Chicken: A Most Versatile Main Dish

If you go to a restaurant, any restaurant, and look at the menu, you will notice that the majority of the dishes that are offered contain chicken. From sandwiches to pasta dishes and soups to salads, chicken really is one of the most widely used ingredients. Why? Well, for one thing, it is so versatile. For another thing, it is easy to acquire, reasonably priced and fairly easy to work with.

Here, we examine the many wonderful uses of chicken, as well as how to properly handle and cook the meat.

Why is Chicken so Versatile

Good ahead and pull out a cookbook, or just think in your head about all of the dishes that you have made or eaten. I bet a great deal of the recipes that you find or think of contain chicken in some form. Chicken salad, chicken marsala, barbecue chicken, chicken tacos and fajitas, chicken fried rice, chicken fried chicken, chicken and waffles, chicken gyros; quite literally this meat is used across cultures and can be made in a wide variety of ways.

But, why is it so versatile? What is it about chicken that makes it such a widely used ingredient. The key is because it is so mild. Chicken is one of the mildest flavored meats, which means that it can be adapted and it easily takes on the flavor of whatever it is cooked with. Sure, there are other types of meats that taste great and that offer just as many health benefits; however, they typically tend to have their own unique flavor. Try cooking a lamb taco or a beef marsala and you will notice that the dish takes on quite a different flavor than it does when it is cooked with chicken. Chicken adds meatiness, yet doesn’t hinder the natural flavors of all of the ingredients that are used within a dish; hence the reason why chicken is so versatile.

Inexpensive and Easily Accessible

chickensAnother reason why chicken is such a widely used meat is because it is relatively inexpensive and it is easy to get. Go to a supermarket and compare the price of chicken to beef, lamp, goat, pork or any other type of meat. You will likely notice that there is a definite price difference between chicken and all of the other meats; and that difference is usually that chicken is far less expensive. In tough economic times, and even when money isn’t tight, it is always nice to be able to buy a substantial and nutritious food that doesn’t break the bank.

Chicken is also very easy to get. It is so widely produced that a shortage is a very rare thing. When you go to a butcher, you may find that they are out of veil chops, but it is a pretty safe bet that they won’t be out of chicken breasts.

Being that chicken is so easy to get and is so cost effective, it stands to reason why this meat is so commonly used.

Proper Handling

While this meat is so often used, there are safety hazardous that come along with it. Raw chicken is known to carry diseases like salmonella and other bacteria. These illnesses and bacteria can cause serious health problems if a person comes into contact with them. This does not mean that you should avoid cooking with chicken in order to avoid contracting an illness; it simply means that you should exercise caution when preparing and cooking it.

Proper Thawing

If you are working with frozen chicken, you will need to defrost it before you can cook it. There are proper ways to defrost it in order to avoid being subjected to potentially harmful bacteria:

* Do not thaw frozen chicken in the open, as this can cause potential bacteria to spread.

* Make sure chicken is in a sealed package.

* To properly thaw, place it on a dish and set it in the refrigerator. This will allow the chicken to thaw without spreading the germs.

* You can defrost it in a cold water. Simply leave the meat in the package it came in, or in another air-tight package and submerge it in cold water.

* You can also thaw it in the microwave, but make sure to exercise caution, as you don’t want to cook the chicken while thawing it this way.

Proper Cooking

Make sure to cook the meat all the way through in order to kill off any potential bacteria. There should be no pink remaining in the meat.

Proper Cleaning

After you work with chicken, make sure that you thoroughly clean any surfaces that the raw meat came into contact with. Spray down counters with cleansers, thoroughly wash dishes with hot water and dish soap and wash your hands well.

Chicken is, no doubt, the most widely used meat. What types of chicken dishes are your favorite?


This article was written by Jamie Pekar
The original ‘Chicken’ image is by Tim Green



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