T Nation

Food Prep Techniques Thread

I went out to Applebee’s the other day when I was with friends and decided to try their salad just to see the difference between theirs and the ones I make. I know the salad probably isn’t that healthy, but I thought I’d give it a shot.

When it arrived, it was delicious. Instead of the dry, tough chicken I make for myself, the chicken was moist, appetizing, and delicious. Instead of forcing myself to choke down leaves, I actually enjoyed the shredded lettuce, the oranges, the dried cranberries. Regardless, the flavor itself was delicious.

It made me decide that it was about time to start focusing on making my meals more appetizing. Just because I’m eating healthy doesn’t mean it has to taste like cardboard. I think a lot of people at T-Nation feel the same, so I started this thread so we could share the techniques we use to make salads tasty, meats edible, and eating healthy worthwhile.

There are already recipe threads out there - the intention here is different. Do you know how to cook a chicken breast to perfection? A secret that makes your salads great? Or just guidelines for people who have never cooked in their lives? Here’s the place to share. Hope we can come up with some good tips.

the key to getting the chicken breasts just right is to start with good meat (perhaps free-range or organic) which has not been frozen and cook it slowly. most of the time when i see someone ruin meat it is because they tried to cook it too fast. also for baking, 325 degrees for 45-50 mintues should do it.

Since my Foreman took a dump a month ago, I’ve been cooking all of my meat on the stovetop in pans. Preheat the pan on medium heat and put a little olive oil in it. Use a mallet or fist to flatten chicken breast before putting them on the heat. I personally cut up my chicken with kitchen shears because I think it cooks faster, but that’s personal preference.

Toss chicken in pan and spread it out and leave it alone for 4-5 minutes. Flip chicken over and let sit for another 4ish minutes. This is typically a no-no, but if you can’t tell the doneness of the meat, cut it at the thickest point to check.

If not done, reduce heat and keep flipping every couple of minutes until it’s done. The chicken should have a nice sear on either side which makes it quite tasty. Portion chicken into individual containers. The same can be done for red meat, only difference being how done you like the meat.

As for veggies, I only buy frozen. I’ll take a couple 2lb bags and dump them in a tupperware bowl and put that in the fridge. When I get food ready for the day, I toss the now-thawed veggies in with the meat. Usually I make sure the veggies take up twice as much room as the meat.

What everyone else said is true, but there’s something else.

Chicken that most restruants get is injected with a salt-water solution that makes it insanely juicy, if cooked right.

If you don’t actually care about where the calories come from, I recommend to marinate the chicken breasts in Kefir, or yogurt before cooking.

Olesya

[quote]IL Cazzo wrote:
What everyone else said is true, but there’s something else.

Chicken that most restruants get is injected with a salt-water solution that makes it insanely juicy, if cooked right. [/quote]

You can duplicate this effect by brining the chicken beforehand. 3 tablespoons of salt and 1 of sugar per quart of water, then soak the meat for an hour. The actual amount of sodium and sugar absorbed by the meat is negligible.

http://www.cookingforengineers.com/article/70/Brining