"Discover Cooking, Discuss Life."

Go Back   Discuss Cooking - Cooking Forums > Recipes & Ingredients > Chicken, Turkey & other Fowl
Click Here to Login
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 10-11-2014, 08:09 AM   #1
Senior Cook
 
callmaker60's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Camp Hill, Pa.
Posts: 229
How do they make chicken so tender?

When we eat out either at olive garden, macaronni grill, carabba's, and order the chicken, it's always so tender, to where you can almost pull it apart. Are they doing something to the chicken to make it that tender, or is it just the way it's cooked? Last night my wife had chicken marsalla, and it just fell apart.

callmaker60 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-11-2014, 08:47 AM   #2
Head Chef
 
GLC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Near Austin, Texas
Posts: 1,216
If yours isn't coming out so tender (assuming you're not trying to cook up the old rooster), most tough chicken problems are from inattention to temperature, overcooking. There are two issues. One is making the piece of chick equally thick throughout. Chicken goes from just right to real wrong in a very short time. You're aiming at 160F throughout, but if it's thick in one part and thin in another, you can't get one part right without getting the other underdone or overdone. You get it evenly thick by pounding it, which also somewhat tenderizes. But the main thing is to make it evenly thick.

Then, of course, you have to hit the 160F pretty close, without going over and overcooking it and making it tough. That's the so-called safe temperature for chicken. So you need an accurate meat thermometer. Remove the chicken when it hits 160F internally. Don't just turn the fire off or remove the pan from the stove.

I don't know how that restaurant operates, but a lot of restaurant cooking is done sous vide, low temperature, in vacuum sealed bags, in a water bath. In sous vide, the reality that tenderness and doneness are entirely different things comes home. You can take a meat, say chicken, to 160F in a sous vide water bath, and it will be done and will never get hotter and so will never get overdone. (You can really see this with beef, where beef in a 125F bath will be medium rare and stay medium rare, even if left in for hours.)

Tenderness is a matter of cooking time. (Unless the meat is already tender, like filet.) You can make a tough cut tender and still rare by loooong cooking at low temperature. Slow cookers work that way, except that the temperature is so high that all the meat comes out well done. The point is that a restaurant can prep chicken cuts in a sous vide bath well ahead of time. They won't have to pound, either, because the bath will be 160F, and that's as hot as the meat can get. If they want a piece, they fetch it out and use it or put grill marks on it. They just can't leave it in there as long a they do some beef, because it will start to fall apart. But it's very efficient, and it kind of explains some of why you can get a steak so quickly in some places.

Just a note. Brining, marinating, etc. do not tenderize. Marinades penetrate only a tiny fraction of an inch. Brining uses salt to move water around, and moist is not the same a tender. It's just that people who bother to brine are also generally more careful cooks and done overcook.

All that said, some of the restaurants you named are said to do their cooking from frozen boil-in-bags of precooked food, and they are all in the class of place I would suspect of doing so. This is not sous vide. It's boil-in-bag like you buy in the store. Check Yelp and try a real Italian restaurant near you. Why pay even cut-rate restaurant prices for frozen entrees? The chains simply cannot afford real cooking by real chefs. The Tuscany chef training is an advertising myth. Note that the brand new Italian Garden parent company CEO commented that he knew changes were in order when he learned they didn't salt the water for cooking pasta. He may have misunderstood. They don't need to salt the water if the pasta is precooked in a bag.
__________________
"Kitchen duty is awarded only to those of manifest excellence..." - The Master, Dogen
GLC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-11-2014, 09:17 AM   #3
Senior Cook
 
callmaker60's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Camp Hill, Pa.
Posts: 229
Thanks for taking the time and giving me a very good explanation to my question on chicken. So I'll watch my temp a lot closer.
callmaker60 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-11-2014, 03:37 PM   #4
Senior Cook
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: New Hampshire, USA
Posts: 295
Yes, brine

Brining does indeed help with chicken. According to Cook's Illustrated, anyway, who do their research.

" Brining promotes a change in the structure of the proteins in the muscle. The salt causes protein strands to become denatured, or unwound. This is the same process that occurs when proteins are exposed to heat, acid, or alcohol. When protein strands unwind, they get tangled up with one another, forming a matrix that traps water. "
Stock Pot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2014, 06:42 AM   #5
Chef Extraordinaire
 
buckytom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: My mountain
Posts: 21,539
has anyone ever tried to jaccard a piece of chicken, or run it through a tenderizer?
__________________
The past is gone it's all been said.
So here's to what the future brings,
I know tomorrow you'll find better things
buckytom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2014, 08:52 AM   #6
Certified Pretend Chef
 
Andy M.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 46,775
Quote:
Originally Posted by buckytom View Post
has anyone ever tried to jaccard a piece of chicken, or run it through a tenderizer?
I use a sort of jaccarding tool on flank steak.
Attached Images
 
__________________
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -Carl Sagan
Andy M. is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2014, 11:02 AM   #7
Master Chef
 
FrankZ's Avatar
Site Administrator
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Chesapeake Bay
Posts: 9,755
You can also use an immersion cooker and set it to 160F and then not have to worry about it overcooking.
__________________
"First you start with a pound of bologna..."
-My Grandmother on how to make ham salad.
FrankZ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2014, 11:21 AM   #8
Master Chef
 
Rocklobster's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Ottawa Valley, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 6,446
They sell pumped/enhanced chicken. Almost all restaurants do. At my place of work, we sell only fresh , unpumped chicken. It is a lot more expensive. I have used many different chicken breast products in my 30 years in the restaurant business and some were down right hideous. 100% Natural chicken does not fall apart like you have mentioned. The stuff your wife ate has been treated. Here is what they do to most of the chicken you can buy and eat every day...

It shows and explains the procedure at about 1:30 in, but if you watch the whole thing you will get a better understanding as to why they do it. As usual, follow the money.
Rocklobster is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-12-2014, 08:03 PM   #9
Assistant Cook
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Cali
Posts: 27
1. Brine over night
2. Cook chicken whole or not fillet
3. Don't over cook
manilak1d is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2014, 12:44 AM   #10
Executive Chef
 
Caslon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Ring of fire. So. Calif.
Posts: 3,287
What? noone mentioned buttermilk?
Caslon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2014, 12:53 AM   #11
Chef Extraordinaire
 
buckytom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: My mountain
Posts: 21,539
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
I use a sort of jaccarding tool on flank steak.
yup, something like that. i wonder if you can stab a chicken breast to tenderize it like you would a steak, or would it fall apart too easily?

normal pounding with a flat sided meat hammer definitely tenderizes chicken to a degree.
__________________
The past is gone it's all been said.
So here's to what the future brings,
I know tomorrow you'll find better things
buckytom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2014, 07:23 AM   #12
Chef Extraordinaire
 
GotGarlic's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Southeastern Virginia
Posts: 24,490
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caslon View Post
What? noone mentioned buttermilk?
Modern buttermilk and modern chickens are not the same as those from years ago, so it's no longer true that soaking chicken in buttermilk tenderizes it. Here's more info:

http://www.seriouseats.com/2012/11/d...uttermilk.html
__________________
Anyplace where people argue about food is a good place.
~ Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown, 2018
GotGarlic is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2014, 03:14 PM   #13
Assistant Cook
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 8
America's Test Kitchen

I have a great recipe from America's Test Kitchen that makes the chicken tender each time. Here's the link: Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts Recipe - America's Test Kitchen

ATK usually requires a membership to watch the videos, but I think at least the recipes are available without a membership. I am a member so I've seen the video that goes along with it and it's excellent. The main thing they do is they start the chicken in the oven first at a low temp, ea. side salted and several fork pokes in the thickest part, covered with tin foil, for about 30-40 minutes before pan searing it . There are other particulars that contribute to the tenderness. That's just one of them.
jonifan1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2014, 04:07 PM   #14
Certified/Certifiable
 
Chief Longwind Of The North's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: USA,Michigan
Posts: 10,427
For very tender chicken, cook until it's barely done. I achieve this through a few techniques. Here are my favorites.

1 oven-fried chicken. Dredge chicken in egg wash, and dust with seasoned flour. Pan fry in three inches of hot oil until just starting to brown. Place into a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes. REmove and serve with sides.

2. Stir-fry - Dice chicken into half-inch cubes. Get your pan screaming hot, add a couple tbs. of cooking oil. Add chicken cubes. Stir in pan until lightly browned on all sides. Serve immediately.

3. Velveted chicken. Make a marinade of 3 tbs. rice vinegar, 1 tbs. soy sauce, a dash of 5-spice powder, dash of onion powder, dash of garlic powder, 2 dashes cayenne pepper, 3 tbs. water, 1 tsp. cornstarch. Stir until all is well combined. Add thin strips of chicken (cut against the grain and pretty thin) with marinade into a plastic sealable bag. Close and remove as much air as possible. Massage bag to coat all chicken with marinade. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. Heat oil to 325 degrees, or bring water to a low boil, then reduce heat until the water is no longer boiling. Drain the chicken and place in either the hot oil, or water. Let sit until the coating turns opaque. Remove and set aside to use in whatever you're making. The meat is done through, and very tender.

Enjoy.

P.S. Did you know that geek originally refereed to unlucky performers in circus side shows who were billed as wild men and wild women. They typically bit the heads off of live chickens and such. So, eating undercooked poultry would make one a geek. There may be a few on this site who would qualify for the title. I'm not pointing at anyone. Let your imagination be your guide. And no, I've not eaten such a thing, worms baked in a burning milk carton, yes, undercooked chicken, no.

Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
__________________
“No amount of success outside the home can compensate for failure within the home…"

Check out my blog for the friendliest cooking instruction on the net. Go ahead. You know you want to.- https://gwnorthsfamilycookin.wordpress.com/
Chief Longwind Of The North is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-13-2014, 04:25 PM   #15
Senior Cook
 
callmaker60's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Camp Hill, Pa.
Posts: 229
Thanks everyone, you gave me lots of good info.
callmaker60 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-19-2015, 04:15 PM   #16
Assistant Cook
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Grosse Pointe, MI
Posts: 23
Took me years to cook perfect chicken. I invested in a good meat pounder to evenly flatten chicken breasts between saran pieces. I lightly salt, pepper and salute in heated olive oil. A good thermometer is also advised - such as Thermapen. It usually takes about 6 min per side for tender chicken. You can also lightly flour.
I don't bother pounding boneless skinless thighs. I throw them in a skillet with heated with a touch of oil. Add onion wedges, salt & pepper, soy or worcestershire. Cook gently for about 20 minutes. Divine!
Bubbles is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-19-2015, 07:20 PM   #17
Master Chef
 
Mad Cook's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: North West England
Posts: 5,134
Quote:
Originally Posted by callmaker60 View Post
When we eat out either at olive garden, macaronni grill, carabba's, and order the chicken, it's always so tender, to where you can almost pull it apart. Are they doing something to the chicken to make it that tender, or is it just the way it's cooked? Last night my wife had chicken marsalla, and it just fell apart.
The people who breed chickens for the table fatten them up and kill them at what is really only weeks old. In addition, unless you are lucky enough to buy free range chickens, they have been confined in a small area with little room to move about so they never develop strong muscles. Oh yes, and the birds are often injected with water or saline solution after slaughter and preparation in order to make them weigh more so they can charge more. Yes, I know, you thought that was to make the bird tastier or stop it getting dry in the cooking - wrong - it's to get more cash per pound.

Sorry to spoil your dinner if you are reading this while you're eating but it's a fact of life if the consumer wants a cheap, tender chicken
__________________
Don’t look for the light at the end of the tunnel. Stomp along and switch the bl**dy thing on yourself.
Mad Cook is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2015, 10:22 AM   #18
Executive Chef
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Pittsburgh PA
Posts: 3,134
This thread leads right into my question. If a recipe calls for marinating chicken in buttermilk would I be able to use plain yogurt instead? If I use buttermilk I would throw away any extra, but would use the leftover yogurt. Just trying not to be wasteful.
CarolPa is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2015, 10:43 AM   #19
Executive Chef
 
Selkie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 3,796
Yes, yogurt can be used as a marinade.
__________________
"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." - James Beard
Selkie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2015, 01:20 PM   #20
Executive Chef
 
RPCookin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Logan County, Colorado
Posts: 2,860
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarolPa View Post
This thread leads right into my question. If a recipe calls for marinating chicken in buttermilk would I be able to use plain yogurt instead? If I use buttermilk I would throw away any extra, but would use the leftover yogurt. Just trying not to be wasteful.
Buttermilk is good in some breads and batters. you can add a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning and some mayo to it for ranch dressing. Buttermilk pancakes and waffles are yummy. Lots of good things to do with leftover buttermilk.

Also, you can make your own buttermilk substitute by adding one tablespoon of white vinegar to 1 cup of milk, then let it sit for 5 minutes. I did this a lot when we lived in the Bahamas, because no place on our island carried buttermilk.
__________________
Rick
RPCookin is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
chicken

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off




All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:37 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.