Help salvage my overcooked crockpot chicken!
May 15, 2011 8:33 AM   Subscribe

I overcooked chicken in my crockpot overnight and now it’s very dry and not so tasty to eat. How can I save my dinner?

Last night before going to bed, I put boneless skinless chicken breasts in the crockpot with a bottle of teriyaki sauce marinade and a can of pineapple chunks. I turned it on low, and went to sleep. 8 hours later, I returned to find very dry chicken, even after shredding and dipping back into the sauce in the crockpot. (I realize now that the cook time was way too long and I should have set an alarm to wake up)

Is there any way to make this chicken more palatable? Would soaking it back in the cooking liquid really help? Most of what I’ve seen online recommend turning it into chicken salad or into chicken soup. I’ve had really dry chicken in soup before, so it doesn’t seem like that would help much.

Or do I need to throw it all out and start over?
posted by watch out for turtles to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would turn it into chicken salad.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 8:37 AM on May 15, 2011

Grind it up in a food processor, mix with mashed potatoes, mayo, maybe some chopped onion, spices. Pan fry as croquettes.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:40 AM on May 15, 2011 [9 favorites]

If you're intent on salvaging the chicken, go with something along StickyCarpet's route. You're going to need to grind it up somehow - there's no getting moisture back into the meat, so any piece, no matter how small, is pretty much going to taste like a little cube of vaguely chicken-flavored cardboard... Use it as a learning opportunity to try the French preparation, mousseline. It's pretty simple to do and it can be used in a variety of ways (it's particularly good inside raviolis with a parmesan cream).

Or, do what I think I'd do in this situation, considering I treat Sundays like a day of rest: order up a ton of Chinese takeout, and give my dinner guests a bit of a laugh at my expense... One of the dinners my friends to this day speak of most fondly was on just such an occasion. It isn't curing cancer, it's just some chicken parts... ;-)
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 9:04 AM on May 15, 2011

I know this won't help you now, but what I've started doing is using boneless skinless chicken thighs in the crockpot. After having several breasts turn out dry like yours, I started using thighs and have not had that problem any more.
posted by LaurenIpsum at 9:07 AM on May 15, 2011

Agreed on the chopping/grinding it finely and mixing with other stuff:

You could put more asian-y type sauces with it, maybe throw it in a pan with sauteed peppers or onions plus some chicken broth to get some juiciness, and assemble lettuce wraps, or little lettuce cups, with the chicken mix plus bean sprouts and fresh herbs like cilantro/thai basil/mint

Orrrr, do a similar preparation method (making a saucy chicken/pepper/onion/etc. mixture) and put it in tacos with beans. Add mayo, or guacamole or salsa, or all three, to make the overall effect juicier.

The meat will still be dry, but if you just mix it with lots of other fresh or saucy stuff it will mask it. Also, adding fat back into the mix by reheating in olive oil or butter will help.
posted by dahliachewswell at 9:29 AM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh, also, I was going to mention, if you're interested in the benefits of slow-cooking minus the inconvenience, you could also try cooking crockpot-style meals in a pressure cooker; they're surprisingly easy to use. You can't turn it on and go to bed, but cooking meat this way takes far less time than roasting or other methods. You can use basically the same recipes, maybe adding a little more liquid than you might for a crock pot recipe. The pressure forces all the delicious seasonings and juices literally into the meat. Chicken comes out noticeably plumped.
posted by dahliachewswell at 9:34 AM on May 15, 2011

I hate to tell you this, but I think you're f'ed. As noted upthread, no amount of doctoring is going to bring moisture back. Start over.
posted by Gilbert at 10:23 AM on May 15, 2011

Chicken salad is one of the better solutions. However, make it with equal amounts of mayonnaise and yogurt, which adds moisture and keeps the fat content down. A little chicken broth or a chicken cube dissolved in water will add moisture and flavor. Use plenty of chopped celery (including the leaves in the center) and scallions to create texture and crunch. For the same reason, add plenty of parsley, including finely chopped stems. The same for cilantro.

Chicken breasts have a "mild" flavor (that is, not much), particularly when overcooked. To punch things up, add whatever comes to mind -- soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, green olives, capers, mustard, walnuts or pecans, dill weed, cumin, curry powder, chutney, raisins, a bit of honey -- look through your kitchen cabinet and add something that makes you salivate.
posted by KRS at 11:35 AM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Any grinding or chopping you do , chiicken croquettes, etc, are going to taste like teriyaki.

Do you have a dog?
posted by SLC Mom at 12:01 PM on May 15, 2011

Chop it up into teeny tiny bits and substitute your chicken for the pork in of either Ma Po Tofu or Szechuan Eggplant
posted by Kololo at 12:43 PM on May 15, 2011

Chop it up and make chicken a la king, my go to for dry chicken and turkey.
posted by fifilaru at 3:10 PM on May 15, 2011

(Boneless skinless fillets is typical à la minute food; as soon as they're cooked through they're done. Past done means dry. Judging from the lunch restaurants of my experience, that's a forgotten bit of knowledge somehow. But that doesn't mean that you can't use dry-cooked chicken meat. 'Course you can.)

Shred it finer and add (quite) some oil/fat, and some saucy niceness, and slow-cook it into submission. If it isn't all too sweet you just can make a multi-culture-chili (with a can of tomatoes, some yummy heat, and suitable spices). But I like StickyCarpet's suggestion too.

And for Pete's sake don't give up! This is the kind of stuff that makes you learn about cooking.
posted by Namlit at 3:56 PM on May 15, 2011

I've had good luck simmering dry breast in stock (shredded). So long as it's not "jerky" dry. If that's the case it'll make someone's pet happy.
posted by JABof72 at 9:09 PM on May 15, 2011

Nthing grinding it up and using it in stir fry or croquettes.

Breasts are too lean for a crockpot -- go with thighs!
posted by desuetude at 9:58 PM on May 15, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks all! I just ended up shredding it and putting it back in the cooking liquid (similar to pulled pork) and after sitting for most of the day in the liquid, it wasn't too terrible. I decided to just suck it up and eat it as it was, since it wasn't for guests or anything. Served with steamed broccoli and white rice.

Next time, I'll avoid chicken breasts in the crockpot.
posted by watch out for turtles at 7:39 AM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

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