Who doesn’t like chicken and specifically chicken breasts? Lean, tasty, versatile, can be sautéed, baked, stir-fried. Because I make some kind of chicken dish about once a week, it pays to buy chicken breasts in a large package. Have you noticed how much bigger chickens are these days? Which means the chicken breasts are bigger, thicker and meatier. What we are usually buying are chicken breast halves. So what do you do with these monster chicken breasts?
How to Prepare Chicken Breasts
Unless you are feeding a crowd, then each package of chicken breasts can be prepared ahead by trimming, pounding, cutting into individual portions, and wrapping for freezing.
a plastic cutting board ~ I never use my wooden cutting boards for proteins, especially chicken. The plastic cutting boards can be put in to dishwasher, but I usually pour a little bleach over them after use.
a sharp boning or utility knife ~ any sharp knife will do, but these give you the best control
a flat sided meat mallet ~ to pound the chicken flat
plastic gloves ~ for sanitation
plastic wrap ~ for covering and wrapping the chicken breasts
freezer zip-lock bags ~ for storing the chicken breasts
a medium sharpie ~ for labeling the chicken breast packages
How to prepare chicken breasts ~ a step-by-step process
The best time to do this is right when you get home from the market.
Using a sharp knife, trim any excess fat and any cartilage remaining
Pounding ~ chicken breast halves are thick at the front end and thin at the back end. This makes for uneven cooking. The entire breast should be an even thickness.
Place the chicken breast halves on a plastic cutting board. Cover the breast half with plastic wrap. This keeps any chicken or juices from splattering your work surface.
Using the flat side of a meat mallet, gently pound the chicken breasts to about 1/4-inch thickness, taking care not to tear the breast meat.
Portioning ~ a single chicken breast can be up to 16 ounces ~ that’s one pound, far too large for a single portion. And after pounding, it’s far too large to easily cook. Using your sharp knife, slice into portion sizes. A half chicken breast can easily be cut into 3 portions. A chicken breast half is an irregular size, so your portions may be irregular too.
Wrapping ~ wrap each portion individually with the plastic wrap. Stack in three’s. On the freezer zip-lock bags, write the number of portions, the size, and the date. Place the packets inside the bags, and securely close, squeezing out any air.
Now your chicken breast packets are ready to be placed in the freezer. Remember that chicken in any form is considered a Potentially Hazardous Food, so the packets should be place on the bottom shelf in your freezer.
When you want to use the chicken breasts, remove the amount you need from the freezer and place in the fridge. Or you can place on the counter and they’ll defrost in about 30 minutes, ready to be cooked in whatever way you choose.
Wasn’t that easy? 30 minutes up front to make dinner time more efficient.
What are some other cooking ideas would you like me to share? I’ve got hundreds! Tell me what you would like to know.
Tomorrow is Wednesday Recipe Day and I have a delicious pumpkin dish for you.