A Chicken Emergency.
A recent sale on SKINLESS bone-in split chicken breasts at my local grocery (a meager 89 cents per pound!) was something, as a thrifty mother of 3, I could not pass up on.. despite my dislike of skinless chicken. My mother, having seen the same sale, decided to buy me 3 packages as well. I am now the (proud?) owner of upwards of 20 lbs of skinless, bone-in chicken breasts.
I would not consider these suitable for roasting as-is, as in my opinion they would likely turn out dry as a bone despite my best efforts. Therefore I appeal to you, yes you... what should I do with these damn things? I haven't been very inspired in the kitchen as of late, and rather than dig through the mountains of perhaps good, perhaps not recipes on the Internet, I'll be happy to take some of your recommendations.
You can marinate them. One place I worked we marinated the chicken breasts to ensure they would remain moist when cooking. I just put a bit of oil, lemon juice, few cloves of garlic, and whatever herbs you have. We always had fennel fronds that were otherwise thrown out so I'd include them and then rosemary or thyme. I tried to marinate for 24 hours, but even an hour would help.
re: C. Hamster
There's a few factors at play. Much of today's chicken is, in my opinion, without much taste. If you go with small farms, free-ranged, etc., then yes, there's some great stuff available. But the typical value grocery store family packs on sale for a $1 a pound type stuff, it's fairly bland. With breasts, yes, you can cook it very carefully and have a moist and tender piece of meat - but it's still fairly bland and tasteless if it's that grocery store value pack sort of thing.
I've gone the way of crockpot for chicken on occassion. For thighs, it works fairly well. Generic thighs with some aromatics cooked until tender make a good stew. With breasts, it's a matter of your expectations vs convenience. I've put breasts in the CP to make stews. They were generic breasts, on sale. Bland and tasteless, but a protein source. It was more about the other ingredients + conveniece. The final product was good, even very good, though the chicken was clearly not the star attraction. If it's a good to very good chicken, then it would not go near a crockpot.
That said, we all have different limits and tradeoffs with convenience and expectations.
re: C. Hamster
Braise a little extra and use for chicken salad - just chunk or shred the chicken, mix up a little mustard into some mayo and add a pinch of one or two dried herbs (celery leaves and dill are nice, or just a bit of oregano) - mix into the chicken to moisten it. Add some minced onion or shallot and diced celery, let it sit in the fridge 'till the next day and either fill tomatoes with it or make as sandwiches.
I assume you are freezing most of them, right? I use them lots of things. I drizzle with olive oil, add seasonings and bake. They turn out great. You can make a skin by wrapping with, then roasting.
Pound flat, saute, or bread for chicken parm.
Cut up and use in stir fry.
Poach and use in a variety of ways.
Slice, bread, oven bake for chicken strips.
Cut a slit into them and stuff.
Spread with mustard, sprinkle with crumbs, bake.
As long as you don't over cook them, and add a bit of fat or breading, they are just fine.
Thank you for your replies thus far. It is just unfortunate, because skin-on bone-in chicken breasts can be SO delicious when breaded and baked to just done, the skin is so yummy and the meat nice and juicy. So the lack of skin is what worries me the most. I avoid skinless boneless breasts like the plague, and if looking for a "cutlet" I always opt for thighs..
I will, however, be trying some of these methods listed. Thank you! Sometimes one gets into a culinary rut. :)
You can bread and bake boneless, skinless chicken breasts without drying them out [as long as you don't overcook] .... To answer your query: My favorite thing to do is slice the chicken up into chunks or strips, heat up some EVOO and garlic, and fry it with sliced kalamata olives and red onion. Put in warmed pita bread and a little feta and you have an easy meal.
I bake them with jarred pesto and add slices to salads made with all kinds of tasty things. Basically any salad you like can become a meal with this addition of protein. Easy week night dinner in warmer weather. Not sure how fussy/old your kids are but I got mine eating salad by trying sweeter dressings, currently a (storebought) yogurt-based honey dijon is a favourite, then of course I can use whatever dressing I prefer on my serving.
Bone/butcher the breasts and freeze in manageable portions for family dinners, i.e. 4 frozen breasts per foil/zip-lock package in the freezer. Also consider freezing individually on sheet pan and then transfer them into a larger Zip-Lock Freezer Bag. for greater convenience.
Save the bones for stock or soup.
Bake the chicken or make Cacciatore....
While I agree that I prefer the bone-in breasts with skin on, baking them shouldn't be a problem so long as you're religious about the timing.
I bake boneless skinless chicken breasts frequently - stuffed or plain (at 350 for about 25-30 minutes +/- depending on size) - & they always turn out moist & flavorful. I lightly butter or oil the baking dish, then add a little chicken broth or white wine, then the chicken. Timing & frequent checking is of the essence.
Regardless of cooking method, the number one contributor to dryness in meat is overcooking it. An overcooked braised chicken breast will be dryer than a properly cooked baked chicken breast.
Here is your key to moist chicken breast regardless of cooking method or the presence or lack of skin: Cook the chicken breasts to 150 degrees F then immediately remove them from the heat.
Carryover cooking will carry the breast a few more degrees, but it need not to. Chicken breasts are perfectly safe to eat at 150 degrees F (you could even go as low as 147 degrees F).
As a side not, dark meat is perfectly safe to eat at 160 degrees F.
I feel your pain! I never have much luck with chicken breasts but like you always find it hard to resist the siren song of 89 cents/pound.
Have you tried brining? It does wonders and is much more forgiving if you -- as I often do -- over cook a bit.
With that said, the best thing I've found to do with these is slice into thin cutlets (I'm assuming these are those gigantic supermarket chicken breasts), pound even, bread and pan fry. Then they can be chicken parm, chicken piccata, or any number of other dishes.
I, recently, bought some split chicken breasts. I didn't buy as many as you but here is what I would do.
Get your boning or at least a sharp paring knife and debone them. Have your crockpot all set up with water in it and toss all the bones and scraps into the crockpot for stock. Once you debone them, you will find 2 chicken tenders per package and a couple of boneless chicken breasts per package. Chop the tenders put them in ziploc bags and freeze them. Use them for stirfry or pilafs and risottos. Cut some of the breasts in half horizontally and pound them into cutlets. Freeze those in ziploc bags, too. Use them for chicken marsala, chicken Kiev or chicken cordon bleu. Cut some of the breasts in strips for fajitas.
I find that the boneless skinless breasts typically stay more moist if you bread & sautee them, rather than baking them. Here is my basic recipe for sautee-ing the breasts, either coated in flour or bread crumbs (I use storebought Italian seasoned, typically, but you can use whatever is handy -- home-made, Panko, cracker crumbs, whatever.)
Sauteed Boneless Chicken Breasts
Boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
egg (one per 4 one-half breasts), beaten
flour or seasoned bread crumbs
olive or canola oil
1. Place chicken breast half flat on cutting board. Slice in half horizontally – i.e,. moving knife through breast parallel to cutting board. Use a sharp knife and place other hand flat on top of breast to keep it from moving. Don’t worry if one “half” is thinner than the other. (By cutting the breast in half to make it thinner, it will be more tender and cook faster than if you leave the breasts intact.)
2. Season chicken with salt & pepper. Dip first in egg, and then dredge in bread crumbs or flour.
3. Heat oil in skillet on medium high heat.
4. Place chicken in pan and cook about 4 minutes per side, until golden brown. Don’t over crowd pan.
5. Remove chicken onto platter and set aside.
Using that recipe as a base, you can then make any of the following:
Sauteed chicken breasts, coated with flour
juice of 1-2 lemons
¼ cup white wine
2 tbs butter
1. After removing chicken breasts from pan, pour out any excess oil so that pan is just coated with oil.
2. Return pan to burner on medium high heat, and add wine. Deglaze any brown bits and stir so that it dissolves into wine. Allow wine to reduce by about ½.
3. Add lemon juice and stir.
4. Remove from flame, add in butter and stir until melted.
5. Add capers if desired.
6. Serve sauce over chicken, or on side.
Boneless Chicken Breasts, with Vegetables & Sauce
Sauteed chicken breasts, coated either with flour or bread crumbs
one medium onion, chopped
mushrooms, sliced (optional)
baby carrots, or large carrots cut into “baby size” (optional)
green vegetable such as green beans, asparagus, or broccoli, cut into bite size pieces (optional)
¼ cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth
½ tsp. Herbs de Province (or mixture of dried or fresh thyme, oregano, basil)
1. After removing chicken, pour out excess oil but leave enough to sautee vegetables.
2. Scatter onion, mushrooms, and carrots in pan and sautee over medium high heat until onions are translucent.
3. Add wine, stirring to deglaze pan, and until liquid is reduced by about ½.
4. Add chicken broth and increase heat. Add in green vegetables. Stirring occasionally, allow liquid to boil so that it thickens to a sauce-like consistency, about 5-10 minutes total. Add in additional broth if sauce evaporates too much
5. Serve sauce poured over chicken or on side. Best served with a short, tubular pasta such as penne or rigatoni.
Sauteed chicken breasts, coated in Italian seasoned bread crumbs
red sauce (homemade or jarred)
mozzarella cheese, shredded
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Arrange sautéed chicken breasts in single layer in oven-proof baking dish.
3. Ladle red sauce over chicken.
4. Generously top with shredded cheese.
5. Cook about 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and red sauce is bubbling.
no idea if this would appeal to you or not, but it worked many times for my family of young kids. if they weren't real fond of the vegetables used in the recipe, it's not hard to substitute for what your family would prefer. it's just a suggestion and will probably be feigned by some serious cooks and/or waned by others.
Lots of recs for braising but I wouldn't braise chicken breast--not enough fat or connective tissue. You could poach it, barely simmering water, being careful not to overcook. Use the meat for chicken salad or whatever. Put the bones back in and finish cooking so you have stock. You could also just add the chicken meat back into the stock and have chicken soup. Or, use the stock to make a curry sauce and add the chicken back into that. Or, use the stock to make risotto and add the chicken to that, at the end.
I was gonna suggest poaching. I was surprised how tender and delicious naked chicken breast meat is when poached just to done - feels like the tip of your nose when you poke it, and maybe the faintest blush inside. For keeping large quantities I'd poach a few at a time - about 10 minutes in simmering water - and scoop them out into a pan of ice water, then freeze in zip bags (squeeze all the air out!) maybe a pound or so per each.
Those chicken schnitzels look pretty darned good too!
A few thoughts:
1) Some can be poached (gently), and diced for chicken salad. This works for me really well.
2) An extension of this is to gently poach in a wine + vegetable combination, with the pan at a gentle simmer. Some water, white wine, a chopped up onion, carrot, celery, and perhaps some other aromatics (I've done fennel and/or Pernod), set at a lowest of low simmers, will gently cook the breast, add flavor, and leave it moist and tender.
3) I haven't had good luck braising boneless/skinless. Not enough fat and connective tissue, and it always comes out stringy. I suppose it's possible to braise to the exact point of doneness, but before the fibers get too hot, shrink, and squeeze out moisture, but then that takes a lot of pot watching, and negates one of the advantages of braising. This same thought goes for crock pot - in my experience, chicken breasts in a crock pot turn out stringy. It just gets too hot in a crock or braise, and tends to stay there for too long unless you watch it like a hawk.
4) I've had the best luck with S/B chicken breasts, other than gently poached, by adding spices or a marinade, putting in a shallow pan, covering tightly with foil, and baking. These actually turn out very well, with as much flavor as you can expect from a commercially produced lean chicken breast (which is not much), but at least the meat is moist and tender.
I usually do a marinade of olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, oregan, and S&P. Let it sit at least 30 mins and up to overnight. Then, grill on the grill pan (or bbq if you have) or bake in the oven at 350 (usually in the same dish I marinated along with the marinade, because I am lazy). I do stick an oven-proof thermometer in the thickest part of the breast and pull it when it hits 160-165F. I find if I don't let it get above that, the meat stays juicy. I slice the meat and use it in wraps or on top of Caesar or Greek salads.
Another thing to try is velveting, esp for stir-fries. (http://chinesefood.about.com/od/cookingtechniques/f/velvetchicken.htm)
Gonna try poaching a bunch of boneless skinless breasts in the next couple of days. Even if you overcook it a bit, if you shred it and mix it up in a sauce for sandwiches/wraps, you probably won't notice it.
Some ideas for what to do with poached meat (I usually do this with left-over roasted chicken, but it's the same idea). Basically you want to shred the meat or chop it fine, and put some kind of fat in the sauce, to help cover up any dryness in case you overshoot the temperature:
- Buffalo: mayo, hot sauce, shredded carrot, sliced celery, top with red onion & crumbled bleu cheese. Maybe in a wrap with some crisp lettuce.
- Chinese-style: hoisin, oyster sauce, sweet chili sauce, dash of soy sauce & sesame oil, wrap in lettuce leaves.
- Korean style: brown shredded cooked chicken in a little sesame oil, add some red pepper paste (gokuchang) thinned with a bit of water. Then mix it up like bi-bim-bap - a bowl of rice with julienned & sauteed veggies (I usually do carrots, spinach, mushrooms, but you can use whatever), drizzle of soy sauce, sprinkle of green onion, topped with a fried egg. Mix it all up before eating.
- Tarragon chicken salad: cooked chicken, halved grapes, diced water chestnuts, chopped celery, mayo, tarragon-steeped vinegar (I just steep dried tarragon in rice vinegar, then use the vinegar and a little more dried tarragon). Chopped walnuts are nice, if you like.
- Tex-Mex fajitas: lots of guacamole, some salsa, shredded chicken, shredded cheese, between 2 tortillas and toasted on a skillet.
- Orange ginger chicken pasta salad. (recipe from here: http://www.sunterramarket.com/st/defa...)
They are good that way baked too.
For kids I sometimes do an old recipe called Great Chicken. Its just thawed breasts mixed up with lipton dry onion soup mix, russian dressing and orange marmalade. Or sub in cranberry sauce for marmalade. Dump the lot in pyrex and toss it in the oven. Sugar bomb, but it is very good. Serve over rice. You can get dinner together in like 10 minutes. We usually eat little trees along side. Ahem.. Broccoli.
Chicken in Spiced Tomato Sauce
A flavorful Middle Eastern-style dish, adapted from Faye Levy's recipe in the Jerusalem Post many years ago. I have made it many times, and everyone enjoys it, including my picky kids. The chicken comes out really moist because of the sauce.
2 tsp. olive oil
2 large onions, sliced thin
6 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
dash black pepper
800 gram can diced tomatoes, with their juice
1 kg chicken pieces (skinless work well; the sauce keeps them
from drying out)
1 can chickpeas, optional
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander or flat leaf parsley, optional
In a large roasting pan, mix well oil, onions, garlic and spices. Bake for 5-10 min at medium heat. (This makes your kitchen smell great!) Add chicken and tomatoes & mix well. Bake 1 hour uncovered, stirring occasionally. If it starts getting dry, add a little water. Can be refrigerated for a couple of days or frozen & reheated. Add the chickpeas and/or coriander, if desired, shortly before serving.
Serve with rice.
NOTE: To make this a one-dish supper, you can add leftover cooked vegetables, such as green beans or zucchini, to the sauce.
The best way I know of to keep chicken breasts moist is not to overcook them. Therefore, I always butterfly them, so that they are an even thickness throughout, and no more than 1/2" thick. I often saute them, and I find a non-stick skillet works well for this, because if I leave them in a stainless skillet long enough to properly color and release, they're usually overcooked. Grilling works well too. Usually, about 3 minutes per side over medium-high heat gives me perfectly cooked chicken. Also, you MUST let them rest for a good 5 minutes before cutting, or the juices will all run out and they'll be dry as a bone.
Anyway, I usually pan-saute or grill a few at once, seasoned only with salt, and then once they're cool, use them as I will. I find the texture of breasts cooked whole and then sliced is much better than sliced raw and then cooked, so I use my sauteed slices in stirfry (just toss in and allow to rewarm briefly with the vegetables), fajitas (toss with warmed marinade and vegetables), etc. I also like the flavor of sauteed or grilled chicken WAY more than poached for chicken salad - just cut into cubes and use in any chicken salad recipe (I especially like grilled chicken for this purpose).
I know in our house we would likely debone and make a couple different Indian curries out of them. Traditionally the meat is generally poached in the sauce, givin the results others are describing. Especially if they are the generally less flavourful supermarket chicken breasts.
Have an Indian feast and bag the rest in the freezer for emergency meals.
Chick and Broc Casserole: http://www.deepsouthdish.com/2010/05/chicken-broccoli-and-rice-casserole.html
Chicken enchilada pie - http://mexican.food.com/recipe/chicke...
Stir fry of 1000 interations
Marinated and grilled - do a pile of them and then use them thru the week and freeze a few to use later.
Chicken pot pie
chicken and broccoli alfredo over fettuccine
We eat so much chicken we have sprouted pin feathers and the beginnings of beaks.
You MIL - Sweet and thoughtful.
You are right---don't bake them uncovered or they will dry out. Options: 1) Poach them and use the meat in anything---chicken salad, tacos, sandwiches, chicken & noodles, chicken a la king, any casserole. 2) Wrap each one in a slice of bacon and bake them that way. 3) Put them in a baking dish and pour over them a can of chicken gravy; bake. 4) Lay broccoli in bottom of baking dish, then the chicken breasts, a can of cheese soup on top of all, bake. 4) BBQ chicken pizza: a pizza crust, the chicken meat, some bottled BBQ sauce, bake. 5) Or just bake them with BBQ sauce poured over. 6) Curried chicken in slow cooker---1/2 cup flour, curry powder and garlic powder to taste, 8 oz can tomato sauce, water, onion, chicken breast cut in chunks, a bag of frozen peas, cook a long time. 7) Arroz con pollo: cut breasts in chunks, brown, then in same frying pan brown some onions and peppers and mushrooms or whatever you have, put all in big baking dish with raw rice, fill dish with chicken stock, cover tightly with foil, bake. 8) Tandoori chicken: marinate chicken 24 hours in refrig with a container of plain yogurt per 1-2 tablespoons tandoori masala, bake on foil in very hot oven. 9) Saute with a bag of frozen pineapple, add some soy sauce, serve with rice.
First off freeze anything you aren't going to use in the next day or two. They will keep really well for the next month or two in zip bags and much longer if vacuumed sealed
I often like to slice a breast into very thin paillards which take just a few minutes to cook and have good texture when thin.
When my kids were young a dish they really liked we called chambord chicken. It was from a dish I had at a restaurant that was pounded chicken breast, breaded and pan fried then braised in a chambord sauce. The chambord was later subed with other sweet liquids, liqueurs or wine but my kids kept the name.
First of all, I'd freeze most of them -- individually wrapped so you cah take out the amount you need each time.
Whatever I'm cooking tonight, I'd either marinate or pound them flat, season with salt and pepper and dried herbes de Provence, and saute in olive oil with onions, garlic, mushrooms, a bit of white wine or dry Vermouth. Serve with noodles or rice. Be sure not to cook them too long. Boneless, skinless breasts are meant to be cooked quickly. They should take maybe 4-5 minutes per side. that's all.
Cannot imagine the waste there would be of ruining them by trying to stew them. thigh meat is a whole different story.