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Wanted: Outstanding chicken breasts!

Pixie Muse Aug 4, 2011 01:06 PM

I'm running out of ideas on how to turn plain looking chicken breasts into something outstanding!

I keep buying them, because they "appear" easy to put together, but when I'm done with them, they're sort of blah.

Please help me prepare outstanding chicken breasts:)

  1. s
    sushigirlie Aug 6, 2011 09:16 AM

    I like to brine them, saute them, and serve them with a pan sauce. I learned my techniques from reading Cooks Illustrated The Best Recipe.

    When chicken breasts are cooked well, they are moist, juicy, and delicious. Brining really helps. The quality of the chicken is also important to the flavor.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sushigirlie
      Pixie Muse Aug 6, 2011 10:34 AM

      Sushi thanks.... Would you mind sharing exactly how you brine yours. I only make a breast at a time when I'm alone..and I may have added too much salt last time. How long do you brine them for?
      thanks again

      1. re: sushigirlie
        v
        vday Aug 6, 2011 10:43 AM

        sushigirl - can you detail what you do starting with the brining? We had a fabulous chicken prepared this was recently in Seattle and I would love to toy around with duplicating it.

      2. a
        AdamD Aug 5, 2011 04:02 PM

        Chicken breasts
        kosher/organic
        brine
        marinate
        poach or
        pound thin and grill
        skewer with scallions, grill and baste with yakitori sauce and sansho pepper
        quesadillas or tacos with your choice of condiments and seasoning
        curried chicken salad with dried fruit (yogurt, sour cream or mayo depending on nutritional requirements)
        improv bahn mi
        perhaps even a chicken cesar salad with roasted red peppers or artichokes
        or just grill it and top with a mango salsa

        1 Reply
        1. re: AdamD
          Pixie Muse Aug 5, 2011 04:51 PM

          I really love the sound of curried chicken salad with dried fruit ! Thanks for that

        2. m
          MyNameIsTerry Aug 5, 2011 03:01 PM

          Chicken Tinga tacos or burritos. Season your breasts with salt and pepper and set aside. Preheat over to 400. Get a pan hot, add oil, wait for oil to get very hot. (You're only sauteeing, and sauteeing is not unheatlhy provided the pan gets hot as does the oil - you won't be absorbing the oil) Saute on both sides for a few minutes until golden brow, then remove to a plate. Put plate into oven and cook to required done-ness, sorry I don't time things just go by feel. Remove, let rest for 5 minutes, then shred. (use two forks and pull chicken apart)

          Then do this: http://www.fronterafiesta.com/cook/ta... replacing the frontera chipotle salsa with a can of diced tomatoes (or fresh if you'd like) 3 chipotle peppers some diced onion, cilantro, salt, cracked black pepper, and enough of the chipotle sauce to give it what you consider the right amount of smokiness and kick.

          Takes a bit of time, but it's delicious.

          1. a
            acgold7 Aug 5, 2011 01:51 PM

            As others have noted, this is quite a challenge. You've chosen what is inherently the most flavorless, driest, most "blah" animal protein out there, and by removing it from its skin and bone, deprived it of whatever chance it has to take on any natural flavor or moistness. And then you eliminate any preparations (fry, BBQ) or accompaniments (cheese, sauces) that could make it better. So I'm not sure how outstanding they can possibly be at this point.

            As they say, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

            But one thing that always helps is brining them.

            Not that they can't be decent, but perhaps your expectations, given your restrictions, are a bit unrealistic.

            All that being said, have you tried spicy/exotic stir-frys?

            As you've probably noted, most of the suggestions above include liberal amounts of fat and/or sauce and highly seasoned other wet ingredients to try to introduce some moisture and flavor into what is otherwise the animal equivalent of drywall.

            3 Replies
            1. re: acgold7
              Pixie Muse Aug 5, 2011 02:05 PM

              Hmm, spicy exotic stri-fry's eh? Yum

              I am chuckling at the mention of drywall.. )

              1. re: acgold7
                linguafood Aug 5, 2011 02:10 PM

                I've been getting empire kosher chicken breasts which apparently are brined. They are fab just pan-fried -- juicy, flavorful, awesome.

                In fact, made chicken piccata with them yesterday.

                1. re: linguafood
                  a
                  acgold7 Aug 5, 2011 02:31 PM

                  That's a great and often overlooked point: kosher birds are effectively pre-brined -- well, rubbed, actually, but the effect is the same -- and thus are juicer and more flavorful and don't need brining by the home cook.

                  But you can and should always brine them yourself if you can't or don't want to buy kosher chicken. I've edited my post above to reflect that, which I had intended to mention originally but forgot to.

              2. linguafood Aug 5, 2011 09:28 AM

                Chicken piccata. Always a fave in my house. And what's your problem with sauce, anyway?

                No frying "for obvious reasons?" Which are....???

                8 Replies
                1. re: linguafood
                  r
                  Ripple Aug 5, 2011 03:05 PM

                  Chicken piccata is a HUGE fave in this house with artichoke hearts and capers with angel hair pasta. Everyone fights over the sauce, fresh lemon and white wine!!!!

                  1. re: linguafood
                    s
                    soupkitten Aug 5, 2011 03:16 PM

                    Pixie Muse: do you mean you absolutely don't fry at all, pan frying included, or do you mean you just don't deep-fry? is your current method. . . poaching? or what?

                    please clari-fry! :)

                    1. re: soupkitten
                      Pixie Muse Aug 5, 2011 04:49 PM

                      I don't fry at all, but hate admitting it, because people judge non-fryers, and that is soooo cwazy!

                      lol

                      1. re: Pixie Muse
                        linguafood Aug 5, 2011 05:15 PM

                        Wow. Not sure I understand that sentence (?) entirely, but.... so you only eat stuff raw, steamed, boiled, poached or baked?

                        And the $10,000 question remains..... Why Do You Not Fry? Why Oh Why?

                        1. re: linguafood
                          Pixie Muse Aug 5, 2011 05:48 PM

                          The "Why Oh Why" has me smiling. So sweet :=)

                          1. re: linguafood
                            Pixie Muse Aug 5, 2011 05:50 PM

                            I omitted the word "people" before the word "judge".....no wonder you could not understand the sentence. Thanks for pointing that out lingua.

                            1. re: Pixie Muse
                              linguafood Aug 6, 2011 09:10 AM

                              You've omitted the most important part - your reason for not frying.

                      2. re: linguafood
                        westernmeadowlark Aug 5, 2011 05:00 PM

                        chicken picatta is the standby, go to, gotta have something delicious in 10 minutes dish at our house. extra capers please!

                      3. 4
                        4Snisl Aug 5, 2011 06:39 AM

                        I marinated chicken breasts this way to go on the grill, but they would probably be tasty broiled or roasted:
                        olive oil
                        lemon zest (lots of it!)
                        zaatar (I haven Penzey's blend)
                        a little brown sugar
                        cajun seasoning
                        salt (easy on this if your cajun blend and zaatar blend include salt)
                        black pepper
                        cayenne pepper
                        minced garlic
                        fresh mint
                        fresh oregano
                        fresh marjoram
                        fresh parsley

                        If you need proportions, I can guesstimate.

                        I served them warm with a "relish" of chopped parsley, golden raisins, scallions, kalamata olives, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and lemon zest. It's one of my favorite condiments to make for fish or chicken.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: 4Snisl
                          Pixie Muse Aug 5, 2011 02:07 PM

                          Great 4sn, I have the ingredients and will try this tomorrow

                        2. w
                          wattacetti Aug 5, 2011 06:02 AM

                          Chicken breast, schmaltz if you have it (butter if you don't), thyme, salt, pepper. Place into sous-vide bag. Throw it into a 140-145ºF water bath for 90 minutes.

                          Slice and serve on some braised Savoy cabbage (there's another active thread on what to do with a Savoy cabbage).

                          You can use the juices from the bag as a basis for a sauce if you're so inclined, or leave aside.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: wattacetti
                            Pixie Muse Aug 5, 2011 02:06 PM

                            Thanks watt.....savoy cabbage is something I love.

                          2. r
                            Ripple Aug 5, 2011 03:19 AM

                            Pixie, here is one that we really enjoy! Season boneless/skinless breasts with s&p. Lay big beautiful sage leaves on top of the chicken, wrap in prosciutto and either pan fry or bake. Great with rice!

                            1. t
                              tastesgoodwhatisit Aug 4, 2011 11:47 PM

                              Part of the problem is that chicken breasts, particularly the boneless skinless variety, are often intrinsically bland. It's sort of the meat eater's version of pressed tofu - neutral tasting and inoffensive, but in need of serious work to taste spectacular. Unlike something like steak, or ham, or seafood, or roast beef, people don't generally eat unadorned chicken breasts and say "Wow, that's really good!".

                              About the only thing I've found that makes boneless skinless chicken breasts taste good on their own is frying. If you pan fry them over medium low heat in a bit of olive oil until they are brown and carmelized all over (cover them for the first 5 or ten minutes of cooking to keep them juicy), then they actually have some flavour on their own.

                              Other that that, you can think of them as a fairly neutral protein to be jazzed up by strongly flavoured sauces, or marinated in a flavourful mix and put under the broiler.

                              Cut them into cubes, string on a skewer with some onion slices, marinate in garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and herbs, and either put on the grill or do under the broiler until they just start to char. Serve in a pita with some tatziki sauce on the side.

                              Tandoori chicken does put a fair amount of flavour onto the chicken, and works best with skinless chicken. You marinate the chicken in a mixture of yoghurt and tandoori spices, and then either grill or do under the broiler (or in a tandoor oven, if you have one :-) ), and serve with a squeeze of lime juice, and thinly sliced onions and tomatoes on the side.

                              Then there are the casserole stew type dishes. Chicken curries can be very flavourful (try butter chicken, or chicken tikka masala, or Thai green curry with chicken and eggplant).

                              1. mlou72 Aug 4, 2011 06:30 PM

                                One of the best thread titles here! Gave me quite a chuckle.

                                Exquisite, outstanding, and easy? Do you want them whole, do you mind cutting them up? Something with sauce, or just flavored chicken breasts? Stuffing them down your shirt?

                                I prefer chicken thighs, I'm one of those weird people who's not excited by white meat. Maybe you just need to switch chicken parts.

                                Off the top of my head, there's a recipe I haven't done in ages but was so easy and knocked your socks off. It might've been out of my old McCall's cookbook. You marinated chicken pieces in some lime juice/zest, black pepper marinade, then baked or grilled it. Man was that easy, and zingy. If you are interested, I'll pull my cookbook off the shelf.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: mlou72
                                  Pixie Muse Aug 4, 2011 06:44 PM

                                  Who said I want easy? ~ wink
                                  I want as complicated as it gets, or as easy as it gets - I just want to swoon a little.
                                  I want something original, because I was cursed with the picky eater syndrome for which there is no cure. (

                                  1. re: Pixie Muse
                                    greygarious Aug 5, 2011 01:17 PM

                                    Cluck a l'oeuf alongside an Oeuf a la Cluck, with a nod to Moore and Cook. http://www.davehitt.com/july99/frogsk.... Butterflied chicken breast rolled around a caviar omelet and pan-roasted, accompanied by an egg which is soft-boiled, after which the yolk is removed with a 16-gauge needle and syringe and replaced with a foam made from the breast tenderloin which has been sous-vided, and caviar. Original, complicated, and exquisite much? ;^D

                                    1. re: greygarious
                                      Pixie Muse Aug 5, 2011 02:02 PM

                                      This is absolutely brilliant =)

                                    2. re: Pixie Muse
                                      mlou72 Aug 5, 2011 01:31 PM

                                      "I keep buying them, because they "appear" easy to put together" ~ wink wink

                                      Okay so we're just looking for flavor sensations of any kind here? This sounds fun, I'm going to dig through my recipes.

                                      1. re: mlou72
                                        Pixie Muse Aug 5, 2011 02:03 PM

                                        Hurry, I can't wait. ! - (smiles)

                                    3. re: mlou72
                                      Pixie Muse Aug 4, 2011 06:47 PM

                                      Sorry I forgot to mention, not too saucy, but I can do some sauce, and I don't mind cutting at all, and I will stuff them down my shirt if they are exquisite.

                                    4. greygarious Aug 4, 2011 05:48 PM

                                      Here's a few thousand chicken breast threads: http://www.chow.com/search?query=%22c...

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: greygarious
                                        Pixie Muse Aug 4, 2011 06:05 PM

                                        Thanks Grey, yes I saw most of them but found nothing exceptional. I am drawn to very different, exquisite recipes, not your every day run of the mill:) But thanks anyway.!

                                        1. re: Pixie Muse
                                          b
                                          bte576 Aug 4, 2011 06:16 PM

                                          Not sure if your anti-bbq means the flavoring or the technique or both... This involves roasted chicken.
                                          Love her or hate her...we really enjoyed Rachel Ray's Italian Barbecue Chicken.
                                          http://www.rachaelray.com/recipe.php?...
                                          Probably not exquisite, but I just loved the pancetta and the fresh basil on top. i don't keep generic grill or poultry seasoning around, so I kind of did my own thing for the dry spices, but it was tasty.

                                          I also recently bought the spice sumac and have been loving it on poultry with olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice.

                                          1. re: Pixie Muse
                                            ChristinaMason Aug 4, 2011 06:18 PM

                                            When you rule out cheese, bbq-ing, and frying, you do tend to limit your options a bit. Are there other restrictions?

                                            1. re: ChristinaMason
                                              Pixie Muse Aug 4, 2011 06:45 PM

                                              Thanks Christina, glad you picked up on that... :)

                                              I don't like cheese, and I don't BBQ (yet), because the whole smoke thing concerns me, and I don't fry for obvious reasons. Other than that, I eat everything else ! I think.
                                              lol

                                              1. re: Pixie Muse
                                                cowboyardee Aug 5, 2011 06:57 AM

                                                If you want a challenge - or at least to try a new method of cooking - my absolute favorite way to cook chicken breasts is to cook em sous vide to 137 (can go a few degrees higher; but don't go much lower). Far more tender and flavorful than any other method I know of, still registers as fully cooked. Cook at least 75 minutes then rest and sear on all sides, or else cook for 100 minutes without searing. A little good olive oil in the sous vide bag is often a good idea. All you really need for such a basic application is a ziplock freezer bag, a big stockpot, and a good thermometer.

                                                You can pick the sauce, spices and accompaniments, though I'm sure I can come up with something if you are drawing a complete blank.

                                        2. g
                                          gordeaux Aug 4, 2011 05:42 PM

                                          Jerk paste on, and under the skin overnight, then smoke em up.

                                          1. n
                                            nvcook Aug 4, 2011 05:05 PM

                                            I take boneless, skinless breasts and butterfly them so they open like a book (but not all the way through). Stuff them with pesto, guyere (or swiss) cheese, close them up and wrap with a slice of prosciutto. Put a dab of butter on top and bake.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: nvcook
                                              Pixie Muse Aug 4, 2011 06:05 PM

                                              Sounds lovely )

                                            2. 0
                                              02putt Aug 4, 2011 02:51 PM

                                              If they are bone in with skin on (breasts) I have the butcher debone them for me. This way the skin stays in tact. I marinade them in a a really good greek salad dressing overnight. I then stuff them under the skin. Different combinations I have used is goats cheese, roasted red peppers, or feta, and sundried tomatoes. The skies the limit. I throw mine on the BBQ or in the oven and baste with some more dressing so the skin gets nice and crispy.
                                              I have also removed the skin and bone myself and made chicken tikka misala. You can also make chicken schnitzel buy slicing the breasts horizonal and bread with seasoned panko crumbs. Chicken masala is also great with a risotto. For chicken pieces I have breaded them with panko and parmesan, spray with melted margerine or butter and bake. I then throw them on the BBQ and serve with a dipping sauce. Jamaican Jerk Chicken is to die for as well.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: 02putt
                                                Pixie Muse Aug 4, 2011 06:09 PM

                                                Yes agreed, I get them without bone as well. Greek salad dressing, home made?
                                                How do you make your jamaican jerk chicken? (I don't BBQ or fry)

                                                1. re: Pixie Muse
                                                  0
                                                  02putt Aug 4, 2011 11:22 PM

                                                  I marinade it over night and then grill it but I see no reason why you can't do it in the oven or an electric grill. I know you said you do not fry foods but the oil is required in the marinade. I use olive oil. I have a recipe from a book I purchased when I was in Jamaica but there are a lot of recipes that are similar on the net. Most recipes on the net are poor imitations. I made this chicken with cod fritters when we were having our house painted. The workers, Jamaican, gobbled it up and didn't leave any for the boss who went to check on another job he had on the go. They told me it was just like their mama's back home. The one fellow said it made him a bit home sick. One of the best compliments I have ever received. This is the closest recipe I could find on line. http://foodjamaica.net/2008/04/17/gri... You can play with the spices if you like. I cut back on the salt and use low sodium soy sauce as I do not normally eat a lot of salt so when something contains quite a bit I really notice it. I was told to limit my salt intake had no choice but to resort to no salt. I use it when cooking if a dish is missing a little salty flavor but would never recommend putting it on food as a seasoning after it is cooked. It does have a strange taste. But in a marinade or sauce it tends to mellow. (If you are on blood thinners you have to check with your doctor as it contains potassium chloride which may interfere with the medication.)
                                                  Again, I use a fantastic greek dressing that contains no sodium from Healthy Heart Market online. That way I can sneak a little feta and not feel totally guilty.

                                                  1. re: Pixie Muse
                                                    s
                                                    soupkitten Aug 5, 2011 02:41 PM

                                                    easy homemade greek dressing: 1 part fresh lemon juice, 1 part red wine vinegar, 2 parts evoo. few cloves garlic minced or smashed and thrown in. dried oregano and sea salt to taste. dab of dijon mustard optional but will help dressing emulsify/cling to dressed foods. whisk all or shake in jar. refrigerate up to 5-7 days.

                                                2. ROCKLES Aug 4, 2011 01:28 PM

                                                  one of my families favorites (though I do make my own pesto sauce rather than store bought)

                                                  http://www.food.com/recipe/baked-pest...

                                                  I also like pesto chicken salad

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: ROCKLES
                                                    Pixie Muse Aug 4, 2011 06:10 PM

                                                    Looks nice, but sadly I don't eat cheese...(See how complicated this gets? lol)

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