What is the best way to cook chicken breasts so they are tender and juicy?

Crispy
  • Posted by: Crispy
  • July 16, 2012
  • 12752 views
  • 25 Comments

25 Comments

Cook on the bone http://charlottejulienne.blogspot.com/2011/12/oven-roasted-chicken-with-saffron.html or sous vide
 
usuba D. July 18, 2012
@pierino - It is against USDA regs to allow more than 10% pick up of moisture (includes air-chilled, which most systems use sprayed water to facilitate chilling). I can tell you that it is hard to maintain that high a level in chicken especially organic, due to the rest time between chill tanks and packaging. They must declare the % of moisture pick on their labels by law. Rosie, which is now owned by Perdue Chicken company in Maryland, last I tried is a good chicken. Bell & Evans and Smart Chicken are the only two air chill that I am aware of at the moment.
 
Kristen W. July 18, 2012
Thanks for the suggestion, pierino. I am technically in a 'burb outside of San Diego and Whole Foods is a little outside of my usual rounds (I'm usually carting around a 3-yr. old with a short attention span so I try to keep the shopping ultra-local) BUT it's not really THAT far and it sounds like it's worth a try.
 
Kristen W. July 18, 2012
Well, glad to know it's not my imagination!
 
pierino July 18, 2012
If you live in San Diego, surely there is a Whole Foods close by. Go with their air dried chicken. Even with "organic" chicken up to 20% of body weight can be water and you don't really want to pay for that. It's a bigger problem with supermarket hens but just think about it.
 
AntoniaJames July 18, 2012
I find Empire to be really strange, too. I bought one and won't buy another. (I also thought it was too salty, even without any additional salt on my end.) ;o)
 
Kristen W. July 18, 2012
Never fear, I never re-salt kosher chicken! I often use them b/c it saves me the trouble of brining. I do sometimes find the texture to be kind of weird, and I don't know if it's a) a result of the kosher process, b) something specific about Empire brand, or c) my imagination. I was curious what others thought about Empire Kosher vs. these other organic brands.
 
Peter July 18, 2012
For what it's worth, my go-to chicken is Murray's which I brine. The few times I've used Empire I've also found it to have a slightly odd texture so it's not just you.
 
Kristen W. July 18, 2012
What do you think about Empire Kosher chicken (I live in San Diego and the only organic brands I see in the stores are Rosie's and Trader Joe's Free Range Organic; Empire Kosher seems like the only other option)?
 
Peter July 18, 2012
Kristen, quality aside, be careful when it comes to kosher chicken. Part of the koshering process is to pack the chicken in salt. This, in essence, brines the chicken for you (which is why kosher chicken is so yummy!). If you brine the chicken you're essentially double-salting it and will likely find it too salty for your liking.
 
usuba D. July 18, 2012
Murray is good, though Eberly is better.
 
usuba D. July 18, 2012
You can do all the recommended prep work, but in the end if you do not start with a high quality chicken, you may not get the results you desire. The way chicken is grown, the breed and how it is processed has a huge impact on the moistness, tenderness and flavour of the chicken. In all the years and (no exaggeration) hundreds of thousands of pounds of chicken I have cooked, I have proved this time and time again. At least start with a good organic chicken, which will have not been fed by-products that effect the quality and taste. Believe it or not, chicken needs to rest on the bone after slaughter to allow the meat to develop flavour and tenderness (same as aging beef or pork) . . .conventional chicken is rushed through and never rested. Look for names like Eberly Poultry (East coast), they take the time to process their organic chickens correctly. You may find that all the prep methods recommended will not be needed to give you the moist, tender chicken you seek.
 
Peter July 18, 2012
Usuba, Eberly is a bit hard to come by in my neighborhood. What do you think of Murray's Chicken?
 
jsdunbar July 18, 2012
If you have boneless, skinless breasts cook them en papier for 25 to 30 min at 325F. I season them with fresh herbs, perhaps a piece of lemon or a bit of wine or oil or even salad dressing before sealing each in baking paper. The juices are. are all preserved & unlike brining, no salt is needed.
 
pierino July 18, 2012
But salt is good. Cooking chicken by any method you still need salt or it will taste insipid. It doesn't season itself. Especially with the skin gone.
 
Kristen W. July 17, 2012
Oops, saw that ChefOno already implied that in his answer...
 
ChefOno July 17, 2012

Implied, yes, but you're absolutely correct and I should have been clear about that. They need a good 10 minutes' rest before carving lest too much juice will be left behind on the board.
 
Kristen W. July 17, 2012
And don't forget to let them rest after cooking!
 
wietje July 17, 2012
Try this: http://www.foodrepublic.com/2011/07/07/how-cook-juicy-chicken-breast
 
KatyM July 16, 2012
If you like garlic, I suggest adding some finely diced garlic (the kind that comes in its own juices.) I sauté my chicken breasts with freshly ground pepper, a mix of chipotle pepper and sea salt, and that garlic and my chicken breasts come out flavorful and juicy every time.
 

Voted the Best Reply!

ChefOno July 16, 2012

Purchase bone-in, skin-on breasts. The skin and the bone both add flavor while protecting the flesh from temperature extremes. If that's not enough incentive, you'll save money in the process over boneless / skinless breasts.

Brine the chicken before cooking. The process seasons the meat while simultaneously adding moisture. A basic brine: 1/4 cup non-iodized table salt, 1/4 cup sugar, 4 cups water, 30-60 min. Rinse and pat dry. (Do not add additional salt.)

Don't overcook. Use a digital thermometer and pull them just before they reach target temperature. It depends on the size of the breasts and the temperature at which they're being cooked, but generally pull at 160F for a final temperature of 165F.

Roast, grill or fry -- it's all good.

Did I mention using a digital thermometer?
 
Peter July 16, 2012
Add your answer hereI was going to suggest brining but see you beat me to it. Only difference in my brine is that I use no sugar (same salt and water ratio though) and I brine for a full 60 minutes.
 
ChefOno July 17, 2012

The sugar helps flavor, hydration and browning while offsetting saltiness to a degree. Incidentally, brines are an excellent carrier for other flavors. My favorite formula parallels one of Thomas Keller's and involves a 6-hour soak in garlic, lemon and herbs. Of course you have to back way off the salt concentration in such a case but the flavor penetrates completely through the bird.

 
pierino July 16, 2012
First of all, leave the skin on. And hopefully the breast bone is still attached. Skinless, boneless breasts are doom from the beginning. Saute in butter or olive oil or combination of both. You might want to dust them in Wondra (superfine) flour first. Season with salt and pepper. If the skin is still attached you can slide some herbs (like tarragon) under the skin before cooking or maybe a paper thin slice of lemon. Deglaze the pan juices with white wine.
 
Baked or boiled(poached). Are you cooking breast with the bone-in or boneless?
 
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