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Jun 13, 2010 11:44 AM

Please stop my wife from boiling chicken, for the love of all things tasty!

It's getting out of hand. Between boiling chicken and PRESSURE COOKING chicken, I'm not sure how much more I can take.

I try to offer help, I really do. But either I do it myself, or it gets boiled to a tasteless mushy mess.

Personally I pan fry chicken pieces on one side for 6 minutes, flip them over, add some homemade stock and toss it in the oven. But apparently she's just not going to go to such troubles.

And making stock? Don't even get her started on what an exercise in futility and waste of money that is... (~$2)....

So is there a happy medium in here somewhere? She just wants to cook it so she can shred it and make tacos and whatnot.

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  1. omg.. I just heard the pressure cooker start to hiss!!!


    1 Reply
    1. re: SocksManly

      Well, I was going to suggest you sneak into the kitchen right after she sets the pot to boil and toss in some seasonings like chiles, herbs, tomatoes, spices, garlic, onions, whatever strikes your fancy at the moment, BUT.... If she does it with a pressure cooker, you're hosed! Poor baby! Or there's always take-out for you ever time she boils and leave the boiled chicken for her. Or... Do you have a cell phone you can make ring, answer the fake call and tell her you have to go to the office for an emergency? Good luck!!!!

    2. Buy high grade chicken, rub the hell out of it, then roast. If all goes well, it should retain enough moisture to shred. Try a one breast experiment to set everyone's mind at ease.

      1. I pressure-cook chicken all the time. It's perfect for chicken salad, enchiladas, chicken & dumplings, pot pie, whatever.

        Two things to remember. First, water is not your friend. I put a few tablespoons of water in the bottom of the cooker (warning: different cookers have different minimum water amounts) and set the chicken on a rack above it. Second, timing is everything. For a whole ~5# chicken, cook at 15 psi for 20 minutes, then off the heat. No mush, no fush.

        And speaking of stock - let the chicken cool, pick the easy-to-get-to meat, and toss the carcass back into the cooker. Cover with water, bring the pressure back to 15 psi for an hour, then strain and defat. Far better than any stock you can buy.

        4 Replies
        1. re: alanbarnes

          I second this! I grew up with a mother who pressure cooked everything, including chicken. Always seemed to turn out just fine....

          1. re: alanbarnes

            Great suggestion thanks.. I'll take over next time and try this method out and then extol its virtues, perhaps I'll make some headway.. I never knew you could put less water in there, but it totally makes sense.. Why not right. :)

            My pressure cooker is somewhat ancient, think Cheers or Perfect Strangers maybe. Seinfeld is probably too generous. Is 15psi the standard whistling range? Gentle whistle maybe?

            I'll ask her how long she cooks it for too, I bet it's way too long.

            1. re: SocksManly

              If it has a thing that jiggles on the top, you're going to need more water. 15 psi is the standard full pressure.

            2. re: alanbarnes

              thank you, alan, i needed that information. i have a newish electronic pressure cooker, and now know -- thanks to you -- how to use that rack.

            3. What about braising it? It takes a little while but you can do a bunch at one time and save it and it's pretty low labor. Brown some thighs (or other pieces with a little more connective tissue) in a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven, throw in some liquid(s) of your choice like stock, wine, hot sauce, tomato sauce, adobo sauce, or anything else you can think of, add some seasonings of your choice and cook covered on low or in the oven until the chicken is nice and tender and shreddable. Probably much easier to shred than if it were boiled, and plus it takes only one pot and it creates it's own tasty sauce. Perfect as a filling for tacos and lots of other things.

              12 Replies
              1. re: Lady_Tenar

                Is she jewish? If so, there is nothing you can do to save her :) Deepest sympathies.

                I say this because coming from a jewish upbringing my mother used to boil the hell out of a chicken every Friday. I'm talking hours upon hours. Blech!

                1. re: millygirl

                  My steep grandmother wasn't Jewish, but she boiled the hell out of everything, INCLUDING prime dry aged Porterhouse steaks. Her cooking was a family joke and the family's nightmare. Except she did make pretty good potato bread.

                  1. re: Caroline1

                    caroline, she boiled porterhouse steaks? that's a first for me!

                    1. re: alkapal

                      Yes! It was a first for me too.... And thank god, a last! "Grandma Lena" was eccentric. I had a love/hate relationship with her. They lived in San Francisco, and we spent a week or two with them every summer. The first thing she would do to me, beginnin at age seven, was put a "posture harness" on me to make me hold my shoulders back. I had GOOD posture and the damned thing hurt! Her food was... Well, I ate food she'd cooked for her dog one time by mistake, and it was a lot tastier than what she cooked for people! BUT...! The saving grace was that every summer she dragged me to Grant Avenue/Chinatown with her while she went to her herbalist. That was a bit creepy, but afterward she always took me for dim sum. Anything I wanted! And as much as I wanted. And afterwards, to a souvenir shop for a hand carved ivory souvenir. She had some redeeming qualities. But cooking steak was not one of them!

                      1. re: Caroline1

                        wow, grandma lena does sound like quite a character.

                        was the concept of boiling the steak to purify it in some way?

                        posture harness, ach! what a shame! ;-(.

                        1. re: alkapal

                          Purify the steaks? Not that I know of, but she WAS bizarre! One of San Francisco's great eccentrics in her day.

                        2. re: Caroline1

                          Neat story. Hey, maybe boiled steak is an acquired taste.

                    2. re: millygirl

                      lol nope, Mexican. :) It's "the way they do it there" heh.

                      Reminds me of the time I bought a $100 prime rib roast, brought it to my mom's house, explained the guy who knows what he's talking about said it would take about an hour and a half... She thought more like 5 hours... I mean.... I don't need to tell you what happened next.

                      1. re: SocksManly

                        You took the meat and went home?

                        Reminds me of my Mother-In-Law. 6 hours was not too long to cook a pork chop. There is a reason her table always had gravy on it.

                      2. re: millygirl

                        Anyone know why so many Jewish moms think that boiling chicken is wonderful? My mom used to also boil a chicken for hours and insist that "everyone" loves it and also falsely claim that she'd been asked repeatedly for the recipe. It was like being served slime on a plate. Between that, and her other standby of turkey legs cooked in a plastic roasting bag with orange juice, it was amazing that I ate enough to survive long enough to the age when I could sneak out to get comparatively delicious Taco Bell. That and NEVER EVER salting anything! Man, it was bad.

                        1. re: millygirl

                          I come from a jewish upbringing as well - but thankfully, my mom is a very good cook (as was my grandmother before her.) But my mom & I still joke about the jewish neighbor across the street who was a long time believer in the "lets boil it until it's good and dead" school of thought. We always felt so sorry for that poor family. No good eats there.

                          1. re: millygirl

                            Reminds me of my mom who steamed everything because it's "healthier",healthier being we'd only take 2 bites of it! and i don't believe it is because half the time we'd just overload on dessert or order take out later when we got older.

                            What's worse is she is too frugal to buy anything, so instead of a steamer or steaming tray, she uses a plate / bowl which catches water. In effect it gets boiled too.

                            My father , who is actually a good cook use to make extra portions (knowing that we'd starve on our mothers cooking). Instead of reheating it on the stove, she'd lump everything into a large bowl / plate and start steaming it. The funniest thing in our childhood was when she'd drain the collected water out afterwards, and say something to the effect of "I cooked it just like dad" ... I guess she thought if we didn't see our food drowned in a layer of water, it would some how taste like the original (fried, grilled, etc).. We knew.

                            She cooked almost everyday for 20+years that I can remember, but it never got better.
                            The family joke is that a microwave has a 50% chance of cooking better on any given day.

                        2. Socks and MIlly, those are some of the funniest posts I've read here.

                          I can understand the pressure cooker if one is making broth for soup and such, but if it's just to cook the chicken, I agree, roasting is the answer.

                          1 Reply