I cook and freeze chicken and poultry to use for meals later. I'm finding that the meat is very dry. Any suggestions on how to prevent this from occurring?
Thanks to the editors for posting all the previous replies about dry chicken ~ <P>
I should clarify -- the chicken is fine after being cooked, it is when I freeze it and it thaws out that it becomes dry. So I am havig issues with the freezing step.
If you don't mind not having nice, crispy skin, you can do what I do and cook a whole chicken or breasts in a crock pot. Just season and add a little water or broth to prevent sticking. It comes out delicious, tender and very juicy. It takes a few hours but you can tell when its done by cutting into it at the joint and make sure the meat is no longer pink and that the juice is not running with blood.
I am chuckling about this because everyone is giving you cooking tips but that isn't your issue. It is how the chicken comes out after freezing it. the only thing I can think of is that you freeze it in some juice/gravy as well, then when it thaws it will thaw in the juice unless of course if you grill it. This is a tough one because I am not sure there is a definite solution. Sorry I wasn't much help.
What works for me is to cook my chicken in a crockpot versus oven. I like dark meat chicken, so I will buy family packs (when on sale) of boneless thighs, cook in crockpot on a weekend afternoon. Shred or cube chicken, and store in freezer bag. I also make sure to get as much air out of the freezer bag as possible..I think this may help as well. I make casseroles and chicken salad, etc. during the week from this chicken, and I haven't had any dry chicken yet from the freezer. Hope this might work for you.
Skinless chicken will dry out alot faster than if you buy chicken with the skin on it. No matter how you prepare it, buy the chicken with skin. You can always take the skin off after you prepare it. You'll have a more moister meat and more flavor. Best of luck!
1) I use one of those Reynolds Handi Vac machines in order to package up bulk chicken pieces for freezing. It gets all the air out of the bag and helps to insure it is fresh when I am ready to cook it.
2) As for the actual cooking process, I use organic olive oil for baking. I guess any oil would do for this, but I use organic olive oil for health reasons. It helps to insure that the chicken doesn't get dried out during cooking. I bake my chicken in a pan and cover it with either a glass lid or foil. Cooking with a slow cooker could work, too, but I don't have one.
Soak in brine overnight. That is the only way to moisten, (as said in the other post). Get real and do it, you will not be sad, but you will be glad. Do it now: for tomorrow will be yum.
When we bake a bird at my house we turn it upside down so that the breast is against the cooking pan. It forces all the juice in the bird to run through the breast which helps keeps it nice and moist. (02/08/2006)
I used to have the same problem whether I marinated them or not until I tried cooking the chicken breasts at a low temperature over a longer period of time. Try marinating them them for an hour then place into a baking dish, into oven at 250 degrees for an hour, and you would not believe how tender and moist your chicken breasts will turn out. I have not yet tried with thighs etc, but would assume they may need slightly longer time. Good luck! (02/09/2006)
I'm wondering if you are overcooking the chicken because you are afraid of salmonella. Do you have a meat thermometer? (One of the best kitchen investments ever!) Chicken needs to be cooked to between 165-175 degrees to be safe to eat. But you would take it out about 5-10 degrees cooler and let it rest for 10 minutes to let the juices redistribute. Don't worry if it's a little pink...if the thermometer reads 165-175, you're okay.
I have also heard that brining the meat before you cook it helps to keep it moist, but I, for one, have never tried this. (02/09/2006)
If you cook at a lower temperature for a longer period of time that does give good results, however, use a thermometer to be certain a safe internal temperature has been achieved. This method works for beef roasts & other meats also. Pouring a thin layer of water in the bottom of the baking pan can help keep meats moist. (02/09/2006)
I used to serve what hubby called 'chicken jerky' as no one was going to die from raw chicken.
Solution: when baking I use chicken broth and cover with foil. I put lemon and a little butter on the breasts with salt, pepper and it tastes good
When using grill; I parboil in beer just
rinse chicken and put into stock pot and add
garlic, salt, pepper and beer to cover and when it
comes to boil that is parboil take chicken and put
on grill it is very tasty and alcohol cooks out
it tastes soo good and no worry
it took me along time to eat properly cooked chicken as I thought it had to be burnt to be decent. (02/09/2006)
I heard that you can soak it in water with some apple cider vinegar for an hour or so, it helps keep moist. Have not tried it yet though.
My favorite way to have chicken is place chicken breasts in a shallow baking dish, squeeze fresh lemon juice & bits of lemon pulp (can also put lemon slices in, too, if you'd like) over them and sprinkle with fresh or dried rosemary. Cover with tinfoil & bake for 45-60 minutes at 350 degrees. MMMMMM!!! So yummy!! Can serve over hot cooked rice or noodles. (02/10/2006)
I love making chicken breasts because they are so healthy. I put mine in a skillet, sprayed with Pam and cover. I season them with salt and pepper, Lawry's salt and peppered seasoning. At first there will be a lot of moisture in the pan. When it starts to dry out I add water to cover the bottom of the pan and continue to do so until they are done. They turn out to be moist and absolutely delicious. (02/10/2006)
Since chicken is a protein, you need to cook at a lower temp. (same with eggs- omelets/scrambled)
Keep the skin on and remove when finished cooking, this will keep the meat moist and juicy. If you are going to fry your chicken, soak overnight in buttermilk. Baking your chicken? breast side down, traps the juice. I stuff the cavity with rosemary, lemon, onion and a few cloves of garlic. If I'm going to cook on the grill, I butterfly the breasts and use a marinate of pineapple and orange juice and seasonings of choice. Soak for about an hour or more. Do not keep turning or you will dry out the meat. Buy a meat thermometer and I guarantee you will NEVER have overcooked dry meat in your house! (02/10/2006)
Brining is the key. I've used this method over and over again with great results. It is also the method recommended by Cook's Illustrated magazine (the magazine of America's Test Kitchen television show).
Simply dissolve 1/2 cup of kosher salt (or 1/4 cup regular table salt) in 4 cups of cold water. Soak the chicken pieces in this solution for 2 to 4 hours. Then take them out, and cook in whatever manner you prefer.
This method changes the molecular structure of the protein strands so that instead of contracting and squeezing all the liquid out (like it normally would) when cooked, the strands stay more separate and retain a lot of the juices. This method also works wonderfully for pork chops (another contender for "driest cut of meat" fame), and for your Thanksgiving turkey (just make a large quantity of the brining liquid, in the same salt-to-water ratio as mentioned above).
Yes, soaking the chicken in the brine will add a bit of salty taste to the meat. Just reduce or omit the salt that you would otherwise add during cooking. Oh, if you are going to make the chicken in an oriental style, you could also brine the chicken by marinating it in soy sauce or Teriyaki sauce instead of the salt water.
Good luck! (02/10/2006)
Parboil in beer with seasoning (I use a little garlic and black pepper, but occasionally some other stuff, depending on how I'm going to cook it). Then to fry, bread it as usual. To barbecue, just toss it on the grill. An alternative for barbecue is to coat it with yellow mustard and let the mustard burn off, but it's still a good idea to parboil it in beer first. And any seasoning you're looking for... garlic or hot pepper or curry powder, whatever... can be added to the beer. And don't worry, the alcohol cooks out so nobody's going to cop a buzz on your chicken. They might like it though. (02/14/2006)
Oops! one thing I forgot to mention: do not add salt prior to or during cooking. It will dry the meat out. It's much better to add it after the cooking is done, and personally I prefer to add it at the table. I know how much salt I like but I don't presume to know how much anyone else likes. (02/14/2006)
I marinate mine in Seven Seas Italian dressing for 30minutes before grilling.
Regardless of the chicken dish I am making, I always brown my chicken (pork too) in a pan sprayed with cooking spray. 99% of the time my chicken is moist (except when I don't hear the timer or lose track of time). (02/15/2006)
Most times, chicken is dry due to overcooking. I cook my chicken breast 5-6 minutes on each side. I've never had a dry piece. If the chicken is especially thick, I sometimes put it in the microwave for a couple minutes. It still comes out nice and moist, as well as flavorful. (07/18/2006)