Monday, April 19, 2010

36. Chicken Breast Strips - Alektorophobia...NOT

If you were a fan of the television program, Monk, you had to know that Mr. Monk was afraid of almost everything. Alektorophobia was probably on his is the fear of chickens!  Most people do not suffer from that phobia which is a good thing because there are actually more chickens on earth than there are humans. In fact, in China, alone there are over 3 billion of them at any given time.

While a chicken could live up to 20 years, laying hens are usually only around between 5-11 years...I suppose their life span is determined by their egg-laying capability. Chickens meant for the table, on the other hand, live to the ripe old age of 6 weeks, while free-range meat chickens are allowed to grow for 14 weeks.

Not long ago, I was invited to a chicken butchering day held by some Mennonite friends. The chickens were grown on one of the farms as a source of food for their community. On the big day, I was, surprisingly, not put off by the event. I do not think I could have whacked off the heads, though...a chore in which the little boys seemed to take great delight.

The whole process was very systematic and went quickly in spite of more than a hundred chickens being processed. These free-range chickens were much larger than those sold in grocery stores and, when cooked, the meat was juicy and I thought the flavor was exceptionally fresh. My husband, on the other hand, could barely choke it down...he just could not get the picture of the processing out of his mind!

Most people in the world enjoy chickens for the following two reasons:  egg production and as the source for relatively inexpensive meat. Due to the popularity of this meat, chicken recipes proliferate on the site alone, has over four thousand.

We all have our favorite recipes and, if your mother cooked chicken a certain way, chances are, you probably fix it the same way, too. I used to cook boneless chicken breasts the way my mother did until I read a recipe on the back of one of the frozen-chicken breast packages. I suppose if I had thought about the chemistry involved, I could have figured out how to cook more tasty and juicy pieces of breast meat, but tradition prevailed and, for years, I just cooked it as I had been taught.

Today's recipe uses the method I learned by reading the suggestion on the chicken bag. It is quick and easy and produces wonderful tender, juicy pieces of meat that can be used in hundreds of ways...use your imagination! *See note at end of recipe.

Diane's  Chicken Breast Strips

Heat a large pan on med-high. When hot, add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Place frozen chicken breasts in pan and cook for five minutes. Do not crowd the breasts or they will steam-cook instead of  browning. Use tongs to turn the breasts over and heat the second side for five minutes. Sprinkle seasoning on the chicken. I use pepper blends and basil. Turn breasts a second time and season that second side.

After (2) 5-minute browing segments on each side, take the pan off the burner and remove the breasts to a cutting board. With a sharp knife slice breasts on the diagonal into 1/2 inch wide strips. The center of the chicken will still be slightly frozen and pink. Add chicken strips back to pan and return pan to the burner. 

Add more olive oil to pan to keep the meat from burning and saute slices until all sides are golden and the pink color is no longer present. Other seasonings, like garlic and onion, may be introduced during this part of the browing process. Serve immediately or chill for use in a salad.

These tender, juicy chicken strips can be used in many types of recipes including oriental stir-fry and Italian pasta dishes. They may also be served, as is, along with vegetables of your choice.

*Note: You may choose to leave the breasts unsliced; just continue to cook each side, turning at 5 minute intervals. Check for doneness by making a slit in the meat. When it is no longer pink, it will be ready to eat. Very large breasts may be butterflied after the browning process described above. Continue to brown meat after slicing the breast carefully. Be sure to season cut side. Add olive oil as needed to keep meat from burning.

1 comment:

  1. Marian wrote: Your chicken breast recipe sounds good. Maybe I'll use it for some that I have in the freezer.

    I remember, growing up on the farm, the procedure for killing chickens. I was never permitted to chop the heads off because my hand/eye coordination was always just about nil. However, I was there in the plucking line, after the chickens were scalded. I also recall butchering a hog. On those occasions, I was only permitted to watch!