Your best method, cooking breasts for chicken salad?

I know a lot of people just use leftover roasted chicken for making chicken salad (and I do, too, when I have it) but today a daughter asked me for chicken salad tonight, when I have no roast.

My usual for fresh breasts is to put them in salted water and simmer until no pink remains (appx 163°F), then let cool and shred.

But often that seems to result in a kind of a dry texture of the meat. The dressing more or less covers over this infraction, but if I have more meat than I want to use in the chicken salad, that extra definitely suffers from dryness.

So do you have a go-to method for cooking chicken breasts that doesn’t result in somewhat dry meat? A very low (200°F) oven roast? A “fake sous vide” with water in a pan kept at some lower than simmer temp?

Thanks!

poached.
barely simmering water.
slice thin - so the poaching only needs 6-10 minutes.

it is my “go-to” for chicken salad.

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Here is how I do it on the Stove Top.
Chicken and Liquid to 175F
Hold there for 15 - 20 min.
Turn off heat and allow to cool in Liquid at least 20 Min. up to an hour.

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Thanks!

I realized I was running out of time as I wrote my question and right thereafter started (below, new for me), so I’ll try your suggestion next (and we make a lot of chicken salad, so - soon).

For this time I salted the water moderately heavily (about 3%) and bisected the breasts horizontally (each one pretty thick, about 1 pound each breast) and am simmering at 150°F right now, with a plan to bring them up to 160 slowly.

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I steam them.

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Use the chicken to make chicken soup. Then use the same chicken for the chicken salad. The excess chicken can be shredded or cut up and added back into the soup.

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I do real sous vide. 150 for an hour or two (no longer). One of the very few ways I enjoy chicken breasts!

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When I’m intentionally making chicken breast for salad I also sous vide.

It also mentions " We recommend our cold-start, low-and-slow poaching method for supremely juicy results, or you can roast or grill the breasts until they register 150°F (66°C) on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part."

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:arrow_up: This. :arrow_up:

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Barely simmering water, salt, pepper, onion, celery, carrot included.
Will slice over sized cuts if necessary.

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Slow cooker… Add whatever spices your daughter likes to the water in the bottom. I score them before I put them in.

Maybe some teriyaki sauce in the water?? Cumin?? Garam Masala??

If you are in a hurry… pressure cooker also does a nice job.

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I’ve never been successful poaching them. I use bone-in, skin on chicken breasts when I don’t have leftover roast/rotisserie chicken. I rub them with a bit of olive oil, then season with salt/pepper and roast them at 350° for 35-40 minutes until they’re at 165°. Peel off skin/fat and remove bones when cool enough to handle - chop to use as needed for chicken salad, chicken enchiladas, etc. Always moist and flavorful.

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I agree on sous vide. For me, 142F for 2 hours (directly from the freezer).

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Like @retrospek except I use thighs. Even roasted blsl thighs are tastier than poached breasts.

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If I’m using thighs for chicken salad I usually grill them. Wegman’s used to have (and maybe still does) a fantastic grilled chicken salad in their deli and I stole the idea from them - a bit of char adds such a great flavor. I don’t do it with breasts, though, because they just get stringy and dried out.

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Me too, but usually only if I have left over grilled thighs from something else I am making.

Put in pot, cover with water. Salt, pepper maybe celery, thyme, half a lemon. Whatever I have around. Bring to a boil. Take off heat and let it sit in that water for minimum of 20 minutes. If it’s longer, it’s fine too.

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I too use the gentle poaching method. However, I use chicken broth and a little bit of schmaltz as my poaching liquid.

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I like both. There is a difference in taste and texture. Sometimes I prefer just chicken breast, as long as it’s not tasteless, dry and stringy lol.

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Poached, covered in water and a couple dashes of white pepper, 350° for about an hour, flipping once. Cool until handlable. Strain and freeze the liquid for stock, later. Refrigerate until needed. Never dry to me.

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