Can I salvage my freezer-burned chicken?
July 26, 2007 6:34 PM   Subscribe

Can severely freezer-burned chicken be "rescued"?

I understand the basics of how freezer burn works, and realize that the outside of my chicken breasts are now dried out. I also know from experience that if I grill them up, they'll be tough, dry, and generally not worth eating.

What if I cooked them in a crock pot with lots of broth? Would that rehydrate the chicken and make it good to eat again? What about in a stew? Or should I just cut my losses and pick up another bag 'o chicken?

Does anyone have experience with this or easy recipes they can recommend? (The easier to make, the better!)
posted by chrisamiller to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In my experience, it's gonna be tough or rubbery no matter what. Those cells ruptured, and there's not going to be much way to get moisture back in there.
posted by pupdog at 6:38 PM on July 26, 2007

You could try grinding it up with some added fats. That may help.

I have never tried this and have no idea if it will work.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:52 PM on July 26, 2007

Grind it or chop it fine and add it to homemade chili, or some other highly spiced stewlike concoction. It's best if you have red meat in there already. After a little cooking, the flavor of the chicken will disappear completely and it'll be just a white protein to make your meal more nutritious.
posted by ROTFL at 7:07 PM on July 26, 2007

I've made freezerburned fowl edible again by stewing or sautéing with plenty of liquids. Edible, but certainly not gourmet. After sautéing you can shred the chicken with a couple of forks and make a passable taco filling.
posted by lekvar at 7:11 PM on July 26, 2007

Boiling covers a lot of mistakes. I suggest chicken with yellow gravy. It is the epitome of comfort food. In fact, it's so good, it's my uncle's "birthday meal."

1. Put chicken in large pot on the stove, cover with water. Add one large onion (quartered), 2-3 stalks of celery (leaves OK), and 5-10 whole pepper corns.

2. Bring to a boil and simmer at least 2 hours or until meat falls off the bone. Since the chicken is already "ruined," you really can't overcook it.

3. Remove chicken and pull meat off the bones. Pour the broth through a collander to get rid of the veggies and the tiny bones. Toss the veggies, skin, and bones.

(Optional) Keep the chicken separate from the broth. Put both in the fridge overnight. In the morning, skim the fat off the broth.

4. Put the chicken in the broth, bring to a boil, then simmer.

5. In a covered jar, add 1 cup of cold water, 1/2 cup of flour, and the juice of one lemon. Shake until you can shake no more. The flour should be completed mixed in--no lumps.

6. Pour mixture into broth + chicken, heat and stir until thickened. It should look like a slightly thin gravy.

(Optional, but advised) Add yellow food coloring until it looks delicious (5-15 drops).

7. Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.
posted by GarageWine at 7:15 PM on July 26, 2007 [5 favorites]

Poach the chicken so it stays somewhat moist and tender, shred or chop it up, and make some chicken salad according to the recipe of your choice. I like to use most any kind of chopped fresh herbs, some nuts for crunch, and just enough mayo to make it stick together.
posted by letourneau at 7:42 PM on July 26, 2007

My simple solution is to make chicken salad out of the lot of it. Throw it in a food processor if you have one, or chop it fine, however you like chicken salad. That's how burgers still taste decent even though the meat usually isn't top-quality; chop it up well enough and at some point you end up with something usable again.

But then again, maybe you don't like chicken salad.
posted by Phyltre at 7:53 PM on July 26, 2007

What GarageWine says - use the burnt chicken to make chicken stock.

Alternatively, you could try brining it to try to rescue the texture damage.
posted by porpoise at 8:10 PM on July 26, 2007

I would just pitch it or after deboning, feed to the cat or dog. It seems no matter how I cook it, it still has that nasty freezer burn taste. We're not talking about Kobe filet here!
posted by JujuB at 10:18 PM on July 26, 2007

If you have the right equipment, I suspect it would be fine for chicken sausage or chicken meatballs, or any number of other meals that involve ground or chopped/chipped meat and a lot of seasoning.

For something a little less traditional, you could try making kubideh (a traditional Iranian/Persian dish, usually made from ground lamb or beef and cooked as a kebab, probably best if you have a Middle Eastern market around from which to get the right seasonings) with chicken. At the very least it would be interesting to try.

If you don't want to go that route, there's always chili. It's pretty much designed to cover up whatever sins your meat may have committed on its way to the pot.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:18 PM on July 26, 2007

Add me to the list of AskMe participants who would use the meat along with other chicken parts for stock.

You could then potentially shred the cooked chicken and add it to a pot of chicken soup.
posted by briank at 6:39 AM on July 27, 2007

Thanks guys. I'll give your suggestions a try, and seal my freezer bags more carefully in the future!
posted by chrisamiller at 3:01 PM on July 27, 2007

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