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6 ways to cook chooks

6 ways to cook chooks

There's no better crowd-pleaser than chicken – extend your usual repertoire and try out some new ideas!

Butterflied Chicken

Also known as spatchcock chicken, this whole bird has been cut down the backbone to open up at. It cooks through in much less time, which makes it the perfect thing to slap on the barbecue, or for a weeknight roast, ready in 30 mins. Grab some flatbreads and salad and you have a simple, tasty meal everyone will love.

Bone-In Whole

There are so many ways to pep up a roast bird: pop a lemon or orange into the cavity, sit the bird on branches of rosemary, cut slits in the skin and stuff with truffled butter or garlic. Try brining a bird or baking in salt for extra-tender, well- seasoned flesh. For a Middle Eastern take, poach whole then slice meat into pieces and fry the meat in lots of butter with onions, garlic, baharat spice, and sultanas then serve on turmeric rice or moghrabieh.

Chicken Thigh

With darker meat and more connective tissue, thigh is beautifully moist with more flavour than breast. Boneless, it's the top pick to slice into bite-sized pieces for curries and stir-fries, or marinate for katsu or teppanyaki, or barbecue skewers. Use bone-in thighs in casseroles and tagines, and in Mediterranean-style tray bakes with whole olives, baby potatoes, and sliced lemon.

Breast

Breast will overcook and go stringy if you let it, but you can easily avoid that by marinating it overnight, to lock in moisture and flavour, and cooking just until juices run clear. Another way to keep breast beautifully tender is to poach it. For European dishes, add some lemon zest or herbs like thyme and rosemary to the water, for Asian dishes try the likes of star anise, galangal or lemongrass, or for a Middle Eastern spin, use coriander seeds and cinnamon quills. Poached breast is a lovely ingredient in summery dishes: in a salad with halved green grapes, witloof or cos hearts, toasted walnuts and a ranch dressing, in Vietnamese summer rolls or piled into warmed pita bread with Greek salad and tzatziki.

Drums

Marinate or season well to add flavour. Dry rubs will yield a crispy skin, while fans of sticky endings will want to add a little honey or maple syrup to a marinade before baking or grilling on the barbecue.

Livers

An excellent source of vitamins and minerals, livers can be added for a nutrient and flavour boost to dishes as wide-ranging as Bolognese ragu and Thai larb salad, plus they're essential to pâté. The trick is not to overcook them. They should be quickly seared so the centre remains blush pink.