Want to learn how to season chicken with delicious Caribbean flavors? Follow my simple guide and a few flavor suggestions.
Before we start, let’s talk about the elephant in the room.
Should You Wash Raw Chicken?
The UK National Health Service says no… never!
According to a recent NHS article:
“Washing raw chicken before cooking can increase your risk of food poisoning from campylobacter bacteria. Splashing water from washing chicken under a tap can spread the bacteria onto hands, work surfaces, clothing, and cooking equipment … Only a few campylobacter cells are needed to cause food poisoning.”
The USFDA is a bit more ambiguous.
It recommends a few options to prevent illness:
- Prepare raw foods like salads and fresh sides before handling raw chicken.
- Clean and sanitize work stations, sinks, faucets and other contact surfaces after handling the raw meat.
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds immediately after to prevent cross-contamination.
- Cook chicken to the recommended internal temperature (165°F).
The FDA went on to note:
“Washing or rinsing raw meat and poultry can increase your risk as bacteria spreads around your kitchen, but not washing your hands for 20 seconds immediately after handling those raw foods is just as dangerous.”
So should you wash chicken? The decision is yours to make.
What I do
Disclaimer: I am not advocating or recommending my way to preparing raw chicken. I’m just sharing what I do… (please don’t get food poisoning!!!)
First up, I prepare the kitchen.
My kitchen sink is in a corner spot with a dish rack next to it. Usually, I move the rack to the other end of the kitchen so there is nothing else in the corner spot. Then, I clean the sink.
Next, I make Caribbean green seasoning; more on that in a bit.
Once that’s done, hubby and I purchase raw chicken from two places – typically on the same day (batch prepping for the win!).
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are bought at a big box store (it’s like Costco) and whole chickens are purchased from a poultry shop, where they kill, defeather, clean, and (if you ask) cut up the birds on the spot.
At home, we place the raw meat in large bowls and wash the pieces with plain water first and then with lime or lemon juice. We also remove and discard fat, skin and unwanted bits.
Next, we mix in flour to coat the chicken before washing the raw meat one last time.
The citrus juice and flour remove any ‘fresh’ scent or taste from the meat.
How to Season Chicken
I just mentioned Caribbean green seasoning. It is made by blending garlic, culantro leaves and sometimes pepper.
But you can add Mexican mint (Spanish thyme), ginger, cilantro and any other herbs you fancy. Think of it like the Caribbean’s version of pesto seasoning. It is absolutely delicious!
See what culantro looks like in What’s in my garden (Feb 2020). If you can’t get your hands on culantro, use parsley and cilantro instead.
Add a couple tablespoons of the seasoning to the chicken – enough to coat the meat. Also, add one to two teaspoons of salt too.
Look at that fresh, healthy seasoning!
Mix everything until the meat is completely coated with the seasoning.
At this point you can mix in other spices and sauces. I’ve added masala, coriander and turmeric powder on occasion. Hubby loves adding tablespoons of jerk seasoning. Fresh, grated ginger is also nice too.
Diced onions, chives, thyme, chopped pimento or scotch bonnet peppers, chopped tomatoes, ketchup, BBQ sauce and pepper sauce can also be added to season the poultry.
This one with salt and Caribbean green seasoning is so simple – it’s my go-to method for seasoning raw chicken.
Anyway, once everything is mixed, I place the chicken in large zip lock plastic bags, lay them flat on the counter and spread the pieces around so they stay separate. Then, they go into the freezer.
Keeping them flat and separate is important. When frozen, it’s easy to remove one piece at a time without defrosting the contents of the entire bag.
So that’s how to season chicken – Caribbean style. Or at least, that’s the bare minimum.
Back to the issue of handling raw chicken.
After placing the chicken in the freezer bags, I wash my hands properly (the CDC says 20 seconds is good enough to kill germs) before touching the freezer door handle and popping the bags (flat) in there. Hands are washed again.
Then, with a separate scrubbing pad, I’ll clean the kitchen sink, faucet, and countertops with dish soap. Usually, I’ll leave the soap for a minute before wiping off.
After, I like to use a second disinfectant like Lysol on the counters and sink. Bleach goes into the sink to prevent smells from the drain pipe.
The dish rack goes back to its original place and the sink is left dry for a couple hours.
It sounds like a long process… but we only prepare and season chicken every two months or so. That’s batch prepping for ya!
How do you season your chicken? Where do you fall on the debate of washing versus not washing your raw meat? I’d love to hear your thoughts!