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Chicken cooking question (for chicken salad)

I spotted an idea here for cooking chicken in cream (350 degrees, 45 minutes) and then using it for chicken salad. I've been experimenting with chicken salads - various dressings and mixtures, and now different preparations of the chicken itself.

I don't have cream. I have milk, buttermilk, and about 1/2-cup of half-and half. I'm cooking about a pound and a half of chicken. I do want to try cooking it in the liquid as suggested, but since I don't have the cream, I don't know which to use of the liquids I do have.

I think I'm going to try throwing some peaches into the salad! YUM. I spotted this idea on epicurious (calls for bottled poppyseed dressing, but I'm going to make my own dressing, probably creamy curry with grapes).

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  1. I have done it using milk and they came out fine.

    1. When I make chicken for salad - I lay the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and pour whole milk about 1/2 way up - cook until 155 and remove (carry over will bring temp up 165) - there will be a bit of a skin on the chicken and the milk is unusable - but in a side by side test with poached chicken and plain baked chicken, this method won - In one of the salads I use sour cream with little mayo (to keep from seizing) as dressing with - red onion, lemon zest (lots), tarragon, s & p - whatever else you like - add some steamed asparagus for a great lemon chicken salad. Lots of

      4 Replies
      1. re: harryharry

        My husband adheres to the 10-minute chicken method. He learned about it in college (so take it for what it's worth-but he's 41 now and has lived through numerous chicken dishes prepared this way). Bring water to a boil. Drop in the chicken (thawed, not a frozen one) Boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat. Cover pot and let stand for 1 hour. It does cook the chicken perfectly, I have to admit although it doesn't really add any flavors. He likes to use it ina curry dressing with green grapes.

        1. re: Missy

          You should never boil chicken. Boiling it causes the protein to seize up and it gets rubbery.

          That saud, I use your method with seasoned water/broth. Bring just to a boil, lower to a gentle simmer, then turn off. Chicken breasts will be done in about 20 minutes.

        2. re: harryharry

          Sounds excellent. Umm, I don't have a meat thermometer (YET - it's on the list). Any guesstimate of time? I have a pound and a half of chicken breasts.

          1. re: foxy fairy

            I couldn't tell you time... maybe 20 min at 350 (I use a convection oven). Get a thermometer... it took me a while to get used to, but I use it all the time now and nver over cook meat. In the meantime use the touch test - if the thickest part of hte chicken breast is firm it should be done... if you aren't sure, just cut into it... you're going to cut them up anyway. Also, it's a nice presentation if you slice the chicken (across the grain) into 1/4 - 1/8 slices for the chicken salad. Yes...I only use bnls sknls chicken breasts.

        3. Actually I have chicken breasts (boneless skinless) - not a whole chicken. Can I still cook it in the milk or buttermilk? Which would be better?

          1 Reply
          1. re: foxy fairy

            I'm not a big fan of buttermilk, but if you are going to do the curry dressing, I think the tang from the buttermilk would be a good addition of flavor. But I think both would work fine either way. Good luck and I hope this helps.

          2. The cream actually is what makes the chicken breast so tender due to the higher fat content....

            1. Just to report back -- this worked out so beautifully, that it will definitely be my go-to method of cooking chicken for salads. I ended up using a combo of buttermilk/milk/half-and-half and cooked for about 40 minutes on 350. The chicken ended up tasting so creamy and perfectly cooked, so tender and flavorful. I don't like boiling or poaching meat, and grilling tastes a little off sometimes with chicken salads, so for me this is ideal for chicken salads! Thanks for the help and a great idea!
              (Ever throw some herbs into the cream while cooking? Would the herb flavor carry into the chicken? I don't know since the liquid is discarded...)

              3 Replies
              1. re: foxy fairy

                Glad you liked this cooking method..I've been using it for many years...I almost always put several cloves of garlic in the cream...This, BTW, is not only a great way to cook chicken for chicken salad, but also for anything you are cooking when "cooked" chicken breast are called for...i.e. chicken brocolli casserole, etc...

                1. re: jinet12

                  You leave the cloves whole, right? Then you discard them with the liquids later? Mmmm. Great tip on the casserole - hey, do you have a smashing recipe for something like that, by any chance? :)

                  1. re: foxy fairy

                    I leave the cloves whole, but cut off the tip to expose the garlic, then discard them...I have many chicken casserole recipes, some that I cook often, though most of them are low carb, they are delicious...If you are interested, I will post, though think I may have posted one or two before...For a delicious, though shameful because it is so easy and uses a can of soup, you can't go wrong with the basic broccoli and chicken casserole, known by all, but still very good...In a greased casserole, layer already cooked ( not overcooked) broccoli, layer on top of that the cooked chicken, layer on top of that, a mixture of canned cream of chicken soup which has been mixed with about 1/2 to 1 cup mayo, the juice of one lemon, a Tablespoon or so of good curry powder, and a couple of shakes of cayenne pepper...Some people also add shredded cheese to this mixture...You can top this, if you don't add cheese to the mixture, with grated parmesan cheese....You can also top it with those crispy fried onion things...Bake it at 350 degrees uncovered until bubbling...Everyone seems to love this one....Sometimes I use two cans of soup to get more sauce and just adjust my seasonings/ingredients...