How to cook low-fat chicken breasts
December 28, 2014 6:53 PM   Subscribe

What recipes do you have for boneless chicken breast (either whole or diced)?

I usually hate cooking with chicken. I've recently discovered the joys of boneless chicken breasts.

I usually use about a kilo (2.2lbs) at once. Soups, stews, on the grill (but first lightly poached), or baked in the oven with all sorts of spices. That's what I usually do. It's great and all, but kinda basic. I want more.

My butcher hooks me up by dicing it for me in advance when I ask, but by no means am I committed to diced.

So...what recipes do you have for boneless chicken breast (either whole or diced)?
posted by hal_c_on to Food & Drink (37 answers total) 115 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: A couple of standards in our house are:
Chicken breasts with garlic and parsley
Chicken Marbella (better with chicken parts but totally good with just breasts)
posted by dfan at 7:09 PM on December 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A very simple one: baste on the grill with sweet chili sauce (I prefer the Mae Ploy brand). Carmelizes nicely and has a nice tang and only one ingredient FTW. Actually, not so sure it fits the low fat criteria but it's tasty!
posted by HeyAllie at 7:10 PM on December 28, 2014

Best answer: I find boneless, skinless chicken breast dry and tasteless. So I do whatever I can to bring flavor to the party.

Chicken Paprikash This recipe is pretty close to our family recipe. Replace some chicken stock with white wine. Serve over noodles or rice.

Evelyn's Chicken. Surprisingly good considering the heinous ingredients. My sister says that serving it with Rice-a-Roni makes it. Personally...I like it over steamed rice.

Julia Child's Chicken Dijon is really easy to do and delicious. If you don't want to fool with the butter/oil. Mix the dijon mustard and some mayo, coat uncooked breasts, roll in bread crumbs/seasoning and then bake. Very yummy and it's fantastic left over cold.

Chicken A La King is hoity toity, and very tasty.

Arroz con Pollo, is easy and yummy. Sautee chopped chicken in oil, frozen peppers and onions, and garlic until browned (don't let the garlic burn.) Use a packet of Yellow/Saffron Rice, and chicken broth. Cook everything until the rice is cooked through. About 2 minutes before the cooking time is reached, throw an handful of peas in the pot. Serve with a green salad.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:11 PM on December 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My wife has a couple staples:
a. Four whole breasts, half a diced onion, and a bottle of BBQ sauce in the crock pot. Four hours on high, then the rest of the day on simmer. Shred chicken breasts an hour before dinner. Pile on pretzel buns with a slice of havarti. Makes tons of leftovers.
b. Marinade to breasts' worth of cubes in a ziploc bag with half a jar of pesto for a few hours in the fridge (or overnight). Serve over bowtie pasta.
c.Two peppers and an onion, sliced into long slivers, and a couple cloves of garlic, four whole breasts. Same as a, but serve in burritos with some colby jack. Again, lots of leftovers.
posted by notsnot at 7:23 PM on December 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Cut them into chunks (so maybe get your butcher to cube them), then soak them in soured milk for a day. Then make a mix of wholemeal flour, cayenne pepper or hot paprika, black pepper, MSG (sorry: "vegetable stock powder"), a bit of cumin and some dried chilli. Roll the moist chunks in the flour mix, possibly a couple of times.

Then fry the lot in about 3/4" of sunflower oil.

Serve with [mash, packet gravy & peas] or [chips & peas].
posted by pompomtom at 7:31 PM on December 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Brunswick stew in the crock pot! I use this recipe and usually add more chicken and canned okra.
posted by dondiego87 at 7:38 PM on December 28, 2014

Best answer: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts respond excellently to marinading. Try a lemon/garlic/dill marinade: cut and squeeze two lemons into a large bowl, add white wine, a bit of red wine vinegar, some water, a goodly helping of crushed garlic, and lots of fresh dill. The marinade should be enough to cover all the breasts so they can soak in the flavor; you can occasionally swish the breasts around while marinading so they change position and get the marinade to all surfaces. Cover the bowl and marinate for 4-6 hours (longer if you have the time) in, then put the breasts in a roasting pan (a shallow glass one is great for this) and pour some of the marinade over them. The breasts should be in a single layer; if you have quite a lot you might have to use a second pan. Sprinkle some paprika over the top of the breasts and bake 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees (Fahrenheit). Great with rice or potatoes as a side.
posted by RRgal at 7:39 PM on December 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Not a recipe, but I dump them in the crockpot with halved peppers and make fajitas when they're done.
posted by harrietthespy at 7:40 PM on December 28, 2014

Best answer: The American Test Kitchen/Cook's Illustrated recipe for chicken pot pie is fantastic, easy, and calls for chicken breasts.
posted by jrobin276 at 7:41 PM on December 28, 2014

Best answer: Country Captain Soup is wonderful and only uses a tablespoon of olive oil for six servings.
posted by DrGail at 7:41 PM on December 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh - I hate making pie crust with a firey passion and use store bought frozen puff pastry. It goes especially nice and crispy in a cast iron skillet ;)
posted by jrobin276 at 7:43 PM on December 28, 2014

Best answer: Seconding marinade. We marinate in whatever (sometimes store-bought marinade, sometimes whatever we have in the fridge) for a day or so and then grill in the George Foreman.
posted by immlass at 7:46 PM on December 28, 2014

Best answer: Garlic Lime Chicken
posted by Jacqueline at 7:46 PM on December 28, 2014

Response by poster: How do I make that chicken and rice that the halal guys in NY make? Anybody know.

Excellent answers. I'm gonna try them all and memail you questions.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:52 PM on December 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh, hey. I know the answer to the halal thing.

I do a now-modified version of this, but I didn't like the sauce so I make tzatziki instead.
posted by ernielundquist at 7:59 PM on December 28, 2014 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Yakitori
posted by mumimor at 8:13 PM on December 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For some quick chicken fillets, cut a breast horizontally into two thinner pieces (easier if you freeze it for about 15 minutes first), layout fillets on plastic wrap, coat with oil, and lay another layer of plastic wrap on top. Pound them to thinner to a uniform thickness, maybe 3/8" (if you don't have something to pound them with, a frying pan works). Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides. Heat up frying pan with a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. When pan is heated and ready, cook the fillets about 2.5 minutes on a side till their golden brown (you want to avoid checking them too much while cooking), flip and cook about 30 seconds on other side. That takes of the chicken.

Then if you want, make a pan sauce with the fond left in the pan. I usually improvise - add some oil and cook some onion, then some garlic, add chicken stock, wine (or cider or any juice), salt and pepper as needed. Reduce the sauce so it's as thick as you like, then add a tablespoon or two of butter at the end.
posted by ShooBoo at 8:41 PM on December 28, 2014

Best answer: Easy Tikka Masala smells so good! Sometimes I omit the fresh ginger. I rarely have heavy cream so have used plain yogurt, sour cream or half-n-half. Not a fan of cilantro (I know, I know) so parsley is the usual sub. Amazing leftovers.
posted by maggieb at 8:42 PM on December 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Are these skinless as well? The only way I can eat skinless chicken breast without hating my life is pan-searing in a ton of butter (which defeats the purpose). OR, if you want to jump on the sous vide train, that does make an awesome chicken breast.

Keep the skin on when at all possible.

Most of the suggestions here (curry and halal chicken jumped out at me) are tons better with boneless skinless chicken thighs. I'd be surprised if a well-trimmed thigh is that much worse than a breast.
posted by supercres at 8:55 PM on December 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Chicken enchiladas are good and can be low- fat if you (a) don't use a shitload of cheese, which kinda sucks, and (b) use plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, which is just fine.

The same trick works for chicken paprikash. It won't be as pretty because the yogurt leaves a bit of a grainy appearance but it tastes juuuuuuuust fiiiiiiiine.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:57 PM on December 28, 2014

Best answer: On the yakitori front, chicken breast tenderloin yakitori is called sasami. If your whole boneless breasts come with the tenderloin still attached, peel it off, cut it up, marinate as described in the link, skewer, grill, and top with wasabi. You can also do the same with the breasts themselves, if you like.

My favorite simple thing to do with chicken breast is poach it by immersing in seasoned broth in a pot, bringing to a simmer, then turning off the heat and leaving it to sit for 20 minutes. Then I shred the chicken (just by pulling it apart by hand), toss it with practically any sauce, and use for tacos, enchiladas, taquitos, salad, soup (use the poaching broth too!), sandwiches, and numerous other things.

However, a skin-on, bone-in chicken breast, slowly grilled, and seasoned with salt and lemon pepper or other mixed seasoning, rested 5 minutes, then doused in hot sauce, is a very excellent meat component of a dinner.
posted by WasabiFlux at 10:25 PM on December 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: When my kid refused to eat anything with any added fat, I started simmering skinless chicken breasts in a mix of half water, half soy sauce.

Then I made it for dinner guests and they really liked it. YMMV.
posted by Bella Donna at 10:32 PM on December 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: How to cook moist tender chicken breasts every time and quick easy brining is how I bulk-cook chicken for the week every week. i do 2 skillets at a time, 3 breasts each, and if you use nonstick you don't really need to use any oil.

There's also a link there toward the end, I believe, for dry poaching in the oven. It's as easy as the stovetop method.

Both methods make a soft, velvety chicken that can stand reheating without turning to rubber.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:55 PM on December 28, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: This Mario Batalli recipe (technically, his nanny's recipe) calls for thighs but I often make it with boneless breasts, comes out well.

Personally I like to make chicken with brown butter and lemon ---

1) chop the breasts into 2 inch chunks, season, and dust with a bit of flour.
2) brown one side of the chicken pieces quickly over high heat in a little olive oil. remove from pan
3) add a few tablespoons of butter to the pan, turn the heat down to medium, scrape up any chicken bits off the bottom of the pan, and let the butter cook until sizzling stops and milk solids become brown. Then add the juice from half a lemon, a splash of white wine if you have some around, and a couple teaspoons of thyme.
4) return the chicken to the pan and let cook through. can add some thinly sliced asparagus or broccoli at this point if you like.
5) just before serving, add the zest of a lemon to the pan and toss over chicken.

This is really good with rice; if you're serving it with that, then I take the chicken out at step 5 and dump the cooked rice into the pan to suck up any pan juices, before serving with the chicken on top.
posted by Diablevert at 11:22 PM on December 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Fesenjān is a Persian pomegranate walnut stew (!) that's often made with chicken. I cooked a batch just this evening, and being a stewy sort of thing, it'll be even better tomorrow. Fruity and sweet and sour… it's a different flavor profile than the usual (for me), and very simple to prepare.
posted by mumkin at 12:06 AM on December 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: A go-to in our house is to bake 2 boneless skinless breasts in a small casserole dish. I sprinkle liberally with organic no-salt seasoning, then about halfway through baking, pour in a ready made sauce or marinade (teriyaki, lemon pepper, etc.).

But the key to moistness: use a probe thermometer with an alarm! It makes all the difference! Pull the chicken out and serve covered with the sauce as soon as it hits 165 degrees. Boneless skinless breasts do not respond well to overcooking. Serving at the right temp keeps them moist and juicy, and the marinade helps even more.
posted by The Deej at 4:26 AM on December 29, 2014

Best answer: One-pot Faux Coq Au Vin

Chicken breasts
Fresh mushrooms
Pearl onions
Chicken stock
Red wine
Fresh herbs/fresh garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in pot. Brown breasts, remove. Add carrots, cook. Add onions, cook. Add mushrooms, cook. Add garlic. Return breasts to pot, cover with wine and stock (2 to 1). Cover and low simmer for about an hour. Use a slotted spoon to remove everything from pot, turn up heat, and reduce liquid until thick. Serve over rice with sauce poured over, and sprinkle with fresh herbs.
posted by valkane at 4:59 AM on December 29, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Poached shredded chicken fits in almost anywhere. If you fridge it, let chicken warm up a little. Cut into 1/2 in strips, roll one back and forth between fingers and it will undo itself into shreds.

It's great in salads of any type.

We like romaine, cukes, cubed avocado, lots of cilantro, chicken shreds, dressed with olive oil & lemon juice. (All the fats are good fats?) or exchange the greens for rotini or shell pasta.

Or "Hellenic salad": cubed potatoes/rice, sliced artichoke hearts, garbanzo beans, olives, lots of fresh parsley, steamed green beans, shredded chicken, dress with tzatziki.

Or plain old chicken salad: honey mustard, tiny chopped celery or sweet pepper, grapes -- lovely on toast or a cracker or pickle/cuke slices.

Shredded chicken can replace ground meat in almost anything: enchiladas, tomato sauce, chicken and (wild) rice soup.
posted by Jesse the K at 5:36 AM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I make this all too often: Parmesan Crusted Chicken. I use Panko instead of breadcrumbs, but I eat that meal tag least once a month.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:43 AM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Thomas Keller's Chicken Breasts with Tarragon

Very quick. Very easy. Very delicious.
posted by chill at 8:36 AM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Buy a jar of Dona Maria brand mole at the store, mix with chicken broth, brown the chicken chunks a little, then cook them the rest of the way in the mole sauce. Eat with tortillas, black beans, fried eggs, avocado, salsa, etc.
posted by ostro at 8:41 AM on December 29, 2014

Best answer: Mr. psho is a big fan of my variation of country-style Chicken Kiev -- I use tarragon instead of basil, minced garlic instead of garlic salt, and a mixture of panko and Italian bread crumbs.

Also lots and lots of butter, which you can cut back on if you really want it low(ish) fat. But there is no pounding of the meat (heh).
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 10:32 AM on December 29, 2014

Best answer: Also, I can attest to the yummyness of this Greek chicken recipe, although it is best with the chicken parts you eschew (skin, bones, dark meat).
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 10:36 AM on December 29, 2014

Best answer: Pan-roasted chicken
Chicken breasts
Salt (kosher or sea), fresh cracked pepper
2 sprigs fresh rosemary (leave whole. Tarragon is also nice and is in the next recipe).
1/2c butter
veg or olive oil

1tsp dijon mustard
1 glass white wine (or sherry)

Season the breasts with salt and pepper. Get an oven-safe (all-metal, no plastic or Teflon) pan hot, add oil. Place breasts in pan presentation side down, and leave them alone until golden. Flip and put the pan in a 350 oven for 8-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the breast.

Remove from oven when just about done, return the pan to the heat. Toss in the rosemary and the butter. Holding the pan at an angle, use a spoon to baste the butter over the breasts over and over for a couple minutes.

Remove from pan, and drain off the butter into a separate container. Pour in the wine or sherry and cook over high heat until reduced, then add dijon mustard and whisk in some of the butter. Chicken and a pan sauce, done. This method adapts well to any protein.

Penne with chicken, tarragon, and grapes

Pan-roast your chicken as above, but omit the basting, just finish in the oven. Let the chicken rest for a few minutes and then cut into fork-manageable pieces.

Cook as much penne as you like according to package directions, minus a minute or two--you want it just on the undercooked side of al dente.

Slice some seedless red grapes in half--by volume, you want slightly less grape than chicken. Strip the leaves off a few sprigs of tarragon; chop most of it very fine, leave some leaves whole for garnish.

In a pan, briefly sautee a little garlic in some olive oil. Deglaze with white whine and cook until alcohol is cooked off. Add 35% cream (approximately a cup and a half per person) and reduce until relatively thick. Add chicken, grapes, and chopped tarragon, then drained (but not rinsed! never rinsed!) pasta and toss. If your sauce has gotten too thick or has split, whisk in a tablespoon or two of water--ideally the pasta water.

Season with salt and pepper (do this at the end, because the sauce reduces), garnish with extra tarragon, and enjoy. The grapes will warm but retain their shape, and the acid and sweetness cuts through the cream.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:50 AM on December 29, 2014

Best answer: Super easy - dip chicken breasts in a fancy spicy smokey mustard and then press into panko breadcrumbs, bake at 375F for ~20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts. You can probably use Dijon mustard, or a mixture of Dijon and honey. Totally different than any of the boring Italian dressing marinade/Italian herbs grilled chicken breasts.

Pro tip: Put an oven-safe container with water in the oven when baking chicken, it will ALWAYS come out tender, even if you forget about it and overcook it a bit. OK, overcook it a lot. Still tender with the water trick!
posted by at 8:58 PM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you have some leftover rice, make fried rice with a poached, cut-up chicken breast.

Then to make this awesome, at the table, stir in a big honking spoonful of Ginger Scallion sauce that you've pre-made and kept in the frig. Keep the sauce on the table and stir in more as you go.

There are many recipes out there for this sauce. The Slate one is pretty close to what I make, although I sometimes throw in a little bit of chicken bouillon powder with the salt, maybe a half teaspoon or so, and then after it's all cooled down, add a tablespoon or two of rice cooking wine or cooking sherry to taste and stir in well.
posted by marsha56 at 1:26 PM on January 3, 2015

Best answer: Surprised no one's mentioned going the Chinese route?

Gong Bao (aka Kung Pao) Chicken from Sichuan

Dai Ghost Chicken from Yunnan (disclosure: sort-of-self-link)
posted by joshwa at 8:02 PM on January 4, 2015

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