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Store bought vs restaurant chicken

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I'm just curious how the restaurants are able to acquire such uniformly shaped chicken breasts (boneless). What I purchase at the store is rather large and almost always tough.  The restaurant chicken is rarely tough. 

 

Is there a secret in the chickens they use or do they all marinate in something that makes them tender?  I'd love to know the secret to having tender, juicy chicken either from the grill or oven.

 

Thanks,

Rut

post #2 of 9

It depends on which "restaurants" you mean.  If you mean the wonderful chef-run restaurant downtown that cooks everything from scratch then you have a very competent cook staff that know how to break down a chicken, then butterfuly the breast, season it perfectly and cook it so that it is tender and juicy.

 

But if you mean Applebuds, Chilly's, or Pizzeria Una's chain restaurants there is something else entirely going on.  David Kessler is the author of "The End of Overeating,"  a book that describes the food industry's process of making our food more palatable.  Here I quote "In many cases, the preparation of the dish begins in the factory, where the meat is processed, battered, fried and frozen. Like many processed meats, chicken can contain as much as 19% of a water/sugar based solution, and salt is added as well. More salt and other spices are added before the battered chicken is prebrowned in oil and frozen. At the restaurants, the meat is deep-fried in oil again before it's served."  

 

Not all chicken is deep fried for example but it is at least injected with a solution of salt/sugar/fat at the very least if not more.

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post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

I guess I was referring to the grilled chicken at most chain restaurants.  So you figure they are injected and it has nothing to do with the bird quality?

How do you take those huge boneless breasts from the local grocer and make them tender for grilling or baking?

post #4 of 9

Restaurants like a bird a certain weight like Thomas Keller likes 4lb. chickens.  It's really hard to find a chicken that small in the store because everything has to be "super stuffer", or "oven stuffer" sized.  It also depends on where they source their product from.  Chain restaurants might have a processor that caters to them specifically.  

 

As for making chicken tender and more flavorful brining might be your answer.  Or you can marinate them in any concoction you desire.

post #5 of 9

@rutledj

Plumping has become the norm with chicken. 15% is supposed to be the guideline, but it's more. So if you buy a 5 lb. chicken you are paying

for at least 12 oz. salt water that may have a little flavor. Usually more sodium then anyone needs. The big breast are a result of genetically modifying the birds to have large breast. Problem is they have more muscle and less fat. 

Restaurants that buy in breasts usually specify what ounce they want. So you can get a case of 4-5 oz. breasts.

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post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by rutledj View Post
 

I guess I was referring to the grilled chicken at most chain restaurants.  So you figure they are injected and it has nothing to do with the bird quality?

How do you take those huge boneless breasts from the local grocer and make them tender for grilling or baking?

 

I'm afraid so.  You may want to read that book, it's fascinating how our food supply is engineered these days.

 

The key to tender chicken breast is simple: don't overcook it and make sure it is cut into a shape that has even thickness through out.  Butterflying works really well for this and there are videos that are easy to follow like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySB2jgO1ljU

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #7 of 9

Have you considered butchering your own breast or using the whole bird?  I really like the smart chicken brand.

post #8 of 9

Chicken breast done-ness is a matter of contention. Personally I don't cook my breast to 165. I still like the breast meat to be juicy and tender, so I will pull the breast out at 150-155 degrees. The meat "just changed" from pink to whitish.....

 

Chicken breast can dry out so fast simply by being over cooked.

 

In my neck of the woods, fresh chicken breasts are huge.

One lobe by itself is almost a pound.

 

My take is that many places use those breasts as described above, but f you want to try to attain the same results, you may consider a brine.

post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefross View Post
 

Chicken breast done-ness is a matter of contention. Personally I don't cook my breast to 165. I still like the breast meat to be juicy and tender, so I will pull the breast out at 150-155 degrees. The meat "just changed" from pink to whitish.....

 

Chicken breast can dry out so fast simply by being over cooked.

I do too. 165 -170  is too done for me.

 

I'll also say that if a fresh chicken breast is cooked correctly, it should be tender and moist. If it is, then it's overcooked or is an old and tired piece of chicken - at least in my experience, anyway. I would also suggest to follow the "rest" guidelines as they apply to poultry as well. 


Edited by jake t buds - 8/29/15 at 3:00pm
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