roaster)
|Ground chicken, 6 oz patty|
Fresh or Frozen? There is no quality difference between a fresh or frozen turkey. Frozen turkeys are flash frozen immediately after packaging to 0 degrees F. or below and held at that temperature until purchased. Once defrosted, the meat is practically as fresh as the day it was processed. Fresh turkeys are deep-chilled after packaging and have shorter shelf lives. Because they are perishable and require special handling and merchandising, fresh turkeys are slightly more expensive than frozen turkeys.
What size turkey do I need to buy? Purchase at least one pound of uncooked turkey per person when purchasing a whole turkey. You'll have enough for the feast, and for leftovers too.
Turkey can be thawed in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave. Whole turkey takes about 24 hours per four to five pounds to thaw in the refrigerator. In cold water, changed every 30 minutes, turkey takes about 30 minutes per pound to thaw. When using a microwave to thaw a turkey, follow the manufacturer's instructions for the size turkey that will fit in your oven, the minutes per pound and the power level to use.
Never defrost turkey on the counter. Once thawed, keep turkey refrigerated at 40 degrees F or below until it is ready to be cooked. Turkey thawed in the microwave should be cooked immediately.The Right "Stuff"
Follow these steps for safely stuffing turkey:
- Stuffing should be prepared and stuffed into the turkey immediately before it's placed in the oven for cooking. If preparing the stuffing ahead-of-time, wet and dry ingredients should be refrigerated separately and combined right before stuffing the turkey.
- Stuff the turkey loosely, about 3/4 cup stuffing per pound of turkey.
- Use a two-step test for turkey doneness: First, insert a meat thermometer into the deepest portion of the thigh, not touching bone, and allow it to come to temperature for an accurate reading. Second, once the thigh has reached 180 degrees F, move the thermometer to the center of the stuffing.
- Once the stuffing has reached 160 to 165 degrees F, the turkey should be removed from the oven.
5 Easy Steps to a Perfectly Roasted Turkey
1. Thaw the turkey and remove neck and giblets from the neck and body cavities.
2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F for conventional or 300 degrees F for convection ovens.
3. Place turkey breast-side up on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. If cooking stuffing inside the turkey, fill the body cavity with stuffing now.
4. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, not touching bone.
5. Roast the turkey, uncovered, until the meat thermometer registers 180 degrees F Use the roasting timetable to estimate approximate cooking time. If stuffed, make sure the temperature of the stuffing has reached 160 to 165 degrees F before removing the turkey from the oven.
|Thermal/Conventional Oven Open Pan Method Timetable - Roasting a Turkey at 325 Degrees F.|
|8 to 12 lbs.||2 3/4 to 3 hours|
|12 to 14 lbs.||3 to 3 3/4 hours|
|14 to 18 lbs.||3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours|
|18 to 20 lbs.||4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours|
|20 to 24 lbs.||4 1/2 to 5 hours|
|8 to 12 lbs.||3 to 3 1/2 hours|
|12 to 14 lbs.||3 1/2 to 4 hours|
|14 to 18 lbs.||4 to 4 1/4 hours|
|18 to 20 lbs.||4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours|
|20 to 24 lbs.||4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours|
Other Preparation Pointers
- For a picture-perfect turkey, tuck wing tips "akimbo" under the shoulders.
- Juices from the turkey will baste the meat as it cooks. For added moisture, pour 1/2 cup water in the bottom of the pan and brush the turkey with oil or butter and seasonings.
- Place an aluminum foil tent over the breast during the first 1 to 1 1/2 hours of cooking, then remove the foil to allow for browning.
- For easier carving, allow the turkey to stand 20 minutes once removed from the oven.
How should leftovers be stored and how long will they keep? Leftovers should be stored in shallow containers and refrigerated or frozen within two hours of cooking. Remove the stuffing and carve the extra turkey meat from the bones. Use cooked turkey and stuffing within 3-4 days and gravy in 1-2 days. Cooked turkey keeps for 3-4 months in the freezer. When using leftovers, reheat the foods thoroughly to 165 degrees F or until hot and steaming; bring gravy to a boil before serving.