Chicken breast is beloved in the health & fitness community and is a truly versatile cut of meat.
With the majority of chicken fat being concentrated in the skin, the breast is a great lean source of protein that acts a tasty blank slate for many meals and cuisines all over the world.
Chicken breast has become a favourite for gym goes because of its versatility, low cost compared to red meats and its high protein content. This makes it a staple in 'meal prep' plans and healthy recipes. Because of its low fat content though, breast meat can easily be overcooked leading to a dry and unpleasant texture - we've all had the dreaded feeling of chewing on reheated chunks of chicken for the fourth day in a row tasting like sawdust, I'm sure!
As mentioned, chicken breast is extremely versatile, so you don't have to be bored if you're eating it often as a part of your bulking and/or shredding diet.
There is no better time than now to perfect your meal prepping skills and we've compiled 5 delicious tricks and tips to get the best out of your breast.
Try our tips below!
1. Shred it
Chicken can become boring not only because of the taste but because of the texture as well. Shredding your chicken breast can make it even more versatile and give you a good break from the dry chunks you might be used to.
Cook 1-2 breasts at a time this way by simmering the chicken in lightly salted water for about 15 minutes, or until the chicken is just cooked through, they will continue to cook slightly once you take them out of the hot water so don't over do it or they'll become dry!
Once they're out of the hot water, let the breasts cool, this makes the meat easier to tear. Place the cool chicken breasts in a bowl and use two forks to shred the meat by running the forks down the length of the breast in opposite directions.
Once the meat is shredded you can add a number of tasty ingredients to it like a light mayo and chopped chives or a low - fat chilli sauce for some spicy kick. This mixture can be eaten on sandwiches, on its own as part of your lunch prep or even as a great chicken filler for tacos or homemade quesadillas.
2. Stuff it
Stuffing your chicken breast is a great way to get extra flavour into the meat, and also get a better, juicier cook. Having the breast meat wrapped around tasty filling means that the thickness of the meat itself is thinner, which means it takes less time to cook and runs less risk of over cooking and drying out.
First, 'butterfly' the chicken by slicing horizontally into the breast, dividing it in half. Stop about half an inch from the opposite side so that it stays connected. Lay the breast flat, give it a bash with a rolling pin to flatten it out and then add ingredients to stuff!
A mixture of spinach and cream cheese is a popular choice for stuffing, or you can even make a simple pesto chicken by blending basil, olive oil and pine nuts and laying a few spoonfuls onto one side of your butterflied breast. Once your filling is on the meat, fold the two sides together and bake for 18-20 minutes.
3. Wrap it
Wrapping chicken breast in tin foil or something similar is a great way to prevent it from drying out while cooking. Having a heat barrier like tin foil means the meat is less harshly exposed and allows the juices to stay within the breast.
Individually wrapping chicken breasts in foil also means that you can cook them along side your other meal components like roast veges super easily. This method is also good for infusing flavour into the meat itself; lining the foil and wrapping it tightly filled with slices of lemon, garlic or any fragrant ingredients of your choice will help the chicken absorb those flavours way better than if you fried it or baked it on its own.
4. Slow Cook It
Like chicken breast, a slow cooker itself is a very versatile piece of equipment. Cooking low - and - slow allows the meat to hold on to its own moisture and absorb some of what it's cooked in, like savoury tinned tomatoes or chicken stock. You can leave several chicken breasts to cook for a couple of hours in a slow cooker throughout the day while you get other things done, then pair the meat up with rice and veges for easy bulk lunches for days to come.
Slow cooked chicken breast should be soft and tender, so even if you do have to reheat it in the microwave it will be much more resistant to drying thanks to the delicious sauces that you've cooked it in.
5. Rest it
Whether you've decided to bake, slow - cook, fry or grill your chicken breast, you should always rest it!
You should think of chicken like a good steak, it needs to rest. Once you pull it out of the oven (or pan) to stop the heat, let it sit for a few minutes before slicing into it to allow for the juices to redistribute themselves back through the meat. This process allows for the collagen in the breast to thicken the juices, resulting in the moistest possible piece of meat.
Practice these 5 tricks while on lockdown to make your lunch and dinners interesting and tasty once real life kicks in again. Once you get back to work and working out, your juicy chicken meal prep will be the envy of everyone at the gym and in the office!