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quick ideas for doctoring up chicken breasts?

The local market had one of its occasional really low priced packets of boneless, skinless chicken breast at maybe 1.59 a pound. The breasts are huge, seemingly twice the size of roaster equivalents. I actually pound them flat a bit so there's some hope for even cooking.

Good protein, anyway, but I'm guessing these are not likely to taste like much without some serious additional flavorings. Here's what my present toolkit offers:

--brining in salt solution and then using a spice rub to grill carefully, adding BQ sauce toward end (usually pretty decent, but the chicken is, at center, still somewhat bland);

--creating a marinade of olive oil, honey, sugar, lemon juice, garlic and herbs, then marinating the chicken in half of the marinade, grilling the chicken, and then coating the finished chicken with remaining marinade (this is really good, adapted from a Cooks Illustrated thing).

I wonder if anyone knows any other cool marinades, maybe something southwestern that would help me use up some chiles in adobo? Or maybe a thai marinade?


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  1. Not a marinade-based technique, but since you're pounding them flat anyway, why not stuff them? I have a recipe (I think from Cooking Light?) that involves stuffing 4 breasts with the following mixture: 1 log goat cheese + 1 can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped + zest and juice of 1 lemon + a few tablespoons of plain breadcrumbs + S&P to taste. Roll them up and secure with toothpicks or twine. Brown in a skillet, turning a few times. Finish in the oven at 325.

    5 Replies
    1. re: truman

      Yum. I also have a similar recipe, but they're stuffed with gruyere, arugula and sun dried tomato, IIRC. Made them once to raves. Still have the recipe somewhere. May have to pull it out for tonight, as I have two gargantuan breasts thawing in the fridge as we speak.......

      1. re: Phurstluv

        Any idea what's the story with those huge chicken breasts (decided I didn't want to write just "huge breasts," but then here I go....)? Are these older birds? Egg layers? Anti-biotic hothouse monsters?

        Thanks for the ideas so far, by the way.

        1. re: Bada Bing

          Yea, not really sure. Seems like they breed the chickens to be huge for the market these days.+

          1. re: Phurstluv

            Did you know that the turkeys you find in supermarkets actually aren't able to breed naturally? Fact. They've been so over-bred to develop the breast meat they can't get close enough to each other, the females have to be artificially inseminated. Not a new thing either, I got it from a guy I met 20 years ago, who's a professional falconer and worked for a while for several industrial poultry places.

            1. re: pasuga

              I did not know that. Thanks for the info. Not that it bother me any. Turkeys are pretty dumb, at least the farmed ones are. But they sure are tasty. And just about everyone likes turkey breast, so that's more food for our people, and at a good price. I guess I'm not really surprised. We feed a lot of people in this country.

    2. What about a chicken curry type concoction? Or something mexican.

      You can also slice em up, pound thin and do a number of italian style stuff...chicken franchese, marsala, etc...

      I love chicken breast straight up with some salsa also.

      1. Okay, I'm the original poster and will happily track more responses. In particular, I need to try this cheese-stuffing approach. But given the immediacy of the issue, I went ahead and did this, which turns out to really work well:

        1. I heavily salted the chicken breasts on each side and chilled an hour, then rinsed;

        2. For a marinade I pureed these things in a blender: a tablespoon or so of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce; four cloves of garlic; a small peeled onion; juice of one lime; a couple teaspoons of sugar, some salt and pepper; a few tablespoons of chili powder; a tablespoon of freshly ground cumin; and a splash of water. Toss the chicken in a gallon bag with the marinade and let rest an hour.

        3. Roast the chicken on a broiler pan for 11 minutes on each side (big breasts) and then shift to broil for a few minutes on each side. (Really, the times emerge because I use a temp. probe, and I make sure not to cook much above 160 degrees; I just didn't want to overcook)

        The chicken is terrific--and oddly like home-made tandoori chicken in flavor...

        2 Replies
        1. re: Bada Bing

          I split and pound the breasts and stuff them with frozen spinach, ricotta or cream cheese, and some grated cheddar cheese. I added the Penzey's Everglade seasoning. on top of each breast, i put a couple of slices of tomato and more Everglades seasoning and Jane's salt.

          1. re: Bada Bing

            If you're looking for cheese-stuffing variations, I love the combo of smoked gouda and spinach stuffed into chicken breasts. Very tasty.

          2. I'd put them into a white chicken chili. Or stick in a freezer of a few minutes, slice thinly, velvet and stir fry with some vegetables!

            1. Here's a superb recipe from Epicurious that I've posted many many times here on CH...now, the recipe calls for ancho chile sauce but I've made that and it's waaaay better with chipotles in adobo...and much less work! See if it fits your style...can you grill at this time of year? I've never tried this in oven or under broiler because I'm in FL but see what you think:

              1. Gotta second the brine - one of my top picks for white meat poultry! The flavor profiles I choose most often contain citrus or vinegar, and to let poultry marinate in these for long enough that the flavor really soaks in is to allow the acid to break down the meat to a sad texture.

                Solution: "marinate" in brine, and any other marinade ingredients, EXCEPT for the acid component, which you should add at the end, or up to an hour before cooking.

                With regard to the salt: water ratios in a brine, some smart 'Hounds are ahead of us:


                And then, some of my favorites for chicken breast! Add ingredients to brine to taste. Remember not to add the citrus or vinegar till the end. I just splash it right on the drained chicken when it goes into the pan.

                Vietnamese - Nuoc Cham (no vinegar), chopped herbs of your choice (mint leaves, cilantro/culantro, green onions, Thai basil), squeeze lime juice at the end.

                Mexican - Cumin, chopped raw garlic, chopped raw onion, cilantro, squeeze lemon or lime juice at the end.

                Lemon Pepper - Chopped raw garlic, black pepper, lemon zest, squeeze lemon at the end.

                Asian Chicken - Ground or fresh grated ginger, ground white pepper, ground mustard, rice vinegar and drizzle sesame oil at the end. Can add sugar to the brine if you like it sweet.

                Balsamic chicken - Minced fresh garlic, black pepper, fresh/dry herbs (oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary - in moderation), balsamic vinegar at the end. Cook with good olive oil and thinly sliced onions.

                Thai chicken - Chopped Thai basil, Sriracha, fish sauce, lime juice at the end. Cook with thinly sliced raw onion, garnish w/ crushed peanuts.

                I've gone on too long, but we eat a LOT of chicken. Love this thread!