Monday, November 22, 2010

How I cook chicken breasts

Chicken was once banned from my house. 

Well, raw chicken was banned.

I didn't like to touch it and I never felt I could get anything clean that touched that raw chicken.

A few years ago I had to start eating chicken at home, I just couldn't have all the pasta I was eating!

So I started buying chicken breasts and tried many different ways to cook them so that they would still be juicy.

Fail. Fail. Fail.

I thought I was doomed to eat dry chicken.


Then I came up with this way to cook chicken and I love it!

Wanna see?

Here are the the cast of characters.

A large package of split chicken breasts with ribs and skin. (about $2.50 lb)
Chicken stock (mine is a homemade frozen cube) + water
skillets that can go into the oven.

Take the chicken out of the package and put it directly into the pan.  Don't wash it, don't cut it, don't do anything to it.   This means no raw chicken on anything but the pan that going into the oven.

I fill up the measuring cup with water & the stock cube.  Microwave until the cube has melted and incorporated into the water.  I pour half the stock into one pan and half into the other and then continue filling the pans to half - three quarters with water.  

Here they are all filled and ready to bake.

Bake on the center rack 350º for about 40 minutes or until a meat thermometer into the middle of the thickest part of the breast reads 170º

...or really close! 

The water has mostly boiled away keeping the oven steamy and not allowing the chicken to dry out.  The skin keeps the outside of the chicken breast from becoming a piece of leather.

I use tongs and take the breasts out of the pans onto a plate.  I suggest a plate with a little lip on it as the chicken may hide a bit of water.

I allow the chicken to cool off a bit.

When the chicken has barely cooled, because I can't wait, I wash my hands and then I pull off the skin and get as much of the meat off the bones as I can.  By the time I get to the last breast they have cooled enough that I stop wincing at the heat :^)  or maybe my hands are just immune by that time!

If I'm planning on using the chicken breasts immediately, then I just peel off the skin and give a tug on the breast meat and pull it off the bone.  It's really that easy.   I don't worry about cleaning all the little bits off the bone right now.  I toss all of the remaining chicken and bones into a container and put in the fridge and get ready to eat my dinner.  

The little bits and pieces of chicken that are left on the bones are just so good.  I use them in my chicken salad, so it doesn't matter that it's not in the perfect chicken breast shape. 

The chicken is so moist, juicy, delicious.  It's not loaded with salt because my chicken stock is not salty.  The chicken isn't tasteless because it was cooked with stock and bones and skin.  There's a real flavor that was baked right in. 

When I discovered this method (which I'm sure isn't new, but I had never seen it done before) I was elated that I could have chicken that was good for days because it wasn't dry.  I could freeze it and it didn't dry out. 

Are you catching a theme here? 

I don't like dry chicken.

On to the stock -

I save all of the bones and a piece of skin or two because this is what I use to make my chicken stock.  I usually save up two or three batches of chicken bones as well as celery tops and carrots and I put them all together in a big pot to make my stock.

It does take a little bit of time to take all of the chicken off the bones, but it's worth it for the taste and frankly, for the price!  I have been known to come home with several large packages of chicken because it was on sale for $1.50 a pound. 

I don't feel bad if I do miss some of the meat on the bone, it'll just be more flavor for my chicken stock!

Add water and boil for awhile.  (30 minutes)

Then I allow it to low boil for awhile.  (an hour or so)

Usually until the liquid has been reduced by half. 

Then I strain out all of the bones and veggies.

It's really easy.

But I do set a timer so that I don't forget I have it on the stove!

I pour it into a large glass measuring cup and put in the fridge.  The little particles settle to the bottom and the fat all goes to the top.  After a few hours I take the fat off the top, pour the thick gel into large ice cube trays (mine are 4 big cubes per tray) and freeze.  I pop those out in a few days and put them in a baggie - then back in the freezer.  I will have lots of homemade chicken stock, no preservatives, no MSG, no additional cost, ready to use in my freezer.


Ann in the UP said...

Great method! I don't like dry chicken either....

Ruth Ann said...

MMmmmm that sounds and looks great! We eat a lot of chicken here and I'm like you, I'm afraid that whatever touches the chicken will not get clean. After touching the raw chicken I wash (like a surgeon ready for surgery) up to my elbows trying to remove the raw chicken germs! lol I'm making beef tips tonight, and I have the best recipe for it...the whole house smells yummy! Have a great week!
-Ruth Ann

Debby@Just Breathe said...

I love a moist chicken breast. You always seem so neat and organized in your cooking. Your methods are very simple and the items always sound delicious. Thank you for sharing your tips.

Joye said...

Yay! After you told me about your method the other day, I tried it on my own. Mine looks like yours (except I didn't have the frozen cube...I used that paper container kind of broth) Making Chicken Tetrazzini tomorrow. :-)