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Need to impress the boss

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Happy New Year! I have moved from a job running a small kitchen at a wine bar with no stove or oven to a job working a fully equipped functioning kitchen. Although our menu is very close to my last job I NOW have to really cook.
I can cook. I think I am better than **** good. I get the compliments from the clientele and the accolades from the boss. I am though not versed in cooking industrial style because I am not professionally trained but I still want to impress the boss !
What would be the best way to cook chicken, skinless boneless chicken, so it still hits 160 degrees but remains moist. Cooking slowly is what I would guess to be the best way but wanting color too. We have a cold case and I do cook food for it to sell, tis the season for heartier foods and I am on the path to WOW the chef. He needs to know that I know what I am doing.
Say 5 lbs of chix breast marinated with whatever, herbs or an acid or such. Just want the breast to be moist yet cooked. Thanx
post #2 of 11
harvest -

the only way I've ever "discovered" to consistently produce moist juicy chicken is a slow wet cook method.

I call my particular brand of chicken insanity "braised" chicken - I invite you to apply definition/term of your choice.

whole chicken, pot, water about 3/4 up the chicken, simmer. options: wine&water'; water with a vinegar splash; season to preference - extra salt helps because a lot washes away.

that's a whole chicken; methinks pieces could be done similar.

so, now you've got face coating juicy chicken, how to finger food finish:

obviously a dry off, high heat pan sear for color. frankly, I got me iffies about that idea.

dry, egg wash, dredge with coarse crumb, air dry.
double dip is an option here....
pan fry
deep fry

I like to do my fried chicken "in reverse" of the above - wash/dredge, pan fry for color & pretty, finish in a medium oven, on a rack. this is great for "all chicken done right now, sit yerself!"

for a more variable timing, the wet cook + crispy finish may be more appropriate.

and who ever heard of french fried stewed chicken? impress factor: +1
post #3 of 11
Assuming you have zero solution added chicken breast. Make a marinade. Taste it. Add salt and pepper. If you think it's the exact correct level, add a little more salt. Marinade it for a day, grill.
post #4 of 11
Kuan picked up on exactly what I picked up on: Boneless, skinless chix brsts. Take a look in the packaging they came in, at the ingredient list. If no soy protein, water, or sodium is listed then they are fairly un-molested.

However, if any of those ingredients ARE listed, then those poor things have been vacuum tumbled and have sucked up around 15%-20% solution. No matter how you cook then them, how long, or how high a heat, they will be rubbery and moist. They will also be salty.

Kuan suggests a marinade, which is great, but a short bath in a brine will work too. Grilling is great, so is searing off and finishing in the oven, basting every now and then with some kind of oil/fat/butter. Leaving the skin on the breasts would allow the skin to naturally baste the meat as it renders

Good food comes from good ingredients, IQF "pumped" breasts will only yield "meh, so-so" results, no matter how much effort you put into it.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #5 of 11
if you are looking to safely cook a chicken breast and add additional flavor id go with a good soak in a brine. even if you were to overcook the meat slightly you would still have a decently moist chicken breast.

you can marinade meat after you brine it to enhance the flavors it picked up in the brine as well. a marinade will only at most penetrate in an 1/8 - 1/4 of an inch into the meat your soaking. when a marinade hits the surface of meat, the muscle tissue unravels and expands where in some cases stops the penetration. where as the brine will denature the meat, turning collagen soluble or juicy rather than coagulating the collagen while cooking.
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
You know Dillbert, I was tossing that around in my head also. For such a creature to stay moist it has to be slow. I actually tried it that way but wasn't slow enough.

I think I will next time have it in my liquid and cover it. Cook low and slow for awhile so all the goodness gets inside and at the end introduce it to heat to color. ??!!

It's worth the try. I'LL let you know how it goes.
post #7 of 11
well, fwiw -

oiled/salted/peppered chicken, cavity stuff with onion/leek, aromatics as dictated by "what's looking needy" in the fridge - carrot/celery/parsley/dill/etc

water about 1/2 - 3/4 up the whole chicken, covered pot, veddy low simmer pushing four hours.

while it's still hot the chicken is at the falling off the bone stage. for party finger snacks I let it cool, refrigerate overnight, that firms up the meat so you can dissect it into pieces ala desired.

oh, I always leave the skin on; adds lots of flavor; easy to remove when done....
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
I see. Unfortunately we don't use anything but plain skinless boneless breast. I am going to also try the brine.

Im scoring points now. Thanks y'all.
post #9 of 11
Two things to remember. Brining is one key. You can cook fast, grilling, broiling, etc.; or any of several different versions of slow -- from barbecue (in a smoker) or a braise. The other key is DON'T OVERCOOK.

If I knew a little more about your menu, it might be possible to suggest some specific recipes and techniques. Offhand, I'd suggest brining in a solution with a lot of citrus and (a) grilling off the bone; and (b) smoking on the bone. A third, very nice technique is to lightly smoke, then bread and fry. Probably the most reliable is poaching. Unfortunately the product is uninteresting on its own -- but as chicken to work in some other dish, salad for instance, does quite well.

FWIW, the typical pitfalls in commercial preparation are overcooking, and storing and/or holding too long. Avoid them.

post #10 of 11
The old Chinese way to poach is different, and works even with mediocre chicken, though you'd have to experiment to figure out how to do it with boneless breasts.

Basically what you do is you cover a whole chicken with water, add seasonings, bring to a boil over high heat, simmer something like 5 minutes, and then shut off the heat and wait. When the water is room-temp, the chicken is done through and very moist.

I wonder if you could do this with breasts: cover with water, bring to a boil over high heat, then shut off the heat immediately. When it's room temp, it should be done. I'd worry that it would overcook, but I bet you could figure out something.

The thing is, the method makes the chicken moist but surprisingly firm, and all the cooking is fine in advance. Brine first if you want, put seasonings you want in the water, and when it's cool it's flavored one way. Remove, strain, and possibly do a thickish marinade or the like, and leave it alone. When it's time to serve, wipe off excess marinade, dust with your favorite starch, and pan-sear in smoking-hot oil. Or do starch, egg, and bread crumbs (panko are passably cool these days, and make nice frying crumbs), and deep-fry very quickly.
post #11 of 11
In James Peterson's book Sauces he has a recipe for chicken fricassee that I've made a couple of times. It is very good, basically a low, slow braise in butter and broth. It uses a whole, bone in, skin on chicken cut up, but I imagine something similar could be done with boneless, skinless breasts.

One thing I've been meaning to try is breaded and fried chicken breast cutlets using coarse ground almond meal instead of bread crumbs. To be honest that is what I was going to fix for dinner tonight, since for the last few days we've been eating leftovers from that beef roast I did for New Year's and it was time for something different. The almond crusted chicken was my intention when I stopped at the market. Somehow, though, I came out with the stuff to make a simple shrimp fettucini. Odd how that happens.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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