Chicken Breasts for chicken salads or pasta salads
- nikki Feb 8, 2005 11:15 AM
What's a foolproof way to prepare this for est flavor moistness?
You could poach them, but I find the flavor to be kind of bland and "boiled". I like it better when they are roasted. Just sprinkle them with salt, and roast on a cookie sheet brushed with vegetable oil at 400 degrees until they are 160 degrees (for bone-in, takes about 35 to 40 minutes, about 25 if they are boneless). Cool to room temperature, remove the skin, take them off the bone, and shred them with your hands or with two forks.
I poach them in a well seasoned stock. I prefer skin on and bone in. The stock that I use will have carrots, onions, celery, parsley, thyme, salt, peppercorns, etc. I make that first and then add the chicken. Never boil it and keep the temperature low so that the surface of the stock just ripples a bit
I sprinkle garlic salt on the bottom of roasting pan then add whole chicken breast with skin and bone-in sprinkle garlic salt on top of chicken cover with heavy duty foil so you are steaming the chicken. When done keep the reserve chicken stock and the chicken fat for another time (great for chicken pie)
I like to rub with salt and pepper (and whatever else is on hand that I think will compliment the salad I'm making), sear in a little olive oil, then cover and finish cooking. I let them cook completely before I slice or chop them and they're not the least bit rubbery. Just tender, flavorful, and juicy.
The breasts from a brined, whole roasted bird.
Second best, a whole breast brined and roasted.
Boneless, skinless breasts cooked any way will taste awful. You need the fat and bones to cook them well.
For most flavor, I like to roast, bone in, skin on.
Over the weekend, I poached some boneless, skin on chicken breasts in a crockpot. I used half Swanson's chicken broth (in the box) and half bottled water, ~1/4-1/3 cup each; chopped celery, carrots, yellow onion, leeks. Started with cool liquids and rinsed chicken breasts. The chicken was very tender, very moist. I poached until the internal temp of the chicken was ~160, I let it rest, then shredded it for Bonnie's Buffalo Chicken Dip.
If you have a Chineese cookbook consult that for the poaching method. Cover the (bone and skin on unsplit) breast with heavily salted water, bring just to a boil, turn off the heat and cover. Leave it in the water until it's not really hot enough to be cooking anymore- it will be done. I usually then put the whole pot into the fridge or at least keep the breast doused with the liquid until it is cool. The flesh is lush and succulent when shredded. This will not result in chicken stock, though, unless you return the bones and some vegetables to that water and cook it longer, even then if you have used enough salt it will be too salty for normal stock applications.
The ultimate: Roast it in a covered dish like a tagine (moroccan clay oven), Le Crueset roaster, or glass dish with a proper lid.
Roasting in its own juices helps it stay moist. A secure lid (not just a tin foil cover) while roasting is needed.
If you start with Foster Farms "Fresh and Easy" boneless, skinless chicken breasts, you will have a better final product. That is specific to the brand. They are very, very tender. Cut on the diagonal, stir fry.
If you cut the breasts somewhat against the grain instead of just cubing, you will have a more tender piece. To do this, place the breast top side up and cut with a sharp knife at a 45 degree angle to the countertop. Of course, you can cut those in half if too large.
Then, a quick stir fry in an oil-sprayed wok or in broth after cutting will keep it tender (the flesh will also absorb flavors here) By a "quick" stir fry, I mean in and out of the high heat so it doesn't overcook or brown at all; about 1 minute. Remember, it will keep cooking a bit after removed from the heat. You have to get a feel for how long it takes on your stove in your equipment, bit watch it at first as its just right after the pinkish meat turns some white.
I would also consider the grocery store hot roasted chickens, but those aren't just breasts.
Steam then! Yup....Place the skinned breasts in a strainer with some salt, pepper and dill. Place over er boiling water and cover. Do not over cook! Once cooled, cut up in bite sized chucks, add celery, mayo, sour cream, a 1/2 tsp of sesame oil and salt and pepper to taste.
Another good idea is to forget the celery, add red pepper and snow peas and mix in with pasta for a cold pasta chicken salad.