25 pounds of thawed chicken breast. what do I do?
February 22, 2014 12:12 PM   Subscribe

I have 25lbs of thawed chicken breast. I do not have a grill, but a full kitchen. What are the best ways to pre cook and store chicken for later use. I have a freezer chest for storing cooked chicken. My goal is to have prepped chicken that I can use on week nights to create quick easy meals OR to create healthy lunches. Any ideas about how to create meals with prepped chicken are a bonus.
posted by Coffee Bean to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Take some of the breasts and throw them in a crock pot for a few hours (in some stock or water) and they'll eventually just fall apart. You can freeze that shredded chicken in small bags and take some out weekly or day-of and make sandwiches, throw them on salads or in soups, etc.
posted by adorap0621 at 12:41 PM on February 22, 2014

I don't think I've ever done 25lbs at a time, you may want to make this a two-day project, but my general pattern is this:

Two large casserole dishes of "generic" chicken - salt & pepper on chicken, a chopped onion and spoon of minced garlic in dish, couple glugs of olive oil, toss chicken in dish and cook at 350, turning every 15 minutes, until chicken is *just* done at the thickest part (I use a thermometer, this can take 45 minutes or more). If you're doing both dishes at once, you might go up to 375 just so it doesn't take forever.

One gallon baggie of breasts (depending on size, 5-7, pounded out a little at the thick end to make a little more even) with a glug of oil, 1/4C or so of soy sauce, big squirt of fish sauce, drizzle of chili oil. Let sit an hour and then cook in a large hot skillet with a little oil until a little charred on the outside and just done on the inside. You can also roast like the generic chicken, but it doesn't get that little bit of burned soy sauce flavor. Don't crowd too much or you won't get the fond, so you may need 2 pans going at once or a two-burner griddle/grill.

Obviously, you can play any variation you like on the above - I do the oven chicken with lemon and oregano sometimes, or rosemary and thyme for a roasted chicken flavor. You can do cajun seasoning, etc.

However you cook it, let it cool. You can choose to package it up whole, but I find it is significantly easier to quickly thaw without turning it to jerky if you dice it. I put one diced breast into one zip-top bag (they'll usually just fit in a "snack" size bag, or use a sandwich bag), and lay the baggies out on a cookie sheet to freeze flat, then pack the flat frozen bags into large zip bags or freezer-safe containers. Try to get as much air as possible out of all the bags.

Label your bags with a sharpie. Date also.

- on salad
- chicken salad
- in sauce. Any sauce: tomato, alfredo, curry, BBQ, etc. You can empty a bag of frozen diced meat into the heating sauce and heat them together, or microwave the meat.
- in tacos
- toss with vegetables and seasoning in oil and roast
- stir fry (this and salads is where I use a lot of the soy sauce chicken)
- lettuce wraps
- soup
- fritatta or omelette

I usually cut some up into quite a small dice and some up into larger almost-chunks. The bigger pieces do better for simmering and the smaller thaw faster. If I'm packing salad for work, for example, I'll use a small dice and just throw it into my lunchbag frozen. It may or may not need a quick nuke to finish defrosting by lunchtime.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:41 PM on February 22, 2014 [11 favorites]

The easiest thing to do is boil it. I would cube 1/2 and shred 1/2. Cubes are great for dinner casseroles, chicken curry, stir fries, and pesto pasta, or to make chicken salad for lunch. Shredded chicken can be used for tacos, fajitas, or any of these 16 other recipes.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:46 PM on February 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

What are the best ways to pre cook and store chicken for later use.


Chicken breast gets all dry if you don't poach it before you cook it. Poach it in some broth, throw some herbs in there...get it all nice so you can do ANYTHING with the meat later and still have the flavor and juiiceness from yummy chix breast.

Freeze it then.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:07 PM on February 22, 2014 [6 favorites]

You will be so glad to have some of that chopped up chicken to toss into a salad fro a quick dinner on a hot summer night.
For each treat now: Toast a slice of French bread. Make a white sauce and melt some cheese into it. Cheddar does well w/o overwhelming the taste of the chicken. Cover your boiler pan with foil, then assemble toast, cooked chicken breast, cheesy white sauce. Sprinkle grated cheddar over the sauce, and broil until cheese melts. Definitely not a diet dish! But that and a crisp salad would make a nice company dinner without much last minute fixing.
posted by Cranberry at 1:38 PM on February 22, 2014

Yeah Hal gets more or less to my recommendation. You can poach it in the oven to free youself some space.
posted by phearlez at 2:05 PM on February 22, 2014

Poach or slow cook some in hot sauce (like Frank's Red Hot), then cube. Great for sandwiches, pizzas, burritos, mac & cheese...
posted by beyond_pink at 4:13 PM on February 22, 2014

Chicken soup! You can make gallons of it and freeze it. You can shred the cooked chicken, freeze it, and use it in all kinds of dishes. You can also use the broth to poach more of the chicken breasts.
posted by Dolley at 4:45 PM on February 22, 2014

I'm also with Hal. Slow poach in chicken broth. I like to add a bunch of fresh lime juice to the chicken broth because we use it primarily in Mexican dishes. I do a big batch (not 25 lbs, though!), then let it cool, then freeze individual whole breasts (skin and bone removed) with a little broth in baggies. I recommend slightly undercooking if you are planning to re-heat it when you de-frost.

After thawing I tend to use it either sliced cold in salads and sandwiches, or else I warm it gently and shred for use in tacos, etc. I have a breast thawing on the counter right now!
posted by looli at 5:06 PM on February 22, 2014

I would poach or broil it with just simple seasonings. After it's cooked and still hot use this technique to shread it!

Ideas for lunches:
Chicken salad w tart Greek yogurt instead of mayo and chunks of apple. Pack the other half of the apple and a pita.
Burritos w black beans, avocado, salsa and cheese. These freeze really well.

White chicken chili
posted by fontophilic at 5:24 PM on February 22, 2014

Coming in to join the Poach It! chorus. But I'll tell you how to "poach." (This is straight from James Beard, by the way, one of the best things I ever learned.)

Put chicken breasts in water to generously cover. Turn heat to medium high. As soon as the water starts to boil, turn off the heat and let the chicken rest in the water until cool. You will then have soft, juicy chicken meat to do dozens of things with.

My husband's favorite dish is Chicken and Pasta. Cook and drain pasta, add chopped chicken, chopped green onions, chopped celery. Dress with Italian dressing (I prefer Honey Mustard).
posted by kestralwing at 7:45 PM on February 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

Coconut curry chicken. Single servings for work lunches.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:54 PM on February 22, 2014

I'm crazy for chicken pastas, and I feel qualified to recommend as the best accompaniment to chicken and pasta the combination of roasted capsicum/red bell pepper, asparagus, and a tart dill + seeded mustard + lemon juice sauce.

I served it to a friend not knowing they did not like either asparagus or capsicum and they thought it was the best thing ever. So there you go.
posted by Quilford at 3:32 AM on February 23, 2014

Do they have bones & skin still? I cook them like Ina does to great success. I can also highly recommend a bag of frozen, cooked chicken strips for tossing onto salads, into pastas and for making chicken salad.
posted by sarajane at 1:29 PM on February 24, 2014

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