Chicken has come to occupy a unique place in our nation's cuisine. Leaner and with less cholesterol than its red meat counterparts, it has earned a reputation as a pillar of healthy eating. Combined with its fabled power to take on many flavours in many ways, chicken is an Australian favourite.
The Peter Bouchier team are butchers of distinction. For more than a quarter of a century we have worked diligently to master this versatile meat. To help you get the most out of your chicken, we've compiled a handy guide for cooking and preparing this delicious bird. You will discover the different cuts of chicken and how best to cook them, plus the ideal accompanying dishes and drinks. Read on to learn more about this fantastic fowl's culinary charisma and scope.
Peter Bouchier's chicken is revered for its quality and freshness. Browse our selection of premium chicken products, all available for purchase in store or online.
What is chicken?
Chicken refers to the meat of any one of the domestic fowl species descended from the Asian jungle fowl. As the most common poultry in the world, chickens and their eggs are consumed by most human beings on Earth. Chicken has been on our menus since at least 10,000 BC, and it is easy to see that continuing for another 10,000 years.
As well as being high in protein and low in saturated fat, chicken is also a rich source of essential vitamins and minerals including iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium and zinc.
What are the different cuts of chicken?
Owing to its smaller form, chicken may be served whole or divided into minor cuts. All of the different cuts of chicken draw out a different aspect of the chicken magic.
- Whole chicken is the grandest serving fashion and consists of the entire bird. Classically served roasted, stuffed with herbs and rubbed with spices.
- Chicken drumsticks are the chicken's shins (subcuts are also available and are known as chicken drumettes or chicken drumlets). Their darker meat is a characteristic light burgundy, juicier and fattier than other cuts.
- Chicken wings consist of the meat from the chicken's wing region. More sparsely bodied than other cuts, they cook quickly and offer particular pleasure when their light meat is marinated and fried.
- Chicken thighs are among the tastiest parts of the chicken, parcels of tender, moist meat from the top of the bird’s leg. The meat is firm, dark and requires longer to cook.
- Chicken breast is the leanest part of the bird, especially when served sans skin. The white meat of this cut is perfect for the most health-conscious meals.
- Chicken Maryland is a cut of chicken that includes the drumstick and thigh. It contains browner meat which is tastier and fattier than breast meat.
- Chicken mince is minced or ground chicken parts and can be served as is or incorporated into chicken sausages, rissoles and fritters.
Many other elements of chicken can be consumed. While not typically consumed in Australia, other cultures enjoy chicken feet, head, neck, pygostyle and giblets.
What are the best chicken cooking methods?
Chicken is a versatile protein with a subtle taste profile. Accordingly it lends itself to a variety of cooking methods.
- Baked chicken is the reliable classic of many a weekly menu. Roast some vegetables and season with herbs to round out an easy, graceful dish.
- Fried chicken is nearly impossible for anyone to turn down. It's just marvellous. Marinate beforehand and serve with a dipping sauce to ascend to food heaven.
- Stir fried chicken is the quintessential light and breezy meal. Throw in a medley of vegetables and you have yourself a nutritious meal ready in minutes.
- Pan frying chicken is a straightforward and rewarding option. Sauté butterfly chicken, chicken tenderloin or crumb chicken for a quick and irresistible dish.
- Grilled chicken has a slightly charred quality that is totally tantalising. Grill some tomatoes, asparagus or zucchini while cooking to complete a simple, healthful option.
How long should I cook chicken?
The length of time you should cook chicken is a function of its size and cut, cooking method and desired doneness. If your chicken is undercooked you may experienced food poisoning, while overcooked chicken can lead to dreaded dryness.
Once you have cooked your chicken, be sure to let it rest for 5 or 10 minutes. While it can be difficult to resist the temptation of all that delicious bird, waiting is a must. This is because it allows juices to be reabsorbed by the meat, thereby concentrating flavour and moisture. The net effect is a more succulent, delicious experience above that of immediately eating the chicken.
What's the desired internal temperature of chicken?
Raw chicken can be a host for harmful germs and bacteria, so it must be cooked properly. What is the correct internal temperature to avoid gastronomic unpleasantness? This will vary depending on the cut. There are three simple ways to check your chicken is correctly cooked:
- Slice the chicken with a knife, cut into the chicken's middle and make sure the flesh is white and not pink. This isn't a 100% accurate method, but it will give a fair approximation.
- Use a wooden skewer to pierce the chunkiest part of the chicken with the skewer and remove it. If the skewer is pink it signifies blood, which means the chicken is not fully cooked.
- Using a meat thermometer is the best and most rigorous strategy. Simply insert your thermometer into the centre of the thickest part of your cut as it cooks. If it is 75°C or hotter then it is safe to eat. Peter Bouchier recommends always using a meat thermometer.
What are some popular chicken dishes?
The culinary scope of chicken is truly impressive. It is simultaneously the foundation of haute cuisine, a staple of home cooking and a soul food par excellence. Here are just a few of the many chicken dishes popular across the world:
- Chicken parmigiana is a perennial favourite in Australia's pubs, though there is fierce debate about whether to call it a parmie or a parma. Peter Bouchier is Switzerland on the matter.
- Chicken Kiev, despite taking the name of the Ukrainian capital, was actually invented by a Russian chef. The world loved his invention and now you can find Kiev chicken any place people have eyes and a mouth.
- Chicken schnitzel is a variation on the veal and pork schnitzel which originated in Austria, and is now found all around the globe. Schnitzel chicken will have you singing in your sleep.
- Chicken satay skewers are an Indonesian innovation involving cubed chicken breast dressed with a peanut satay sauce then skewered and grilled. Absolutely superb and a hit at a barbecue.
- Chicken cut into strips for chicken stir fry is ubiquitous throughout Southeast Asia. Perfect for when you need to prepare a meal quickly.
What are good side dishes to serve up with chicken?
Chicken has a mild flavour foundation so how you cook it will determine appropriate side dishes. In short, chicken will go with just about anything. The only real limit is your imagination and daring. Our favourite tried and true pairings include:
- Honey-glazed carrots
- Oven-roasted rosemary potatoes
- Steamed broccoli with ginger
- Pan-roasted asparagus
- Risotto with mushroom and peas
- Sweet potato fries
- Butternut squash with mustard seeds
- Tomato and eggplant stew
What pairs well with chicken?
A guiding principle is that chicken, as a white meat, pairs most elegantly with white wine, from a sauvignon blanc or Chardonnay through to a Champagne or English sparkling wine. Despite this, certain occasions can warrant a playful pairing with a red. We always suggest a pinot noir as your red of choice, since its light and fruity cadence will not overpower the bird the way a heavier drop might. In a pinch, rosé is another companion you might consider, especially with grilled chicken and other lighter preparations.
Beyond wine, other alcohol can harmonise with chicken too. Every pub-goer would be familiar with the pleasure of combining a crisp chilled beer with a schnitzel or parmigiana chicken. Spirit lovers are also welcome to couple darker spirits such as bourbon and whisky with fried chicken or chicken steak.
Where can I source the best chicken?
The best chicken is sourced through the best butchers. In turn, the professionals who raise your chicken must be devoted to calibre, sustainability and welfare. From the farm gate to your plate, only the best will do. For this reason Peter Bouchier exclusively uses FREPA-accredited free range chicken, and we honour exacting standards in size and quality.