Sheldon’s Corner: Why You Should Pound Chicken Breast Before Cooking
When it comes to food, you can’t really get more classic than the chicken breast. It’s not hard to see why, either- chicken breast makes for a relatively large, affordable cut of meat, that with the skin off, is a rather healthy source of protein. However, while readily available, it can be a little tricky to cook the perfect chicken breast; this is thanks to the awkward shape of it, which can make it difficult to cook evenly for a juicy, flavorful taste throughout the entire breast.
Now, if you happen to be a fan of chicken breast, but just hate when it comes out unevenly cooked, there’s no reason to fret. You also don’t have to go through the trouble of cutting it up beforehand or constantly flipping it back and forth for even coverage. In fact, all you need to do is read on for a simple solution with numerous benefits. After all, the solution for this potentially vexing problem is very simple: before you cook, or even cut your chicken breast, give it a good pounding.
Pounding your chicken breast will improve the quality of your meals in a number of ways. For starters, pounding out a chicken breast can get the meat nice and even- this means a pounded breast will cook more evenly compared to the awkwardly shaped original. Furthermore, pounding a breast to be more even will thin it out some, which will create a larger surface area exposed to heat. Put simply, it will cook faster. On top of that, by pounding the chicken before you cook it, you are tenderizing the meat some, which will also help it to cook faster.
All in all, these things mean that you get to greatly speed up that whole ‘cooking’ part of meals and skip to the much more entertaining ‘eating’ portion. Still, there are even more benefits for propounding your chicken breast. Not only do flatter chicken breasts cook faster, but they are also a little bit easier to cut and therefore, somewhat easier to eat too. Between the cooking and the eating, overall, a flatter chicken breast is just much easier to deal with.
To get started, all you need is something to wrap the chicken breast in before you get to pounding. This protects the chicken from contamination via whatever you’re pounding it with and protects everything else from getting chicken juice all over it. For wrapping, you have some options. You might opt for plastic wrap, but you’d probably be better served to use an appropriately sized freezer bag. This is because the bag provides you an advantage in the form of thicker material- it’s less likely to break from the force. Wax paper is also another option.
Compared to plastic wrap, the plastic bag method also offers you another pair of important advantages. First and foremost, if you have plans to marinate or season or even simply store the chicken (and be honest: chances are you’re doing at least one of those), it is already bagged up and ready to go- just add marinade. On top of that, it’s quicker and easier to bag and debag the chicken breast, compared to wrapping and unwrapping it. Still, in an absence of plastic bags, you can use plastic wrap, and it works just fine.
When it’s time to get to the actual pounding, again, you have options. These are generally more diverse than bag vs wrap, and ultimately it comes down to preference more than anything. Ideally, you’ll want to use a blunt object. Sharp or studded instruments can tear the bag, so a standard meat tenderizer might be a thing you *won’t* want to use. Your tool of choice should have some weight to it. You could use a standard hammer, for instance, or a spoon. Whatever the case, start pounding at the thickest part of the breast and move outward from there.
Think of it as a distance run, rather than a sprint. You’ll be better served going slowly, and be sure to check the chicken every so often. Too much force or too many blows can tear up the meat., or the bag. In any case, ¾ of an inch is an ideal thickness for your chicken breast. From there, it’s time to jump into the seasoning and marinade portion. If you are big on marinades, shaping the meat in this way will help your marinade affect all of the chicken breasts evenly, rather than not penetrating the breast’s thicker meat.
All in all, pounding your chicken breast before you cook it is a great way to take this healthy source of protein and make it even more efficient. You can apply cooking and flavoring much more evenly and easily than ever before, and if you decide to simply store it for later, you don’t need to waste time repackaging it if you opt for the plastic bag method. Flattened chicken can ease the process of cooking, allowing you to focus on other parts of meal prep instead of worrying about constantly flipping the chicken breast, or letting it dry out.
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