How to Dress a Chicken for Cooking

raw meat. Whole raw chicken on black stone with tomato

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The lean source of protein and delicious flavor of chicken makes it a top meat source consumed by Americans, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But before you can enjoy your favorite chicken dinner, you must dress and clean the meat to ensure all bacteria or foodborne illnesses are eliminated.

Sanitize all cooking surfaces, utensils and hands with soap and hot water before handling raw chicken. You should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds to eliminate any bacteria.

Avoid cross-contamination by keeping the chicken and its juices separate from other food. Use a specific cutting board and utensils while dressing a chicken.

Remove the entrails from the cavity of the chicken with your hands. You may need to make a small cut between the thighs to enter the cavity. Some people choose to save the giblets -- kidney, heart and gizzard -- to add into soups or gravy.

Cut the neck and tail area off and discard any excess fat.

Rinse the entire chicken, inside and out, under cold water. Washing the chicken doesn’t destroy any bacteria but it helps to remove any excess blood, fat or feathers.

Dry the chicken with paper towels before seasoning. This process helps to produce a brown, crispy skin.

Refrigerate or cook the chicken immediately after dressing. Leaving the raw meat at room temperature promotes bacterial growth.