ULTIMATE CHICKEN BREAST
I do not like chicken breast unless it's prepared at a restaurant. I always cook it way too long and it dries out.
Thank goodness I subscribe to Cook’s Illustrated where I found this awesome way to make moist chicken breast. If you are also a fan of the publication, this mock “sous vide” method of cooking is in the May/June 2012 issue, page 20. In the original method, the kitchen tester required four, boneless, skinless chicken breasts that were 6 to 8 ounces and less than an inch thick. Unfortunately, the breasts do not come in that perfect size; I also inadvertently bought chicken with skin and bones. Thus, I had to improvise a bit. For breasts larger than 1-inch thickness, I cut on the horizontal-diagonal at the thickest part to decrease the thickness; that left me with a small piece and a large piece. Also, I used only three breasts and raised the water to about 175 degrees Fahrenheit instead of 170 degrees (just to be a bit more cautious).
The first recipe I used the breast in was a chicken salad with celery, onions, dried cranberries, chopped pecans, mayo, and seasonings. My husband said it was the best chicken salad he has ever had; I have to agree. I’m sure this chicken will go quite nicely with many hot and cold pasta and salad dishes. I’ll let you know as I try them.
I've applied this method using chicken breast with skin and bones, and the boneless/skinless varitey. I deboned the breast and removed the skin before cooking, cutting the chicken breast that were thicker than an inch. The cost is probably the same, though there is less effort in the boneless/skinless chicken. However, I do think there is a subtle difference between the two; starting with the skin-and-bone-in variety yields a slightly more tender, juicy chicken.
The open-faced sandwich above has become my favorite way to use this chicken breast. Toast one slice of sprouted-grain bread (I use Ezekiel bread in the orange bag), smear with 1 tablespoon of my homemade thousand island dressing, sprinkle a layer of fresh cilantro, top with four grape tomatoes sliced into thirds, apply about 1/4-cup alfalfa sprouts, drizzle a bit of fresh lemon juice and layer 2 ounces of sliced, very moist chicken breast. I round out this meal with a cup of skim milk.
6 cups of water, cold to the touch
2 tablespoons of granulated table salt
3 regular-sized chicken breasts with skin and rib bones, purchased “fresh” not frozen from the store;
Tools: medium to large pot; napkin-lined plate; digital thermometer for cooking
1. Pour the 6 cups of cold water into a pot. Add the 2 tablespoons of salt to the water.
2. Stir the solution until the salt dissolves.
3. Remove the skin. Cut as much of the breast away from the bone. Separate the tenderloin from the breast meat too (they come apart quite easily). If the breast is thicker than 1 inch, cut a horizontal-diagonal line across the thickest section so that you are left with a large breast, a small piece, and the tenderloin. Repeat for remaining two chicken breasts.
4. Place all of the chicken into the pot of salted water.
5. Put the pot, UNCOVERED, on the stove.
6. Turn the heat to medium heat.
7. Check the temperature of the water at multiple points once steam rises from the pot.
8. When the temperature of the water reaches between 170 and 175 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the pot from the stove and cover with a snug-fitting lid.
9. Keep the chicken in the covered pot for 17 to 20 minutes.
10. When the time is up, remove the chicken to a napkin-lined plate and cool in fridge for 30 to 60 minutes.
11. Cut into cubes for chicken salad or shred with your fingers for pasta.
For me, life is all about a positive mental outlook and having motivational tricks in my back pocket to stay happy, healthy, and productive. Here’s a quote I found in my all-time favorite inspirational book, Dale Carnegie’s Scrapbook – A Treasury of the Wisdom of the Ages.
“If this world affords true happiness, it is to be found in a home where love and confidence increase with the years, where the necessities of life come without severe strain, where luxuries enter only after their cost has been carefully considered.” – A. Edward Newton
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