Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by a chicken breast. If you’re me, you should just wave your hands in the air. Because seriously on top of chicken tending to be hard to cook it’s also really hard to understand how to safely cook a chicken breast. I don’t know what it is about cooking chicken. I do know that it’s taken me 22 years to get it right. So for those of you who struggle with how to cook a chicken breast safely – this is for you. Believe me, I spent a solid month of my childhood thinking that consuming Salmonella from chicken was a game of Russian Roulette. Literally, I had no concept that as long as chicken was handled correctly that it wasn’t going to hurt me. So I understand the fear, but I’m here to tell you that you shouldn’t let it get the best of you. You can learn to safely cook a chicken breast.
A lot of people don’t realize that this process starts far before you actually pull out your chicken out of the fridge at home. But if you’re proactive you can confidently cook a chicken breast and put those rumors to bed.
How to Safely Cook a Chicken Breast
If you’re wondering how to safely cook a chicken breast it all starts at the grocery store. When you’re making your grocery list, try to place all of your perishable refrigerated ingredients last. As in you’re going to place them in your cart last. This so they are out of refrigeration for the least amount of time humanly possible.
Before you place it in your cart put your chicken breast package into the plastic sleeve bag provided near the meat aisle. This helps to prevent any of the chicken juices from migrating from the packaging to any of your other foods. Because especially when you have ready to eat foods in the cart as well this could be harmful. Place your chicken breast package in the bottom of the cart in an area with other raw items to prevent any potential cross contamination.
Preventing Food Waste
As soon as you get home refrigerate them immediately and be sure to use them within two days. When choosing a spot in your refrigerator you shouldn’t place them above any other ready to eat products. Just in case you have any fluids drip from the package this keeps ready to eat stuff like your produce safe. If you choose to freeze them then wrap the package in another plastic bag, plastic wrap or even aluminum foil as the material used in store is porous. This prevents freezer burn.
Thawing Frozen Chicken Breasts
If you choose to freeze your chicken breasts please for the love of all things holy do not thaw them on the counter. I know your mom did and you didn’t die. That’s great. This is even better. There are three ways you can thaw frozen chicken breasts safely. The first way is to submerge them in an airtight bag in a bowl of cold water. You must change this water every 30 minutes. Every pound of chicken will take an hour or a little less max. You can also thaw it in the refrigerator over the span of 1-2 days. You can also thaw it in the microwave. Regardless of how you thaw your chicken breast it is important to cook them immediately after.
Protecting Ready to Eat Foods
It doesn’t seem like rocket science to separate all cutting boards, bowls, plates, utensils, etc. that have touched your raw chicken breasts from use for any foods that are ready to eat. You should. This prevents anyone from getting sick if you follow all the recommendations regarding how to safely cook a chicken breast. After you have determined what has touched raw chicken you need to clean up after it efficiently through hot soapy water first and then sanitizing. I know the kitchen always stunk of bleach after mom cooked with chicken, but it did the trick. You actually only need 1 Tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water, but it does need to stand for about 10 minutes.
Cooking to the Proper Internal Temperature
I’m going to say this once. This is literally the EASIEST part of how to safely cook a chicken breast. Please buy yourself a thermometer for cooking. You must cook chicken to 165 degrees Fahrenheit internally to do so safely. When you’re taking the temperature, insert it into the fattest part of the chicken breast (avoiding any bones) to do so accurately.
If you do all of these things you shouldn’t have any problem learning how to safely cook a chicken breast. Have any more food safety pondering like nitrates in meat or what’s really in your hot dogs don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
What are some of your biggest struggles in the kitchen?
Thanks for reading!