Sunday, 7 December 2008 | Tags:

Flavourful and low in fat, chicken is the versatile centrepiece of limitless dishes, and good source of daily protein. It can be roasted, baked, sauteed, broiled, grilled, stir-fried or poached, and combined with a wide range of herbs and spices. We find out more about buying chicken for a delicious and nutritious meal.

The Basics

  • Chicken is full of protein, selenium, niacin and B6 vitamins.

  • Chicken breasts are a very versatile cut of chicken, and are very low in fat: only 1 to 2 grams of fat per serving.

  • When it comes to overall color, the skin may be yellow or white. Colour has to do with what the bird was fed (corn makes it yellow, other grains make it white), but nothing to do with whether it’s free-range or commercial.

  • To ensure a chicken breast is as fresh as possible, look for a little pinkness in colour.

  • When shopping for fresh chicken, look for plump, moist parts in secure, unbroken packaging.

  • If purchasing chicken with the skin still on, make sure it is creamy white or yellow in colour. The skin should never appear gray, pasty, patchy, or somewhat transparent.

  • The colour of skin is determined by the breed of chicken and the food they consume, and does not have any bearing on tenderness or taste.

  • One pound of raw boneless, skinless chicken will feed approximately four people.

  • Ensure that the package has either a “best before” date or a “sell-by” date printed on it.

    • The sell-by is set to 7-10 days after the chicken is slaughtered. It’s the last day the product should be sold.

  • If properly refrigerated, chicken will remain fresh up to 3 days after the sell-by date. Freeze it if you’re not planning to use it within that time.

  • Consider buying free-range organic chickens that have been fed only organic grains and have never been given medications or drugs. Organic chicken costs more, but many people think the difference taste is remarkable.

    • Organic regulations state that animals will not have been fed antibiotics, hormones, or other medications. Certified organic animals must be fed organic feed, meaning no pesticide residues on crops and thus, none in the meat.
    • Free-range chicken meat is believed to be leaner since birds are allowed to interact with their environment in a more natural setting, developing more muscle, less fat, and an overall well-being.

    • Note: “free-range” is not legally defined in Canada, but it generally means that the birds had access to the outdoors. However, it may only mean they went out a couple of times in their life.

Other Considerations

  • At the grocery store, pack your chicken with the frozen foods to keep it colder on the way home.

  • Chicken should always be cooked completely before eating. Never cook chicken partially and then store it to be finished later, since this promotes bacterial growth.

Be Aware

  • Raw chicken can harbor harmful salmonella bacteria. Cutting boards and knives used with chicken must be washed in hot sudsy water, and hands must be scrubbed thoroughly before and after handling to avoid causing food poisoning.

   Cuts of Chicken

Chicken Livers


  • Chicken livers are typically available at many grocery stores or at your local butcher.

  • Look for those that are shiny in appearance and have a pleasant smell.

  • If you prefer mild flavoured livers, choose the palest meat you can find since the darker the colour, the stronger the flavour.

  • Since the liver is the body’s primary organ for disabling toxic substances, more toxicity is found in the liver than any other body part. Because of this, consider buying organic livers, if possible. This will give you some assurance that the liver you’re ingesting does not have an accumulation of toxins like pesticides, hormones, or antibiotic residues.

  • If purchasing organic isn’t possible, ask your butcher about the age of the chickens the livers came from. Livers from younger chickens will have less accumulation of toxins and be more tender and fresher tasting than those from older birds.

  • Liver is very perishable so should be kept at cold temperatures, either refrigerated or frozen.

  • Refrigerate liver in the original store packaging as this will reduce the amount of handling involved. If the packaging is ripped, cover with plastic wrap.

  • Liver only keeps in the refrigerator for one or two days. If you’re unable to cook it in this timeframe, freeze the liver in a deep freezer, wrapped as tightly as possible in aluminum foil or freezer paper. It should keep this way three to four months.


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