For most people, the food most abused in a cookout is chicken. You can try scraping off that bitter, black coating, but its flavor and aroma (what chefs call “Eau de ashtray”) flavor the meat.

Sometimes things go wrong. We all have the occasional “off” days. That goes for Chefs, too; although they are professional food experts, you must see that occasionally not everything is perfect. Part of mastering the arts of cooking and baking comes from making errors. The key to any “failed” attempt is how you react and what you do about it. You could have easily cried over those chickens, tossed up your hands, and said dinner was ruined. However, that was not an option in your mind. It is a matter of keeping calm and being creative to save the meal.

           Below are the three essential tips to save your supposed-to-be perfectly cooked chicken.

Essential Tips To Save Your Chicken

Burning a dish (chicken or not) is an unfortunate incident, but it does happen, even to the best of cooks. There is no chagrin when this happens. At least now, with these tips, you can salvage what you can and save a meal that might have been completely ruined.

           Roasted Chicken. If the skin is not salvageable, peel it off and look at the meat to see if it is fully cooked. If it is, then it may be ready to serve. Should it be slightly on the dry side, add a little moisture and flavor. Take some fresh herbs from your garden and melt butter with lemon juice to make a savory lemon herb butter sauce. Put this over the top and serve some on the side. Dinner will be saved, and everyone will eat well.

           Chicken Stew or Soup. It is easy to make chicken soup, from simmering to smoldering. A compilation of recipes by Eleanor Gaccetta, features some chicken dishes. The solids (chunks of vegetables and possibly meat) can fall to the bottom and burn if the heat is extremely high and you walk away for a few minutes without stirring the pot. If this has happened, here is what not to do: scrape up whatever burnt foods have stuck to the bottom; they will help spread the burnt flavor throughout the dish. Instead, please turn off the heat. Then carefully ladle as much soup as possible into another vessel, avoiding any ingredients.

 that may have adhered to the pot itself. Then, assess: if what you are left with still has charred tastes, try to offset the bitterness by adding a bit of sugar, honey, or even caramelized onions. (Take note: the lift-out-what-you-can strategy also works for rice and chili.) Also, you can add in a raw potato to absorb the burnt taste. Set it aside for about fifteen minutes before removing the potato again.  If it still tastes burnt, toss it and start over again you cannot salvage this meal.

           Chicken Steak. When you think you have overcooked the outside of a chicken steak, the first thing to remember is that a bit of char can be acceptable. This is called the “Maillard reaction,” which gives the meat a brownish color and flavor. Suppose you have gone too far, though, and it is black to the edges. In that case, it is recommended to take the protein off the heat, cut away the overly crisped exterior and cook it at a lower temperature (if the meat is not already done).

           Fried Chicken. If it is a burnt fried chicken, you remove the burnt coating. You can then re-bread your chicken and cook it only until the outside is golden brown if it is already cooked through. In addition, the key is to maintain that temperature between 300˚ to 325˚ as you re-fry the chicken. This temperature range will cook the chicken without burning the crust. When you add the flour-coated chicken to the pan, make sure it is skin-side down. This will help the fat render so that you will not end up with flabby skin.  Ensure there is sufficient oil in the pan before frying and that it is at 375 degrees to cook quickly and evenly.

           BBQ or Grilled Chicken. For a burnt BBQ or grilled chicken, put a little bit of barbecue sauce on the meat and return it to the still-warm but do not turn on the oven for about ten minutes, and dinner is salvaged! Vinegar: After burning a batch of chicken breasts or drumsticks, add about two tablespoons of vinegar to the entire set, and it is once again edible and tasty.  One trick is to arrange raw chicken in a microwave safe dish and microwave for about 6 minutes.  That will heat the chicken internally to lessen the time on the grill where it is burned easily.  Once the chicken is on the grill, add barbecue sauce and cook.

Next time you are hosting friends or family gatherings, remember cooking disasters do occur.  Continue with a creative and positive attitude, you will make it better than before and have fun remembrances to share for years to come.

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