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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Better reheated: Cheap cuts

Braised chicken thighs with wild mushrooms.
One thing I hate seeing is the use of chicken breast meat in things like soups. The delicate, low fat meat just overcooks, and turns into this stringy chalky mess. When planning on cooking meats that you plan on portioning out and reheating, the choice of cut is as important as the method used to cook it. In general, cuts that include the bone, be it chicken thighs, or shank or ribs, reheat better. The bone itself serves to provide additional collagen as it reheats. Moreover, these cuts of meat tend to have a little more intramuscular fat and connective tissue, and that promotes flavor, and as the meat reheats and recooks, it actually gets more tender.

Which leads me to the related issue of cooking technique. These cuts of meat tend to be cheaper in part because they take longer to cook. That means that the ideal methods to cook these meats are low moist heat over a long period of time: perfect for the slow cooker. Braising is perhaps the ideal method - the basic technique is to brown the meat, add some flavoring agents, put into the slow cooker with a little bit of flavorful liquid, and let it cook overnight. Then, as you reheat it, things get better.

1 comment:

  1. Great point on reheating. To add to that (which I'm sure you already know), it takes a longer time at stewing temperature for the gelatin to break down again. If it's the final intent, it's easier for the braised meat to stay whole if it's left to chill and then reheated as opposed to serving immediately.