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Brining or other ways to keep meat moist



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MUSCATDBQ
SparkPoints: (3,439)
Fitness Minutes: (1,708)
Posts: 214
3/14/13 6:29 P

I usually try to use dark meat chicken unless it is an ingredient in a casserole or some such. I have never really been fond of white meat mainly due to the dryness, I think.

I also started buying whole chickens from the neighbor. It ends up costing a bit more but I know where the money goes, what the chickens were fed, and know that the got to live decent lives (for a chicken). That said, I steer clear of their house during butchering day...hate watching it!



BUNNYKICKS
Posts: 2,299
3/14/13 5:56 P

Well honestly, i think chicken has "changed" in 50 years. They raise those little devils so quickly now, on a different sort of diet than they used to get pecking around on the family-farm... I have noticed that the fat on a chicken is very white - whereas fat USED to be very yellowy or even almost orange. This really hit home to me when I was travelling through southern Mexico and the chickens for sale in the markets "looked like how i remember chicken looked" when i was a kid. Yellow fat! (And yes, they taste more tender and "chickeny" than the skinless-boneless fryer-fillets you get pre-packed from the supermarket).

Also due to consumer expectations for "lean meat" the meat processors trim off much more of the visible fat than they might have done "back in the day." And when you try to cook white meat without skin and a moisturizing layer of fat... yeah. DRY!



YOJULEZ
SparkPoints: (15,605)
Fitness Minutes: (120)
Posts: 2,171
3/14/13 5:54 P

FANCY, I have lots of good chicken recipes but the first part of this one in particular yields a moist chicken: traceysculinaryadventures.blogspot.com/201
2/03/lemon-chicken.html#.UUJGlRysiSo
I usually skip the lemon pan sauce step to avoid using the extra butter, and I don't think the chicken needs it....and it makes it just a plain piece of chicken that you can season and top wth whatever flavors you want.



FANCYQTR
Posts: 5,183
3/14/13 5:44 P

I've been cooking for about 50 years. Just been having trouble with things the last 3 or 4 years (except baked goods, which has been a problem for about 15 because of the oven). I don't have money for a new stove and oven and did get a thermometer for it, but it doesn't hold the temperature. At least now I can make some things as long as I don't have too many to work on.

I used to experiment and make different types of chicken (not from recipes or cookbooks) and it always came out good. Now I don't have that fortune with it.



NIRERIN
Posts: 11,811
3/14/13 3:54 P

If you are a beginner cook, check out the starving student line of cookbooks. They are designed for students living in a dorm who do not know a pot from a pan ( and probably only have one or the other to begin with) and as such cover the basics.



FANCYQTR
Posts: 5,183
3/14/13 3:11 P

I am thinking of changing to the thighs for chicken. The chuck is usually the only roast I can afford, but it sure is high in calories from the fat. I cook that in the crock pot and have to do it until it is falling apart because I have trouble chewing it. I do have an oven thermostat that a friend suggested I get because I had trouble getting anything baked in that oven (had it set at 400 for some muffins I was making for a fundraiser one day and found out it was 475 in the oven when I smelled them burning when they had been in about 3 minutes).

Thanks for the suggestions.



BERKANA_T
Posts: 138
3/14/13 12:42 P

Any meat that we're cooking, except for whole chicken and similar, we generally sear on all sides first. This seals in the juices and helps prevent the meat from drying out as it cooks. I've also found that letting meat rest before serving helps, especially if you make sure to not put the meat directly on a plate. We use a couple of chopsticks to keep the meat slightly elevated, which reduces the amount of juices that end up on the plate instead of in the meat where it belongs.



BUNNYKICKS
Posts: 2,299
3/14/13 11:48 A

I find it very difficult to keep boneless-skinless chicken breast from drying out, no matter how i cook it - it's just a dry kind of meat.

I tend to slice the breasts in half to make them like two thin breast fillets, and then cook them quickly (bbq or fry). The fact that they are "thin" seems to make them less chewy-tough, to me.

Or slice thin and cook quickly as part of a stir-fry; they work well like that too.

For baking, you might prefer boneless-skinless thigh meat (slightly higher in calories/fat but much more enjoyable, in my opinion).





TURTLESDOVE
Posts: 1,061
3/14/13 11:38 A

I just use my trusty ole crockpot. Set it and forget it. Come home to a house with a nice aroma and dinner already done, except for sides and bread. Great invention!
Oh, and my roast, chicken, or whatever it may be, is always moist and delicious!



MISSRUTH
Posts: 3,378
3/14/13 11:33 A

And perhaps an oven thermometer as well. When we bought our new house, I immediately bought an oven themometer because I wasn't sure the oven was accurate, like my old stove was.



YOJULEZ
SparkPoints: (15,605)
Fitness Minutes: (120)
Posts: 2,171
3/14/13 11:26 A

I would suggest you get a meat thermometer, because oven temps can be off. I know mine is about 15 degrees off, so I just go off what the meat thermometer says. I don't cook to 165 either. I cook to maybe 135-140 and then let it sit for a bit. I've never had raw chicken that way, and I don't have dry chicken either. For a larger breast and an oven temp of 375-400, this means it cooks for 20-25 minutes. If it's a whole bird, I'll cook to 145-150. Also, if your breasts are thicker in one end than the other, I would suggest you pound them out so they're more even. If they're extra thick, you can try cutting them in half lengthwise, so you have two thinner pieces. That way they cook more evenly.

Oh, also I'm at about 5400' altitude. I've found that's not really high enough to affect things, I think it's really only when you get to like 7000+ that you really have to make changes.

Edited by: YOJULEZ at: 3/14/2013 (11:27)


MISSRUTH
Posts: 3,378
3/14/13 11:20 A

I am so glad you came back and posted again!

I'm not experienced with cooking at a higher altitude. I googled it real quick and came up with this from the USDA

www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/high_altitude
_cooking_and_food_safety/index.asp


There is a ton of information in that factsheet and it may help you out more than I ever could.



FANCYQTR
Posts: 5,183
3/14/13 11:08 A

I have been trying to not get the chicken overcooked. I usually cook the chicken breast for 40 minutes at between 325 and 350 (the oven doesn't have the temperature exactly right). If I cook it for less time it is always part raw. I also always have some kind of marinade or sauce on it or some water or broth in with it.

The roast I made in the crock pot and it was a chuck roast this time. I added some water and I had a spice rub on it plus a few vegetables in with it.

I am at high altitude (not mountain high, though) and have followed recipes. The last one I followed I had to throw out the chicken because it was so dry. I cooked it (in crock pot) 2 hours less time than what it said. Maybe I should inject the meat with some moisture/spice. I don't know if that would work or not.

ps: I am not a totally beginner cook (only fried chicken has never been my forte). I have just been trying to find different ways to make the chicken so I don't always have the same old taste.

Edited by: FANCYQTR at: 3/14/2013 (11:11)


DRAGONCHILDE
SparkPoints: (56,434)
Fitness Minutes: (14,252)
Posts: 9,588
3/14/13 8:54 A

If your meat is coming out dry, you're likely overcooking it. In general, the way to keep meat moist is to mind the temperatures and the techniques. Cooking a whole chicken with the skin on, and removing the skin after cooking, is a great way to trap moisture in your breasts. With the roast, perhaps try a different cut.



SUNSHINE6442
Posts: 1,794
3/14/13 8:28 A

Maybe try chicken legs without the skin, as they are only around 72 calories each and the dark meat seems to be much tastier and less dry. Check the label on your chicken breasts as most of our chicken in America is pumped up with sodium so they look plumper, especially if you have HBP. I agree to not overcook the chicken and add liquid.

Maybe a splash of lemon juice, lemon or orange zest...gives the chicken a nice flavor Mrs Dash spice to flavor....and low or sodium free chicken broth..



NIRERIN
Posts: 11,811
3/14/13 8:22 A

if you're having problems with your cooking i would say to find a cookbook you like the recipes in and follow it to a T. this way you learn the technique and once you have that down you can go back to your favorite recipes and fix the thing that is making them too dry.



MISSRUTH
Posts: 3,378
3/14/13 7:25 A

By definition, "brine" is salt water. So basically you'd be looking for some other way to cook the meat, or a different cut of meat. Eye of round roast, for example, can be a very dry cut; there isn't fat marbled through the meat. Chicken breasts are usually drier than thighs; but overcooking is probably the biggest reason why they'd come out tasting dry. If you cook them in a liquid (can be as simple as water with some onion, garlic, herbs added for flavor) they won't be dry.

With any meat, overcooking can make it dry. Broiled or baked chicken breasts for example-- you've got little slabs of meat exposed to the dry heat of the oven. Leave them in too long and the water in the meat evaporates. A meat thermometer is really helpful.

Usually cooking any meat in the crockpot will make it less dry; I always add at least a couple cups of liquid to any meat I cook in the crockpot, even if it's just water. I do whole turkey breasts that way and the meat is very moist.

Is there something in particular that you're looking to cook?



BUBBLEJ1
SparkPoints: (21,988)
Fitness Minutes: (20,943)
Posts: 2,801
3/14/13 5:06 A

When my mum cooks meat she just uses plain water, no salt. Tastes great to me. Or try low sodium stock.



FANCYQTR
Posts: 5,183
3/14/13 2:43 A

Is there anything that can be used to brine meat besides water with a lot of salt in it? One, I don't like a lot of salt and two, I have HBP so need to try to keep sodium low. My chicken breast, for sure, comes out too dry. My roast comes out pretty dry, too. The roast I cook in the slow cooker. Chicken is baked, grilled, or made into soup usually.



 
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