Can I Substitute Chicken for Fish in a Recipe?

Dear Home-Ec 101,

I see a lot of recipes that sound really good that call for fish–salmon, tuna, and so on. The thing is that I don’t like fish. With recipes like “Glazed Salmon,” can I substitute chicken in the recipe?

Thanks,
Truly Chicken When it Comes to the Sea. . .food

Heather says:

Absolutely.

The end.

Oh, you wanted details? Don’t worry, I always have details, I carry them around in my head like other people carry their fantasy football league stats. Some people have decided this means Heather wants to play Stain Removal Pop Quiz at parties, but let me assure you, this is NOT the case. At a party, I’ll happily stand off to the side and watch you guys sing karaoke or I’ll find the nerds’ table and happily geek out.

Where was I?

Print out this handy table, using the Print Friendly button at the bottom of the post. It will pull up a printer friendly version of this post where you can get rid of my chatter with just a few clicks.

Approximate Chicken Cooking Times¹

Type of ChickenWeightRoasting 350°FSimmeringGrilling
Whole broiler fryer+3 to 4 lbs.1 1/4 – 1 1/2 hrs.60 to 75 min.60 to 75 min*
Whole roasting hen+5 to 7 lbs.2 to 2 1/4 hrs.1 3/4 to 2 hrs.18-25 min/lb*
Whole capon+4 to 8 lbs.2 to 3 hrsNot suitable15-20 min/lb*
Whole Cornish hens+18-24 oz.50 to 60 min.35 to 40 min.45 to 55 min*
Breast halves, bone-in6 to 8 oz.30 to 40 min.35 to 45 min.10 – 15 min/side
Breast half, boneless4 ounces20 to 30 min.25 to 30 min.6 to 8 min/side
Legs or thighs8 or 4 oz.40 to 50 min.40 to 50 min.10 – 15 min/side
Drumsticks4 ounces35 to 45 min.40 to 50 min.8 to 12 min/side
Wings or wingettes2 to 3 oz.30 to 40 min.35 to 45 min.8 to 12 min/side
*Grilled indirectly with a drip pan
+without stuffing
¹Source: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/chicken_food_safety_focus/index.asp

Now whenever you run across a glaze, marinade, or rub intended for fish, turkey, or pork, you can easily reference this chart to modify the cooking directions used in the recipe. Do keep in mind that if a glaze has a lot of sugar, you may not want to add it until the last few minutes of grilling or if you are cooking in the oven, the dish may need to be covered the first half to prevent over-browning.

What about taste conflicts?

Have you ever noticed how people like to say, “Oh come on, it tastes just like chicken,” when it comes to trying more exotic meats? This is because chicken is pretty neutral when it comes to its flavor profile -However, I’m not sure about its stance on politics. Plain chicken just doesn’t taste like much, since it has such a mild flavor. This is why wing joints have 50 different flavors to try and most are good, even if you may regret the really spicy ones the next day.

Finally, regarding marinades, do keep in mind that fish is generally only marinated for a few minutes to an hour, while chicken can be marinated for much longer (2 hours – overnight)  provided you do so in the refrigerator and not on the counter. You do remember the bacterial danger zone, right? Keep cold foods below 40F and hot foods above 140°F. If your food (exceptions  for shelf stable items like breads, crackers, etc)  is held between these two temperatures for more than two hours, it should be discarded.

Questions?

Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.





1 Comment

  1. jorgec on October 14, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Heather, Where’s the time for La Caja China” style? 20 whole chickens roasted to perfection in under 2 hours..

    Love your Blog!

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