Monday, March 18, 2013

Chef's Tip of the Week

Chicken Breast Tips

       One of the most used and promoted cuts of meat in the supermarket is boneless, skinless Chicken Breast. And why not? It's easy to use, versatile and very nutritious. The problem with this product is that you are losing all the other useful parts of the chicken by buying it separately. It is also more expensive because the butcher has had to process it more.
       At Repair My Recipe we know that not everybody has hours of time set aside in their day just to cook a meal. With that in mind instead of suggesting for you to break down a whole chicken we recommend using a Split Chicken Breast. This is a chicken breast that has the rib bones still intact and the skin on. This cut of meat is less expensive than buying skinless-boneless and it offers you more options of preparation. With the skin and bones on it creates a more flavorful and fatty piece of meat that can be used for braising. The rib bones can be removed, then cook the breast in a cast iron skillet leaving you with a beautiful crispy skin. Whatever preparation you decide on, using a split breast leaves you with chicken bones that can be saved and then used to make a homemade chicken stock.
     It only takes a few simple steps to turn this split chicken breast into a skinless-boneless one.

1. First remove the skin from the breast by simple pulling it off with your hands.

2. Once the skin is removed, flip the breasts to expose the rib bones. Using either a chef's knife or a boning knife, start at the large meaty side of the bone and slide your knife underneath it. Lifting the bone as you go make small cuts following the curve of the bone, trying to cut as little of the flesh off as possible.


3. Once the bones are removed, trim the small pieces of fat on the breast and what you are left with a skinless-boneless chicken breast and some bones.

     With these bones you can make one of the most simplistic and useful ingredients in your pantry,  homemade chicken stock. Every time you butcher some chicken at home save the bones in the freezer until you have accumulated 10 lbs. Now you are ready to make stock.

Chicken Stock
Yield: 1 gallon
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 3 hours

10 lbs chicken bones
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced leeks
5 garlic cloves
1/2 cup parsley, stems and leaves
1 Tbsp peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 gallons water
4 cups ice cubes

1. To first prepare for the stock, rinse the bones under cold water to remove any excess blood or fat that is still attached. 
2. Place the rinsed bones in a large stock pot, between 3 and 5 gallons, cover that with the water and ice cubes and bring to a simmer over medium heat. It is very important to begin with cold water, which is why you use the ice cubes. Bringing the stock up in temperature very slowly from ice cold to simmer will allow the impurities to rise and will leave you with a clearer stock. 
3. Once this mixture comes to a simmer use a ladle to gently skim off all of the impurities (white foam, fat, and particles) from the top. 
4. After skimming add all the vegetables and herbs to the pot and simmer for three hours. Continue to skim the top of the stock about every hour.
5. Now strain the stock through a mesh basket and immediately chill. Once cooled the stock should be rather thick and gelatinous, don't worry this is a good thing, it will become a liquid again once heated.  

        This stock will keep in the refrigerator for two weeks and can be frozen for three months. Having chicken stock on hand or any stock for that matter is an essential part of a restaurant kitchen. It can be used for the base of soups, sauces, braising liquids, and reduced to become a jus. It is a far more flavorful liquid to use in recipes that call for water  and once you begin using homemade you will never go back to boxed or canned.

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