It is frustrating when you have prepared so much, but unfortunately, you have served a raw chicken to your family dinner while everyone else is thrilled to eat. As the one who always cooks for the family, you should know how to tell if the chicken is done.
Techniques on how to quickly tell if a chicken is done
Chicken and steak are totally different from each other. Most people prefer a rare steak that can be eaten and is still considered safe. However, that is not the case for chickens. Chicken cannot be cooked raw as it contains a lot of bacteria. The sole purpose of thoroughly cooking a chicken is to kill those bacteria that can cause sickness to whoever has eaten a raw one. Not thoroughly cooking the chicken might lead to severe food poisoning, which we believe no one wants to happen, right?
The ability to know how to cook a chicken is not just for professionals. It should also be learned by anyone, especially if you are the assigned cook at your home. Learning how to tell if a chicken is done can be considered a life advantage indeed.
One thing that you should notice if your chicken is undone is that if there is still blood or it is still somehow pinky. The chicken meat turns white when it is done.
Listed below are more specific ways on how to tell if a chicken is done well:
1. Make use of a food thermometer
Most people who love to cook use their instinct when they are doing what they are best at. This means most of them do not have a kitchen thermometer. However, one of the most effective and easiest ways to figure out whether your chicken is done or not is by using a food thermometer. Purchasing a food thermometer is a reliable investment, and you can make good use of it in the long run.
You can detect up to what extent your chicken is being done, and the recommended temperature is at a range of 165 degrees to 185 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the chicken part, size, or way you are cooking. When checking the temperature, make sure that the thermometer is being placed at the center of the gravity of the chicken’s body.
A single-piece design thermometer and the digital design thermometer are the two common types of thermometers being sold today. Both thermometer types do their jobs very well, but the digital ones are the most recommended and widely used among many.
You need to avoid getting an inaccurate reading. Therefore, avoid placing the probe adjacent to the bone because chicken bones promptly transmit the heat. You have to stick the probe into the breast, which is the thickest part of the chicken meat.
Watch the video to learn more about proper cooking temperature for meat
2. A shrunken chicken is done
Like any other meat such as pork, beef, and alike, chicken meat also shrinks when cooked. When it has not shrunk yet, the chances of it being undone are still high. To consider a chicken well-done, the shrinkage is from 10 up to 25 percent only of the original meat size. However, if the chicken turns out half of its original size, your chicken is overcooked.
A shrunken chicken is also a good indication that it is done. This is an easy task, especially for those who just started cooking and are unaware of how to distinguish whether the chicken is done or not.
3. Look through the meat
Piercing through the meat is one good way to check the color of the flesh, but it is also better if you do this both with a fork and knife. While doing so, try to look at it with appropriate lighting to see the actual color of the meat. With this, it will help you come up with the correct judgment.
4. Check the texture
One way to determine if a chicken is done is through its texture. Its texture tends to be firm that makes you drool when it is cooked well. Make sure to find balance when trying to cook a chicken; because it does not look appetizing when overcooked.
5. Press the chicken meat
One method to check the rawness of any meat is by doing the finger test. Meat loses moisture while being cooked, which means its muscle fibers contract while being cooked. You can press on the meat to check the level of its firmness.
It is one good indication and is done by pressing on the meat. And for your reference, you must press your thumb to your middle finger with a relaxed hand and feel the approximate firmness. Afterward, you can do the same with the meat to make a comparison. However, this technique works well with thin slices of chicken.
Watch the video by Chef Susan to learn more on how to tell if the chicken is done
How to check if the chicken is done without a food thermometer
1. Pinkish chicken is still not safe
The color of the chicken meat is also a good indication if it is done or not. Well-done poultry meat turns into white all the way through when you cut it out. There will not be any traces of blood that makes it look pink.
If you can still see the slightest pink shade near the bones of the chicken, then it suggests that the poultry has not yet reached its peak of being cooked. The blood on the bones is yet to be cooked well. But, it is not always the case because there are times that pink meat does not necessarily mean that there are residues of blood.
According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, some chicken meat that is pinkish in color may be caused by the hemoglobin found in tissues that makes it form a thermally stable color.
2. Check the juices
If a food thermometer is not available, then check if the chicken is well-done by checking its juices. You will need a knife to pierce through the meat and once juice comes out of it, notice if there are stains of blood. If everything else is all clear, then that can confirm that your chicken is done.
3. Cooking time is necessary
Another method to ensure that your chicken is done well is to focus on its cooking time at the correct temperature. Cooking the chicken long enough is one of the safest things to do, but you have to ensure that you are doing it with the right temperature that varies depending on the size and how you want it cooked; grilled, boiled, or roasted. Make sure that you do not cook it less than the time the recipe requires you to.
Can you be food poisoned with raw chicken?
It may be unfamiliar to some people, but do you know that eating raw chicken can result in severe food poisoning? You must always ensure that the chicken is done before eating it.
The sole reason chickens have to be cooked well is to kill the bacterias that can cause food poisoning, and one of the bacterias that chicken attracts the most is salmonella. Apart from salmonella, the other bacterias found in chickens are Campylobacter, Clostridium Perfringens, and E. Coli.
If you do not feel okay after eating undone chicken, then most likely you are food poisoned. You may experience unpleasant signs and symptoms of food poisoning such as diarrhea, headache, vomiting, nausea, fever, and alike then it is necessary to get urgent medical help. This is to avoid a more serious health problem that you may encounter.
First-aid treatment for food poisoning
The effect of food poisoning also varies for people, just like any other illness. Some people are at a higher risk when food is poisoned and might need antibiotics to treat themselves. This ranges from infants under five years old and elders past the age of 65 years old. Women that are pregnant and people who have low immunity are part of the high risk.
When you are, food poisoned and only experience vomiting and regular diarrhea, make sure to drink plenty of water, diluted fruit juice, or any fluids to keep you hydrated. But if symptoms persist, then immediately consult a professional, especially when you start experiencing bloody diarrhea.
Watch to learn more about first aid and food poisoning
Make sure that you serve and eat a well-done chicken to avoid any health problems that may arise. A chicken that is not yet done still contains bacterias that can cause food poisoning. Learning how to tell if the chicken is done will be your lifetime advantage, which will come in handy one day.
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken Scratch.