Although a chicken platter has many different versions and may contain several components, the primary feature of this culinary dish is that one or more pieces of chicken are highlighted. Normally, the chicken is kept in large pieces rather than chopped or ground. The amount of food is usually larger than one would find on a normal-sized dinner plate, as platters are bigger than other dishware and allow cooks to serve more at a time.
Cooks generally prepare the chicken for a chicken platter in one of four ways. They may grill, bake, boil or fry it. Boiling is probably the least common preparation method, with grilling and frying being most prevalent. A chicken platter may highlight several methods of cooking chicken, or may follow a particular culinary theme by featuring Mexican or other ethnic recipes. This allows a cook to provide diners with a way to sample different chicken recipes.
The additional components of a chicken platter may be anything the cook chooses, but normally are vegetables common to the region in which the cook works. Rice, potatoes, broccoli and carrots are staples. Cooks usually match the preparation method of the chicken with the preparation of the vegetables. For instance, if they fry the chicken, they may pair the chicken with french fries instead of mashed potatoes. They also are careful to choose vegetables that work with the seasonings selected for the chicken.
A lower-end chicken platter often does not have an accompanying sauce or gravy, although condiments such as ketchup might be available. In mid- to higher-end chicken platters, chefs do prepare toppings such as cream and herb sauces in order to make the chicken seem more moist and to add extra flavor and texture.
A chicken platter generally is not exceptionally difficult to prepare. As a result, most kitchen workers pay attention to how they present the platter. They might add extra herb garnishments, for example, or arrange the dish in an aesthetically pleasing way. Typically, the higher the restaurant level, the more emphasis is placed on presentation. Many high-end restaurants even consider the title of the dish in presentation, using a different, more exotic name based on the preparation method or accompanying sauce or vegetables to make the platter seem more appealing or elite.
Restaurants often advertise a chicken platter as a main entrée. The amount of food presented on the platter often adequately serves anywhere from two to four people, although how much food the restaurant presents is up to management. The size of the platter does not necessarily guarantee that the restaurant will direct the platter at more than one person, however. It is not unusual for the platter to hold enough for two people even when it is sold as a single meal.
The fact people can raise chickens in so many regions has contributed significantly to the success of chicken platters. The dishes generally are less expensive than dishes with other meats or seafood, as well. People often like these dishes because they tend to be "lighter" or not as high in calories, although the way the chicken is prepared and what accompanies it contributes to the "weight" of the meal.