Mistake 1: Washing your chicken
Rinsing your chicken is completely unnecessary, especially when cooking a whole bird. You are most likely spraying water loaded with bacteria all over your kitchen counter near your sink where it will sit and multiply. Rather, wash all the surfaces, plates and hands after you have processed the raw chicken.
Mistake 2: Defrosting it on the counter or in the microwave
These methods will encourage bacteria to grow. Poultry shouldn't be sitting in temperature that is considered to be within the 'danger zone'. Bacteria will grow rapidly in temperatures of 40 to 140 degrees, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. Placing chicken in the microwave is simply encouraging bacteria growth. Best and safest method would be to thaw it in the fridge a day before cooking it. Once thawed, it shouldn't be re-freezed.
Mistake 3: Not patting it dry before cooking
Whether you are searing, roasting or grilling your chicken, you should always pat it dry with a paper towel. This prevents the chicken from steaming while cooking. If it's not dry it will release more moisture throughout the cooking process. This will create a crispier, tastier chicken with the right amount of moisture.
Mistake 4: Using a timer to determine when it's done
Rather than using a timer, grab a thermometer. Chicken tends to vary in size and shape so there is no set time for it to cook. To ensure that you chicken is safely cooked, a piece of boneless chicken breast is safely cooked at 165 to 170 degrees internal. Bone-in chicken should be cooked at least to 180 to 185 degrees internally. This ensures that the bone marrow is cooked through preventing an undercooked appearance. Anything below these temperatures will result in an undercooked meal.
Mistake 5: Cutting into it to see if it's done
Understandably, most people cut into the chicken to see if it is done. However, cutting into the chicken allows the juices to run out leaving you with a dry piece of chicken as opposed to a dish that is moist and flavorful. Rather, invest in a meat thermometer.
Mistake 6: Storing it anywhere it can fit in the fridge
Chicken should be stored on the lowest shelf possible because cold air sinks and is, therefore, the safest place for storage. Storing it properly will help prevent cross-contamination and the growth of bacteria. You'll want to make sure it's wrapped up tightly to avoid any drips of thawing byproduct.
Mistake 7: Only cooking chicken breast
When trying to stay healthy, most people resort to chicken breast. But, eating other parts of the chicken can be healthy too. Dark meat chicken is still lean and if it's not deep-fried it stays moist. It also contains more iron and zinc than white chicken meat.
Mistake 8: Not testing the pan before searing
To get a good sear, you need to pre-heat your pan. To check if it is heated enough, sprinkle the surface with some water. If it sizzles and evaporates immediately then it is hot enough for searing. This is especially important if cooking breasts or thighs with the skin. The skin will never become golden brown or crispy without starting a hot pan.