I don’t have any pretty food photos for you today. Instead, I’m sharing how I prep chicken to use in future recipes. And for the practical people out there, I suppose that getting a head start on dinner with some tasty chicken is its very own brand of “pretty.” :) Welcome to Recipe Ready Roasted Chicken!
You know how there are a ton of recipes out there that call for “x” amount of cooked chicken? Maybe it’s for chicken salad, or for a recipe like my Creamy Chicken and Biscuits or any variety of casseroles, sandwiches, salads, etc.
So…what do you do for the cooked chicken part of the recipe? I know a lot of people head straight for the widely available rotisserie chicken.
Rotisserie chicken is great. I love it. It’s already hot, ready to fall off the bone. It’s an easy go to and a popular choice.
Sometimes, even though it’s oh so juicy when you first get it, sometimes it dries out or gets mealy, if you know what I mean.
I’m guessing that happens when it sits in that super hot warmer for too long. It’s better when you can get it straight off the rotisserie. Then, it’s like hitting the chicken jack pot!
The other issue with rotisserie chicken is this…I don’t always need the dark meat for a particular recipe. So, I have a whole chicken’s worth of meat, but I only need part of it for my recipe.
Other than that though, it can be a good choice.
How about poaching or boiling chicken breasts? I used to boil chicken for recipes, but once I started roasting chicken? I never looked back. Why, you ask?
First of all, it simply tastes better. That’s really the most important thing, isn’t it? It’s so full of flavor, so juicy, so moist, so tender. I can’t think of a recipe where I’d rather cook it a different way, at least for when I need it pre-cooked and recipe ready.
Speaking of taste, the way I roast it renders it full of flavor and yet still neutral enough for any recipe. I just use good old olive oil, salt and pepper. No fancy herbs or other seasonings.
Don’t get me wrong, I like fancy herbs and other seasonings, but if I want to stock up on some pre-cooked chicken, I don’t want to risk flavoring it in a way that will interfere with any particular recipe.
For example, one time I took a short cut and used store bought, pre-cooked grilled chicken for my Asian Peanut Chicken Slaw. While I would normally love that smoky grilled taste on chicken, it really messed with the flavors of that salad.
This is Recipe Ready Roasted Chicken, so I like to insure it can be used in any of my pre-cooked chicken recipes. I want it to be completely flexible.
Second, it’s sooooo easy! I use a foil lined sheet pan, put the chicken on it, rub with olive oil, salt and pepper and that’s it. Roast away! Once I’m done taking the meat off the bones, the foil lined pan makes for really easy clean up.
Here’s another important thing to remember….you want to use skin on, bone in chicken breasts. Yep, I know the number one type of chicken to buy is boneless, skinless breasts. But for this application? Go skin on, bone in.
You’ll get more flavor and moisture. And we’re going to get rid of the bones and skin at the end. We just need for them to do their job during roasting.
Here’s another good point…while I will succumb to buying rotisserie chicken or other meat from the grocery store, I much prefer to buy it at a local farm.
I know how the animals are treated and what they eat. I know how the meat is processed. And the meat simply tastes better. I remember being shocked how good the chicken tasted vs. the organic chicken I would normally buy at the store. But I digress….
Once the chicken is roasted, I let it cool for about 10 minutes, just until I can comfortably handle it without burning my hands.
Then, I easily remove the skin and pull the chicken off the bone and separate it into thick shreds. This is my preferred method. And it’s easiest to do it this way while the chicken is still warm and pliable.
When I prep my chicken this way, I end up with big, hearty, meaty bites. And all of those rough shreddy edges? They are perfect for soaking up sauces, gravies and salad dressings.
But, sure, if you need some cubed or sliced chicken, you can do that as well. For that, I would pull the meat off the bone in a big chunk, let it cool, then chill it.
The point is, when the chicken is chilled, it’s much firmer. That firmness will allow you to make cleaner cuts, which is helpful if you’re trying to cube or slice it.
Most recipes call for 1 1/2 or 2 cups of cooked chicken. I’ll measure that amount and place into labeled freezer bags and I am ready to go.
I can throw it in a wrap or quesadilla. I can toss it on top of a salad. It’s good for pretty much everything.
Next week, I’ll share another go to dinner recipe where I use Recipe Ready Roasted Chicken.
So, head to the store and buy a bunch of skin on, bone in chicken breasts. It will take you 5 minutes to get it from the package into the oven, and maybe another 15 to prep it for freezing.
When you’re pressed for time and just want to get a delicious but easy meal on the table, you’ll be oh so happy that you’ve got some juicy, flavorful chicken ready to go. And for me? Having chicken all set and ready to go means pretty photos can follow shortly after :)
Recipe Ready Roasted Chicken
- 3 pounds bone in skin on chicken breasts
- olive oil
- kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil for easy clean up.
Place chicken breasts, skin side up on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Generously salt and pepper. Lightly rub salt and pepper into meat.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until chicken registers 165 degrees when checked at the thickest part of the breast.
Remove from oven. Cool for 10 minutes or until easy enough to handle. Remove skin. It should pull off easily. Then, remove the meat from the bone. At this point, you can either create pulled pieces or slice it or chop it up into chunks. I prefer to pull into thick and hearty bite sized pieces. If you want to cube or slice it, I would let it cool, then refrigerate it. It will be easier to get clean cuts once the chicken is chilled.
You can use cooked chicken immediately. Or, if you're making it for a future recipe, you can store it in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. I'll use whatever I need and then divide the rest up into freezer bags in 1 1/2 or 2 cup amounts and store them in my freezer until I need them.
- I had just over 3 pounds of chicken and got about 5 1/2 cups of shredded "chunks." Your measurement may vary based on how large or how small you divide up the chicken since bigger pieces take up more room in the measuring cup.
- You can roast as much or as little chicken as you'd like. I often do even larger batches of 5-6 pounds so that I can really stock up.
- Your chicken breasts may be dramatically different in size and therefore will take different amounts of time to cook. Check the smaller pieces earlier and remove them from the pan if they are finished before the larger pieces.
- If you look at the post, you'll see I pull mine into hearty but still bite sized pieces. I prefer this to cutting the chicken into chunks. I find the shredded edges soak up sauces so much better than flat cube sides that you would get from cutting. It will all depend on the recipe or end use. You might want to make slices for sandwiches or you might prefer cubes for chicken salad.
- I prefer kosher salt for this recipe, but you can use regular table salt if you'd prefer.
- I like to use disposable gloves when rubbing the olive oil, salt and pepper into the meat. Once the chicken is cooked, I use a fresh pair to pull the skin off, remove the chicken from the bone, and to pull it into pieces.
The Merchant Baker Copyright © 2018