SOS-Is my chicken cooked?

Not too long ago, I finally watched the Avengers. During the movie, my sister texted me a few pictures of her chicken thighs and then called me. I was busy staring at all the beautiful men enjoying the action and whatnot, and so she did the obvious thing and lit up our version of the bat signal, making me think she was dying on the side of the road or something. (I still hadn't seen the text) We’re dramatic, but we’re not wrong.

She didn’t know if the chicken was cooked through and was scared she was going to kill her adorable children if she served it to them. (Before you say ‘why didn’t she just use a thermometer,’ and before I could even say that, she told me hers was broken.)

I often don’t use meat thermometers because I need to replace mine, and whenever I get my meat to the right temp, it’s actually overcooked, so I rely on checking juices for chicken. I also really need a new thermometer. The juices in chicken will run clear when fully cooked. It’s perfectly acceptable to cut a piece of chicken thigh/breast/body part to check the juices. Just poke it with a sharp knife and see what it looks like. If it’s still tinged pink, back in the cooking vessel it goes.

When talking to my sister, I told her how I learned. When I was in college, I hated chicken breasts because they always came out dry. I learned later that I was overcooking them and covered it up with ketchup. That’s my advice to her (and you): cover that bird in sauce. Over cooked? Shred it and let it sit in sauce to soak it up. I do this with red marinara sauce, alfredo, pesto, whatever I can find in my refrigerator.

Alternatively, if you’re concerned it’s under-cooked, braise it! Braising is easy, somewhat foolproof, and impresses. I often under-cook my meat on the first round of browning to braise it later on. Braising involved browning meat and veg, removing it from the pan, adding liquid to the pan to scrape up the fond, and putting everything back in to simmer. Liquid can be wine (chicken masala), stock (like a pot roast), water (literally anything, I use it for pork chops to create a creamy sauce), even sauces like marinara! (my favorite way to cook meatballs!)

tldr: if you don’t know if your bird is cooked, add sauce and simmer.

Nae Schnee