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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...

              2. I use peach yoghurt in my chicken salad. Takes the place of the mayo part nad I love the fruitiness of the peach! Best of both world and I can make it any time of year when peaches aren't around!

                1 Reply
                1. re: starlady

                  I actually spooned in some homemade rhubarb compote and the flavor is exquisite. WOW. I've made a curried chicken salad calling for mango chutney (an epicurious recipe that I really like) before and I remember substituting homemade sour cherry sauce with excellent results. So I tried the rhubarb this time, with some homemade mayo and just a touch of sour cream, plus fresh parsley, shallots, grapes-- and it is Fantastic!

                  I bought three peaches at the market yesterday and I was planning to slice one up for my chicken salad sandwiches - now I definitely will. Thanks for the idea!

                2. So you bake it in a 350 oven for 45 minutes, do you cover the chicken with milk, how much?

                  1. I also had previously read about cooking chicken in cream for chicken salad, i just tried this today. YUMMY...the chicken is moist and creamy. perfect for the chicken salad recipe I have been trying to perfect.
                    I add sliced grapes, crushed pecans, course chopped celery and bit of onion. to that i add a mayo/sour cream mix that is seasoned with sea salt, lemon juice, tarragon, parsley and pepper...pretty good. Chunky, lie i like it!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jennisad

                      I have the same question as paprkutr...350 degrees for 45 minutes in the oven? How much heavy cream do you use? Just to cover the chicken? Do you use a lid? This sounds like a great way to cook chicken breasts -- I'm dying to try it!

                    2. Yes, I cooked it at 350 and it ended up taking about 40 minutes for a pound and a half of chicken. I don't have a meat thermometer but I do have someone who knows when meat is done :) and she assured me it was done right at 40 minutes. I did not cover the chicken.

                      I covered it about halfway and flipped the chicken halfway through. I just can't rave enough about how perfectly this works for chicken salad! Creamylicious. Red grapes are on sale this week so I think I'll make another batch, although peaches are calling my name too, so I might mix some of those in with the next batch.

                      I usually go for tarragon with herbs but in this batch I had rhubarb compote and fresh parsley. MUCH better after sitting overnight for flavors to mingle. Mmmm.

                      I really like the simplicity of this prep, too - slap the chicken in the baking dish, toss on the cream, and into the oven it goes! No hovering over pans or grills, no fussing around -- and divine results.

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: foxy fairy

                        BTW, I really cannot take credit for coming up with this way of cooking chicken, just passed it along...The way I discovered it was in the cookbook, The New Basics by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins..They used this method for a Tarragon Chicken Salad recipe, and I just started using it for all kinds of things, besides chicken salads..It is really a foolproof way to produce tender boneless chicken breast every time...When I first started cooking it this way, I too, was a little timid about the 40 minute cooking time, but it always cooks through...Most of us tend to overcook chicken..This cookbook is really an amazing one...There are many wonderful recipes and cooking techniques to try...

                        1. re: jinet12

                          The Silver Palate chicas! I have the original cookbook - I know I haven't used it nearly as much as I should. I like their style and the lovely pairings of ingredients. Any other favorites of theirs that you could suggest? (I don't have New Basics though - just the original).

                          Thank you for the tip, really though! I'm so excited about dreaming up all kinds of chicken recipes now!

                          1. re: foxy fairy

                            One of the recipes I remember is like a "Pecan Fried Chicken"...It is where you take a cut up chicken and dip in in an egg and water mixture, then dredge the pieces in equal parts of flour, cornmeal, chopped pecans, and seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne pepper...It is then fried in corn oil in a deep fat fryer until done, a few pieces at a time for about 10-15 minutes...When it's done, it is cooled on a rack...What is decadent and delicious about this recipe, is that the hot chicken is served with a dipping sauce of a combination of a stick of melted butter, 1/4 cup of honey, and a cup of pecans...This mixture is put in a food processer and pulsed to mix, leaving the nuts chunky...Certainly not something you would eat everyday, but when you want to throw the low fat food out the window, this should do! As I recall it was met with rave reviews....

                            1. re: jinet12

                              This sounds really good, is this the recipe? I tried googling silver palate pecan fried chicken, but came up with nothing.

                              1. re: paprkutr

                                It's in the New Basics Cookbook...Use 1 cup of the flour, cornmeal, and pecans...Use 4 cups Corn Oil...Yes, that's the recipe...

                              2. re: jinet12

                                I'm all in favor of tossing low-fat out the window! :) Of course, I haven't yet purchased a deep fat fryer. Maybe one day soon.

                                1. re: foxy fairy

                                  I used to have one a long time ago, but have not replaced it yet...Figure if I have one, I'll use it!

                              3. re: foxy fairy

                                I love my Silver Palate cookbook foxy fairy. Used it over and over...Bobbies Chicken. and the Marabella is decent. There are many good seafood ideas that can be easily made into one's own. Which I've done often. Great little book for a person new to entertaining.

                                1. re: chef chicklet

                                  I love Bobby's Chicken as well...I am, and have been, a huge fan of Sheila Ludkins for years...I would love to see her have her own cooking show...Her "U.S.A." cookbook is wonderful, and that is where I found the best tasting recipe for salmon cakes that I have ever made...

                                  1. re: jinet12

                                    that looks like a fantastic book! I think I'm going to order it :) thanks for the trip

                          2. I love chicken salad. The best way I've found to cook the chicken is in the oven. I use boneless, skinless chicken breast and I wrap them in aluminum foil. I put each one in it's own pouch w/ salt and pepper. I bake mine on 350-375 for about 30 minutes or so. They stay so moist and juicy for the chicken salad!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: rmiller14

                              Do you add any olive oil or broth or anything liquid to the pouch?