Cooking · Food · Meal Building Blocks

Kitchen Building Blocks: Precooked Chicken

Do you love to make meals using precooked chicken? Casseroles, salads, additions to noodles or rice on the side? Do you look for options that don’t require getting a rotisserie chicken and taking the meat off the bones?

I admit it. I’m a lazy cook. I like to get the best flavor, easiest preparation with the least amount of effort. I also like to take advantage of what is on offer at my local market. How do I do this? Easy.

Pick up family packs or flat packs of chicken pieces and cook them the easy way. These larger sized packages are easier on the budget, provide a lot of product for multiple uses, and can be cooked for later use.

Option One: Slow Cooker

One of my favorite things to do is to line my slow cooker with a liner, put all the chicken in it, set it on Low for 8 to 10 hours and walk away. You can set up your slow cooker to work overnight. The only problem is you will wake up to a house filled with wonderful smells. 🙂

Why do I leave it in for eight to ten hours? You can cook it until the 165 degree temperature but chances are the meat will be a bit tough and dry. By leaving it in a bit longer, the meat will soften and be a bit juicier.

You can season or not as you like. I prefer not to season. I also don’t add any liquid to the pot. The meat will have its own juices which, if you use boneless skinless pieces will render a mostly fat free but lusciously flavored broth that can be used for making rice or soups.

Option Two: Oven Roasting

Don’t have a slow cooker or in a bit of a hurry? You can put the flat of meat into a roasting pan and into the oven at 350 degrees for about an hour or until fully cooked. You might want to add a little bit of water to the pan to prevent the meat from sticking or burning.

What Next?

Okay, you’ve cooked your chicken. Frankly, it is quite a bit of chicken. What to do with it?

You can chop up the chicken into fork sized pieces, separate it in one cup measures into freezer bags and then freeze it. Don’t forget to mark the bags with the contents and the date you froze it.

When you want to put together a recipe that requires cooked chicken, take out the appropriate amount to defrost and then make your recipe.

When you consider the average boneless chicken breast equals one cup, and the family sized package usually contains ten breasts, you will have ten cups of chicken for, say, ten different meals.

You can do the same with boneless chicken thighs. Thigh meat tends to be juicier but its smaller size won’t equal the same amount as the breasts.

Why use boneless rather than bone in? Frankly it is easier to cook and you won’t have to remove the meat from the bone. However, bones do provide flavor, so if you don’t object to the extra step after cooking, go for it!

Want an easy dinner for the holidays? If you can get a breast of turkey, put it in the slow cooker and cook it the same as for the chicken. By using the long slow cooking method the meat will be tender, juicy, and flavorful. Not to mention stress free. 🙂

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