Batch cooking chicken breasts?
July 31, 2009 11:02 AM   Subscribe

Best ways to cook large number of boneless chicken breasts at one time?

We typically cook 6 chicken breasts at a time. Then we freeze them for use throughout the week.

Right now we're using an old George Foreman grill, but it is scratched up and we have to cover top & bottom with aluminum foil.

I'd love to use the slow cooker because I think it will generate less heat than the oven, which is important in the summer (no central AC here). Has anyone done this before? (6 breasts, nothing else but perhaps some liquid) If so, how long do you cook it for?

Any other ideas for cooking 6 or so at a time?
posted by evening to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I used to have to prepare a dozen chicken breasts at a time at my very first restaurant job. We poached them. Super simple, minimal cleanup.
posted by Miko at 11:04 AM on July 31, 2009 [9 favorites]

The slow cooker will cook your chicken breasts, but you may need to experiment a bit to cook them sufficiently without drying them out. I agree with Miko that you can cook them gently via poaching and get perfect results.

You may also try slicing some of the breast into long strips and quick frying them in a little oil in a non stick pan. That surface crunchiness will add some taste and texture and make your meals a little more varied.
posted by maudlin at 11:13 AM on July 31, 2009

Cut em into strips, batter em' up, and deep fry. Granted, this may be hotter than poaching, but cold fried chicken will keep all week in the fridge (you don't even have to freeze it) and is a delicious summer treat.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 11:16 AM on July 31, 2009

I poach whole packages of chicken breasts at a time, and the use the cooked chicken throughout the week. It works like a charm.
posted by pemberkins at 11:20 AM on July 31, 2009

These cast iron grill pans are great for cooking a fairly large quanitity of meat. You can even flip it over and make a pile of flapjacks on the griddle side.
posted by HotPatatta at 11:35 AM on July 31, 2009

Throw 'em on the grill. I just made some jerk chicken last night, and I'm gonna cook it tomorrow after it marinates for a while. Six breasts, all on my Weber kettle with some charcoal. That'll be my dinner for a week.
posted by Team of Scientists at 12:38 PM on July 31, 2009

Bear with me, this sounds kinda gross can also boil them and then shred them for use in chicken salad sandwiches, chicken tacos/enchiladas, bbq chicken sandwiches, on salads, in wraps, Thai food, casseroles, etc. The boiling scent is far from awesome, but they do taste yummy and are easy to freeze and store.
posted by December at 1:07 PM on July 31, 2009

I say don't use boneless skinless chicken breasts in the slow cooker. Go with Mko's poached chicken recipe. You'll notice it only involves bringing them to the boil, boiling just a couple minutes, then sitting off-heat covered for a while. That's less time than the slow cooker would take, not much more heat, and they won't turn out dry, stringy and tough. (Bonus: I'd bet you could use the leftover poaching liquid as stock. Maybe simmer it a while to concentrate it. Then it could be a base for soup or sauce.)
posted by dnash at 1:17 PM on July 31, 2009

Seconding the poach before freezing. In water with minimal spices / salt to make it more flexible to add them to a variety of dishes when thawed later. Time the simmer - don't overcook.
posted by aught at 1:27 PM on July 31, 2009

I vote poach as well. I use salt and pepper and throw in a quarter of an onion, sliced big, at the very least, but you can put garlic or any other seasoning you like in the water to make them less blah.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:45 PM on July 31, 2009

if you're poaching, add a little wine to the liquid, and whatever fresh herbs you (or your neighbors) have growing in little pots outside your window. Hugely improves the flavor.
posted by Cheeto at 2:41 PM on July 31, 2009

This is a perfect application for sous-vide cooking.

Ideally you'd have a vacuum sealer (e.g. a FoodSaver) and a digital temperature controller to keep the temp of the slow cooker from getting too high.
posted by hsawtelle at 3:31 PM on July 31, 2009

Thanks, everyone, poaching sounds like a winner!
posted by evening at 3:42 PM on July 31, 2009

Poaching looks great, but I'll throw out an idea for you that we've used with great success.

We put our chicken breasts in the slow cooker and cover them with a can of salsa. They slow cook for a few hours and are perfect for tacos/quesodillas/burritos/whatever. They don't dry out if there is enough salsa covering them.
posted by achmorrison at 4:37 PM on August 1, 2009

I tried something very similar to achmorrison using a crockpot recipe from Sparkpeople, a diet website. The recipe adds taco seasoning, which made normally bland chicken spicy along with salsa to keep it from drying out. It's one of my favorite recipes.
However, this is probably a one-night dish, so I agree poaching sounds better for cooking for a whole week.
posted by greatalleycat at 10:30 PM on August 8, 2009

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