Everything about chicken

CURIOSITIES

Domestication of chicken
Domestication occurred at least 7,400 years ago, in a group from the natural area of the bankiva chicken, which spread in waves both eastward and westward. The first undisputed archaeological remains of domesticated chicken are bones dating to around 5,400 B.C., associated with a site in Chishan, in the Chinese province of Hebei. In the Ganges region, in India, bankiva chicken were used by humans 7,000 years ago.
Conversely, domesticated chicken have not been found over 4,000 years ago in the Indus Valley, although the age of the chickens found in the excavations at Mohenjodaro is still a matter of debate. It is more than likely that the first cocks and chickens reached the west along the Silk Road. Around 2,000 B.C., they reached the Middle East. By 1,500 B.C., chickens had reached Egypt. They immediately spread to the Mediterranean, reaching Greece and Rome. They were brought to the Iberian Peninsula by the Phoenicians. At that time, they were reared for their meat and eggs, as well as a ritual offering in religious ceremonies. From around 600 B.C. onwards, chickens were taken beyond the Alps and spread through the rest of Europe.

Chicken skin
Removing the skin eliminates 130 calories and 15 grams of fat per breast. Although this contains Vitamin B and selenium, nutrients that help to protect our organism from cancer, it is advisable to strip off pieces of skin.

Chicken flight
Unlike other close cousins in the bird family, chickens have lost their ability to fly. The flight record for a chicken is set at around 13 seconds. A little is better than nothing at all.

Friends of the chicken
Aromatic herbs: parsley, sage, rosemary, basil, bay leaf, thyme and marjoram.
Spices: curry, paprika or sweet paprika, pepper, saffron, cumin and cloves. And, needless to say, lemon is the chicken's best friend!
Leaving to stand and salting
Leave the whole chicken to rest for a few minutes before cutting and seasoning prior to serving so that the juices are not lost and the chicken does not dry.
Preservation
A raw chicken should not be kept longer than two days in the refrigerator. If cooked, it can be kept for three or four days.
Freezing
You can keep it frozen for a maximum of 3 months. To thaw out, leave in the refrigerator overnight before cooking to allow it to defreeze slowly. Remove two hours before cooking so that it has time to temper and can be cooked evenly.

TYPES OF PREPARING

Poached
To achieve a delicious, tender meat, try poached chicken.
Heat water in a pot with sufficient water to cover the chicken. Add one onion, peeled carrots, celery and pepper grains. “By poaching it, the taste goes into the broth”, Javier Fontova advises, an instructor at the School of Hotel Management in Aragon. To increase the taste of this dish “aromatized with spices such as bay leaf or rosemary or a drop of white wine”. Bring the water to boiling point, place the chicken pieces in the water and cook for 20 minutes.

Grill
“This is the ideal way of cooking for diets”, Fontova points out.
“For this type of cooking (on a slow flame, as for a barbeque), it is best to use the best parts, such as chicken breast”, he explains. Place the pieces in an ovenproof dish, set the oven to “Grill” and bingo! A healthy garnishing could include grilled greens or side dish of garlics and tender onions. If you prefer a sugar-based marinade (such as the famous barbeque sauce), bear in mind that it burns easily, so cover all the pieces with oil during the last minutes of cooking.

Steam cooking
“With this technique, the meat loses fat while keeping its nutritional properties,” Fontova explained.
Place the chicken on a bamboo or metal grille over boiling water. So that the piece can cook in its own juice thanks to the effect of the steam, place the chicken in the centre of a piece of aluminium foil. Then fold over the ends inwards to avoid any loss of juice. Insert the “packet” into the oven and wait until the meat turns pinkish (calculate about 20 minutes). “To round off this recipe, serve the chicken accompanied by courgettes, mushrooms or green beans”, he suggests.

Roasting
Although roasting at home is done in the oven, professional chefs used a device designed for this type of cooking. “The oven setting and temperature should be the same as in the grill. The trick is for the skin to be crispy, but without being burnt”, Fontova notes. To check for the right amount of cooking, prick the meat: if no blood comes out, it is ready. The best parts are the thighs (approximately 45 minutes) and the wings (around half an hour), because they are the juiciest parts. Accompany them with a mushroom sautée.

It's ready!
Use a special thermometer for meat to ensure that it is just right. Insert about 6 cm into the meatiest part of the chicken and check that the internal temperature is at least 75°C (167°F). For those keen on wise sayings, the traditional method involves inserting a skewer and, firstly, see if it is slightly moist (otherwise, this means that the piece is as dry as a bone). Then, the liquid issued is dark in colour with no traces of blood. If you are cooking quarters, put to one side a little of the leg and thigh from the body in order to ensure that the colour and texture are suitable.

PARTS OF THE CHIKEN

Wings
These are very economical and the best option is to serve them as an aperitif. Fontova suggests, “grill roasting them and accompanying them with chimichurri hot sauce” - an Argentinean sauce with aromatic herbs.

Breast
This is the most versatile cut. Fillets with no fat, deboned and no skin allow for numerous culinary techniques: grilled, fried, stuffed or cooked. One way of cooking them is to sautée them in a paella and accompany them with oven roasted tomato.

Thighs
Thighs can be cut with bone or into fillets. This meat is darker, tastier and is ideal for making brochettes.

Thigh
Whole or in scallop. This is a very juicy meat, ideal for breading, for making brochettes or for taquitos with sauces.

Drumsticks
Chicken drumsticks are from the lower part of the leg below the knee joint. The part best loved by children.