All About Chicken

If you want to get even more out of your favourite recipes, consider expanding your repertoire of kitchen skills to include brining, dry rubbing, and patty-making.

When you think of the most quintessentially Canadian meat, what do you imagine? Succulent, cedar-plank salmon? The earthy taste of buffalo? The dark glories of roast duck?

Though these are all classic Canadian meats with long and complex culinary histories in these lands, in terms of sheer popularity, nothing beats the humble chicken.

Over the years, chicken has become the single most popular meat in Canada, with 84% of Canadians purchasing it on a regular basis, and another 90% listing among their favourite meats, beating out beef and pork by a significant margin.

In many ways, it’s not surprising that in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural nation, chicken takes the crown: not only is it a key feature in cuisines around the world, and unlike beef and pork, there is no meat-eating culture with a prohibition against chicken.

Chicken is also famously easy to cook. Even people who don’t fancy themselves home chefs can cut up some chicken breast and sauté it with onions, broccoli, and soy sauce for a nice stir fry, and when you order healthy whole chickens from truLOCAL, it’s not hard to get the hang of a holiday roast.

But while basic chicken is easy to make, one of the delights of this bird is that there’s really no limit to how good it can be when done right. So if you want to take your cooking game to the next level, here are four techniques that can help you get more out of your truLOCAL chicken order.

1. Brining

If you’ve ever wondered why restaurant roast chicken is so much better than what you usually get at home, the answer probably lies in the brining.

In the brining process, chicken (whole or in pieces) is submerged in a bath of salt and spices before cooking. The meat absorbs the salt, and for this reason is able to retain more water, making the meat significantly juicier.

Typically, a brine uses some or all of the following ingredients:

·      Salt

·      Sugar or honey

·      Peppercorns

·      Bay leaves

·      Thyme

·      Parsley

·      Rosemary

·      Garlic

·      Citrus

These are combined in a large pot, brought to a boil, and cooled to room temperature. When the water is cold enough to not be a food safety hazard, the chicken should be submerged in it for at least twelve hours.

If you want to try brining, we’d recommend you order our truLOCAL chicken thighs and start with those. This will give you an opportunity to fine-tune your recipe with one of the naturally juicier parts of the chicken before trying your hand at a whole bird.

Many chefs combine the brining process with cold-drying in a fridge. This helps to ensure that any remaining moisture evaporates, so that when you pop your chicken in the oven or the pan, the surface of the meat can reach the crucial heat where the Maillard Reaction happens more quickly. 

2. Dry Rubbing

Similar to brining, dry rubbing prepares the meat for cooking using a blend of herbs and spices that will impart flavour. But unlike dry brining, a rub doesn’t cure the meat, so you don’t need to worry about getting the rub ready in advance. 

One important thing to remember about dry rubs: they should always be applied to a dry piece of meat, and shouldn’t contain any wet ingredients. This will help you get a faster sear to lock in the juices.

Those familiar with southern-style barbeque probably already have some experience with dry rubs, as they’re an essential component in recipes for brisket and ribs. While the basic principle is the same — all rubs are meant to spice up the meat and create a nice tasty crust — because chicken has a milder flavour than beef, you have a lot more options for rub ingredients. 

If you love truLOCAL’s seasoned chicken breasts but want to try your hand at creating your own signature spice mix, include boneless and skinless chicken breasts in your next order and start experimenting with your own style of dry rub.

3. Chicken Patties

Chicken is popular in part because it is simply healthier than beef. Because it contains less saturated fat and fewer overall calories, you can make chicken a regular, every-day part of your diet without having to worry about your heart.

This means that chicken is often substituted for beef in dishes like meatballs, meatloaf, and hamburgers. The problem is that chicken’s lower fat count makes a big difference, and you can’t just swap out beef for chicken and expect everything else to be the same.

If you’ve ordered some extra lean ground chicken from truLOCAL because you want to a low-fat alternative for your patties or meatballs, you’ll also need to make a few other adjustments to the recipe if you don’t want it to become too dry.

Here are a few tips for getting the most out of lean ground chicken:

·      Add moisture using olive oil or Greek yoghurt

·      Cook at a lower temperature

·      Use a thermometer to monitor internal temperature

·      Use more seasoning than you would with beef

Following these steps will help you get all the health benefits of ground chicken while still getting a mouth-watering final product.

At truLOCAL, we know what goes into good chicken. It’s one of the reasons why we take such care to source all of our products from farms and butchers committed to the values of sustainability and good taste.

If you want to get even more out of your favourite recipes, consider expanding your repertoire of kitchen skills to include brining, dry rubbing, and patty-making, and order a truLOCAL meat box filled with great chicken from local producers.

Posted on September 22nd, 2023