pounding chicken gets stingy

I'm hoping someone can answer this question. I got "fresh" chicken boneless, skinless chicken breasts from the meat counter at the local grocery store. Since they were various sizes, I tried pounding them to get the to a consistent size for cooking times. Well as I was pounding them the breasts tended to split and in some places they got stingy looking. They were thick stings about 1/8" wide, but then instead of nice looking pounded breasts I had a mess of stringy meat,

What did I do wrong?
Pounded to hard?
Pounded to soft?
Wrong type of surface? I had a piece of plastic wrap on the bottom and top of them.
Bad quality meat?

I'm making Fajitas tonight and the breasts that we got are really thick and varous sized again. I'm thinking of pounding them to get them to a consistent size again for cooking times, but I'm afraid they will get stringy again.

  • Posted by: Rob
  • January 31, 2017


MMH February 2, 2017
Brine them
Rob February 1, 2017
I was using the flat side of a meat mallet. What I ended up doing was cooking the breasts in a skillet, until they were done. I then sliced the chicken into 1/4" strips, but they were to think, so I then turned them on their sides and sliced them 2 or 3 times so that I had 1/4" x 1/4" x (varying length) strips. While I was slicing the meat I started cooking the veggies in a different skillet, with the fajita seasonings. Once I had the chicken sliced, I then added it to the veggies and seasonings, and cooked therm for another couple of minutes, and luckily they turned out fine.

Thanks all for your help.

I have to add that these were LARGE breasts, each was in excess of a pound, so I think that may have something to do with it.
ChefJune February 1, 2017
Your answer could be any one of the things you listed, or a combination of any...
What were you using to pound them? I like to use a heavy, flat pan so that one or two thwacks is enough to flatten them. I also butterfly them if they are way too thick before pounding.
Liz D. February 1, 2017
I think some large chicken breasts are just coarser in texture--I bought some once that were very large, and were the cheaper supermarket brand, and after I cooked them the meat was very coarse-grained.
BerryBaby February 1, 2017
I have a chicken breast that is huge on one side. I will be slicing it in two and then pounding the pieces. I use the flat side of the pounder for chicken. As PieceofLayerCake stated, the side with teeth will shred chicken. I use that side for beef.

Voted the Best Reply!

PieceOfLayerCake January 31, 2017
I'm not sure if this is helpful, but sometimes when chicken breasts are too thick/large, I just butterfly them and then going them out SLIGHTLY if necessary. If I was doing fajitas, I would probably just butterfly them. When I do pound out chicken, I place the breasts inside a freezer bag (plastic wrap tends to break on me) and pound with a flat mallet lightly. If you use the teeth, you'll end up with shreds. I tend to favor many light pounds instead of heavy ones. I usually start in the center and pound out. Alton Brown has a good tutorial on this if you can find it.
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