There are so many ways to use chicken, depending on what cut you’re working with. And when I say there are so many uses, I mean SO MANY. So, here are all of The Best Uses for Different Cuts of Chicken!
Think about it, can you even come up with another edible animal that is as versatile as chickens are? I sure can’t!
Just off the top of my head, you can roast it, poach it, fry it, smoke it, stew it, grill it, dry it, and bake it. Again, that’s just off the top of my head so there’s probably a lot more that I’m missing.
My favorite thing about chicken is that it works really well with so many different flavors. That and it’s usually cheaper than the majority of other meats.
MORE CHICKEN BASICS YOU MIGHT LIKE
The anatomy of a chicken comes down to these:
- Breast meat – Can go dry *just like that*
- Wings – Can burn and become too crispy (yes, there is such a thing as TOO crispy of wings)
- Thighs & Drumsticks – Can get too chewy
- Giblets & the Carcass – Most people just throw away
All of them have their ideal cooking technique that will allow them to thrive.
If you’re set on roasting the whole bird, ChefSteps has a solution. They show you how to truss a chicken so everything cooks evenly.
For most other recipes, you’re going to want to chop that bird up since different cuts of chicken will have different advantages.
Breasts (White Meat)
I’d definitely say that this is one of the most popular cuts. However, it can get a little boring because it’s so popular, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious and juicy!
- Perfect For: Grilling, stir-frying, sous vide, poaching and steaming.
- Cooking Hack: If you want a crispy crust but you don’t want to overcook it, you can treat it like steak. Heston Blumenthal’s technique has inspired many people to change the way they cook meat at home.
- Flavor Pairing: I like a classic lemon, garlic, and thyme trio. But you could season it with whatever your heart desires!
- Extra Tip: If you leave the bone in, it’ll add to the cooking time, but it’ll be packed with so much more flavor.
Most chefs would tell you this is their favorite chicken cut. Thighs are generally a little darker and firmer than breasts but can do just about anything breasts can!
- Perfect For: Just about everything – specifically for stews and braises!
- Cooking Hack: Salt brines and acidic marinades tenderize meat enough for all quick cooking methods (i.e. grilling or stir-frying). Slow cooking and stewing work better with thighs rather than breasts.
- Flavor Pairing: There is so much flavor in this cut of meat it will be able to handle anything and everything you throw at it, so go bold!
- Extra Tip: These are great for pet treats! You don’t have to do anything too special to them just take out the bone (choking hazard), cut them up and throw into the oven.
Trust me when I say you could have wings at home all the time, since these guys don’t take a whole lot of work.
- Perfect For: Buffalo wings! I might be a little biased on this one but they’re definitely a fan favorite.
- Cooking Hack: You can cook your wings sous vide, in a pressure cooker or steam them. Or, if you’re comfortable doing so, fry them!
- Flavor Pairing: I personally love a good hot sauce or BBQ sauce but you could also do something like a garlic parmesan flavor.
- Extra Tip: It’s said that wings are good for making chicken demi-glace. There’s a lot of collagen in wings that will solidify into a jelly. To make the stock, you can use your favorite methods and recipes that you would normally use with a carcass. Then strain the stock and reduce it on medium heat.
These have a little bit less meat on them, but the bone allows you to play a bit rougher.
- Perfect For: Frying, grilling and slow cooking. These are also perfect for a platter of chicken wings for a party – having both drums and flats.
- Cooking Hack: For extra crispy skin and mouthwatering juicy meat, roast or grill these guys low and slow, with as little extra fat as possible.
- Flavor Pairing: A copycat of KFC’s 11 herbs and spices! Didn’t you know that the recipe is not so secret anymore. Or treat them as wings and smother them in a buffalo sauce.
- Extra Tip: If you’re slow cooking thighs, you can add the drumsticks as well. The bone will give more flavor to the sauce.
It’s only recently that we stopped eating this part of the chicken.
- Perfect For: Stews and pâtés. Surprisingly, pâtés are super easy to make at home.
- Cooking Hack: Since these are organs, and organs are muscles, they can turn tough in a second. Your Crockpot or a sous-vide circulator are your best friends here.
- Flavor Pairing: Salt and pepper! Better yet, make a giblet gravy!
- Extra Tip: Your dog can also have these! They’re full of all kinds of nutrients for your furry little friend, and they’ll LOVE them. Just make sure you remove the neck and fully cook them.
If you are buying and roasting a whole bird, DO NOT throw the carcass away.
- Perfect For: Chicken stock! The best part is that you can use both raw carcasses and ones leftover from roasted birds.
- Cooking Hack: if you boil the carcass before cooking you can get rid of a lot of impurities so you won’t have to skim them throughout the cooking.
- Flavor Pairing: All you need is celery, onions, and carrots!
- Extra Tip: Based on future uses, pick if you’re going to roast the carcass before cooking or not. Unroasted/light stock is milder in flavor, while the roasted/dark stock is meatier.