Anne Willan on chicken techniques:
"A person needs to learn a few basic techniques for working with chicken. For instance, removing the tendon from a chicken breast prevents shrinkage and makes the meat tender for serving. Cutting out the wishbone makes a whole bird easier to carve.
"Of course you can buy chicken all cut up into pieces, but if you do it yourself, the pieces will be meaty and of an even size. The bones from trimming can be used for making stock." On butter:
"Butter is essential for the crisp, golden skin [of chicken] but in many other recipes olive oil and flavored nut oils will take its place.
"My recipes, like all traditional French cooking, use butter and salt as standard ingredients. If you're serious about cutting calories and fats - substitute polyunsaturated margarine or mono- or polyunsaturated oils, but the results won't be the same.
"Nonstick cooking spray and a teaspoon or two of oil, preferably in a nonstick skillet, may work for the saute dishes." On salt:
"I don't usually indicate the amount of salt. This should be to your own taste. The herbs and spices I use give fine flavor without adding salt." On handling and cooking chicken:
* Thaw frozen birds completely; bring to room temperature before cooking.
* Wash your hands and all equipment before and after handling raw chicken.
* Cook chicken thoroughly for best flavor. Pieces should fall easily from a two-pronged fork and the juice running from the thigh should be clear. To test a chicken for doneness, lift it up and tip it so the juices run from the cavity. They should be clear not pink.
* There's really no way to reheat a roast chicken satisfactorily. However, the bird can be kept warm at least 30 minutes by wrapping it loosely in foil as soon as it comes from the oven. On preparing cooked chicken meat:
With a whole, cooked chicken, grasp rib cage with one hand and meaty part of thigh with other to remove leg. Using chef's knife, cut down between leg and body joints. Twist leg sharply outward to break joint, then cut through it and pull leg from body.
Repeat with other leg. Slit along one side of breastbone and loosen meat in 1 piece, using fingers and knife point. Repeat.
With fingers, pull away wishbone and any remaining meat from carcass. Remove skin from breast meat and pull meat into shreds. Using fingers and knife point, tear and cut meat from leg bones, removing tendons and discarding skin. Toque Tips will be a continuing feature in this cooking series.