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Old 07-13-2006, 09:21 AM   #11
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Also, if the breast are really large and thick, I fillet them, making two thinner pieces out of one. That helps to reduce the cooking time, resulting in less chance of them getting tough.[/quote]

I pound out the thicker portion of the breast to equal the thinner portion.......this way it cooks evenly. Overcooking it will lead to the toughness......believe me I've done it several times by getting sidetracked when I'm grilling.
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Old 07-13-2006, 09:37 AM   #12
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What everyone else said ...

Overcooking
Freezing

Brining will definitely help

But also, an overly acidic marinade can toughen the chicken, too. Since you marinaded twice, that might have contributed. Try brining and marinading quickly instead.
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Old 07-13-2006, 09:45 AM   #13
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Two other things to keep in mind:

1) Depending on how you plan on cooking the breasts, a lot of toughness problems can stem from the fact that boneless/skinless chicken breasts aren't the same thickness throughout. Unless I'm baking them in a sauce or grilling them (something I rarely do because of how easy it is to overcook them that way), I always pound them so that they are at least somewhat close to the same thickness throughout.

2) Check the package to see if it says that the breasts have had a "solution" added. And unless you're buying organic poultry, all the major brands (Perdue, Tysons, etc.) use it, but they must put it somewhere on the package. Whether chicken or turkey, this "solution" has a tendency to give the interior of the meat a pinkish tinge which many people take for underdoneness. I can't tell you how many times I overcooked both chicken & turkey products before I realized that it was the solution & not the doneness of the meat that was causing the pinkness.
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Old 07-13-2006, 09:53 AM   #14
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ANDYM's advice on cooking chicken breasts is right on target. Breasts cook in a very short time and if you sear them quickly and put them in the oven for a few minutes they will come out juicy and tender. I like making them on the grill too, but I butterfly them if they're thick and only cook them on direct heat for 3 minutes per side max. If you put them on indirect heat, they will take longer to cook and will overcook and become dry.

Unfortunately, most people don't know that supermarket chicken always comes in frozen, so if you are refreezing your chicken be they breasts, parts or whole chickens, you are taking a chance on the chicken becoming dry and tough. When I buy chicken I make it the same day so as not to refreeze it. Makes a difference.
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Old 07-13-2006, 10:09 AM   #15
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Oh - & one thing about freezing. While I completely agree with all the "refreezing" comments/advice, I purchase all of my boneless/skinless chicken breasts in large quantities (CostCo) already flash-frozen.

The economy, & more important, the quality is so excellent that I never purchase the small supposedly "fresh" packages at the supermarket anymore. I can take out as many breasts as I want for a recipe & defrost them in the microwave as needed. Regardless of how I prepare them, whole, sliced, cut up for stirfries, etc., etc., they're always flavorful & moist throughout.
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Old 07-13-2006, 10:37 AM   #16
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Agree that the cooking should be done very quickly and in a very hot pan.

But for grilling (and baking or broiling) usually prefer the bone in chicken breasts.

They are so much juicier and are more forgiving about overheating.
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Old 07-13-2006, 11:41 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drama Queen
]Unfortunately, most people don't know that supermarket chicken always comes in frozen, so if you are refreezing your chicken be they breasts, parts or whole chickens, you are taking a chance on the chicken becoming dry and tough. When I buy chicken I make it the same day so as not to refreeze it. Makes a difference.

is this allowed??
here in Germany you risk your licence if you thaw meat and sell it. Everybody tells you that refreezing it's the worst you can do to your health...

I usually buy fresh chicken (or turkey), so I can see the quality of the flesh.. fat, tendons, fibers etc. I prefer to portion them myself and freeze then if I don't need them right away.
I stopped buying the cheapest meat, because I had this problems with that kind.. and of course care about the time 30min on a grill is definetely tooo much.
If you don't have a thermometer, just take it from the grill and cut at the thickest part.. then you can see if it's done
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Old 07-13-2006, 01:13 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cara
is this allowed??
here in Germany you risk your licence if you thaw meat and sell it. Everybody tells you that refreezing it's the worst you can do to your health...

I don't think refreezing is a health issue, assuming the thawed meat was still fresh when refrozen. It's a textural one.

Just about every piece of "fresh" fish you see in a supermarket was previously frozen. They often freeze fish right on the boat.
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Old 07-14-2006, 07:43 AM   #19
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You're right Jennyema. I have asked the fishmonger both here in Michigan and in California and Nevada where I now live and they all said that the only fish that is fresh is salmon. All other fish and shellfish comes in frozen. Everytime you re-freeze meat, poultry or fish you lose some of the quality in either taste, or texture. I try to buy fish and poultry on the day I intend to use them. Meat, of course, isn't pre-frozen so I freeze meat products.

It isn't illegal for supermarkets to pre-freeze fish or poultry, but if you look closely you'll often see the words "previously frozen" on the price tag in the counter. This is usually done with fish and shellfish.
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Old 01-25-2008, 11:27 AM   #20
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re: tough chicken breasts

It is probably the quality of meat you are buying. Buy your chicken from a good quality butcher's shop. When the butcher is sloppy about cutting the meat, it turns out tough when cooked. I have no idea why, but that is why it happens. I hope this helps.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandyj View Post
I've done the search for "tough" in the chicken forum, read the posts. I even did a web search: "how to cook chicken breasts". I have to face it, I can't seem to get it right. Last night, came home from work with the idea to either quickly saute some chicken breasts, or maybe grill them, serving them with some rice and nice fresh green veg. I had marinated them and frozen them on Sunday - thawed them out yesterday - with some leftover Italian dressing (having cleaned out my pantry). Was this my mistake? Freezing them in the dressing? In the end I asked my dh to grill them just because it was so hot inside. They were supposed to be done in something like 4 minutes per side, but they just didn't seem cooked (so said dh, usually an expert griller) 30 minutes after going outside, he came in with some shoe leather. Was he watching a Yankee game out there and did he fib? I don't think so. They did taste okay, but the texture was all wrong. Darn it! I have a package of frozen chicken breasts in the freezer, and I think I'm going to donate them to my neighbor - a better cook than me.
I pound them, sear them, bake them - they're always tough. I've started to just hate them. Help me please with my technique, or I may just quit cooking forever! (p.s. I'm looking for nicely browned, tender pieces - mainly I'd like to saute them properly) (p.p.s. I have an iron skillet, but also a heavy bottomed stainless steel skillet) (p.p.p.s. I don't have anything like Le Creuset, oh, woe).
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