Get Moist Flavorful Chicken Every Time
If you are anything like me, you are incorporating a lot more boneless skinless chicken breasts into your diet as a healthy option for the new year.
Truth be told, I never liked the chicken breast much… it was often dry, flavorless and sometimes tough or rubbery… blech
Then I learned how to cook chicken (including the breast) in a way that kept it moist, flavorful and enjoyable and it is sometimes one of my favorite cuts to work with.
So, if you have a hankerin’ for some GOODe chicken… check out the followin’ tips
Use a Thermometer
First up, the non-negotiable… if you want the no-fail way to great chicken you have got to make sure you don’t cook it to death…
And I wouldn’t recommend under-cooking it unless you want a date with your bathroom in about 6-72 hrs… just sayin’
So, what is a cook to do…
FoodSafety.gov says that chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees (at the meatest part of the cut)… anything beyond that is preference. I prefer 170 when grilling breasts. Some meat thermometers recommend 185, which is the setting I use with legs and thighs.
Use a thermometer…
I know, I know…
It seems so hall monitorish and none of us like to be told what to do… but it REALLY does make a huge difference.
You see, not all meat is the same thickness and not all grills, stove tops and ovens grill/fry/bake the same… so, for a recipe to call for that chicken to be grilled for X minutes at X heat could mean totally different things depending on what you are working with… and it can mean the difference between a delectable dish or a dry disaster or a night trapped on the bathroom floor.
Case in point, I recently grilled up a batch of chicken breast on my grill. Using my thermometer I clearly found that the majority of my chicken was done 10 minutes before two stubborn pieces that had thicker parts to them. If I had just “eyeballed” it, I would have either served two under-cooked pieces or I would have dried out the rest of my chicken waiting on the not-there-yet pieces to catch-up.
As a side bonus, I love that my thermometer (thanks for the awesome find Miss Denise) has an alarm on it and can keep track of what is going on in my oven or on my grill with the door/lid shut. That means I don’t have to watch the clock and have “Oh Shoot” moments… I just listen for it to holler at me when my chicken reaches the temperature I set it at… brilliant invention.
Soaking your chicken in a marinade is a great way to build complex flavors that are only enhanced by cooking the chicken until it is perfectly tender and juicy.
Marinades can be for just an hour, a few hours, overnight or even frozen. Check with the recipe.
Psst… tomorrow I will be sharing an awesome Basil Lime Marinade.
Perhaps a lesser used way to take your chicken up a notch would be the double marinade…
In this case, you marinade your chicken and cook (disposing of the original marinade juices) your chicken. Then you add another batch of marinade to the chicken as a sauce. Our Basil and Tomato Marinade is a great example of this… as is the inspiration recipe to the Basil Lime Marinade I will share tomorrow.
Try a Different Cut
While chicken breasts are a great option for protein come meal time, there are other cuts, such as a boneless, skinless thigh that are actually lower in calories (110 vs. 130) and give your mouth something new to chew on so to speak
They are a little higher in fat (4g vs 1.5g), but they are a relative healthy treat at the dinner table.
We love them in this Beer Bottle Chicken recipe and we have even started using them in an adapted lower fat version of our family favorite: Italian Stuffed Chicken (I will have to post the adapted version sometime).
Use Your Slow Cooker
Trying to tackle a whole chicken?
Do yourself a favor and plug in your Crock Pot.
(Note: These days I switch out my herbs for those grown at home with my oh-so- awesome AeroGarden and use my own “Pam” by using an Olive Oil Mister but the results are the same and I still use copious amounts of my beloved Lawry’s )
Psst… don’t forget to save those bones and skin to make some yummy Homemade Chicken Stock for your freezer.
Plan a Visit
There are just some things (Read: Fried Chicken) that are better left to the pros… and fried chicken is something best enjoyed at my Mother-In- Law’s kitchen table… just sayin’. And, while she is a fantastic host, we’re keepin’ her to ourselves, so you are on your own on this one I did hear there was this Colonel somewhere who fries up a decent batch… maybe in Kentucky, is it?
So what is your favorite way to have your chicken? Any tips for us?
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