Many a pleasing physique has been built on a steady diet of chicken. And it’s no wonder, either. This white meat superfood is a fantastic source of clean protein, can be cooked in bulk and, unlike some meats, can (usually) be reheated into something that doesn’t bear the consistency of a shoe.
Chef Robert Irvine, of Restaurant: Impossible fame, knows a thing or two about this muscle-making staple. The straight-talking, hard-training culinary expert walks his talk when it comes to keeping fit and has used his decades of experience to make his relationship with chicken anything but ordinary. Here, he dishes (see what we did there?) his favorite four tips for rekindling your love affair with the bird.
1. Go Whole
It’s easy to fall back on your Costco-sized bags of chicken breasts but if you’re looking to break the boredom without breaking the bank, you may want to try a full bird.
“Roasting a whole chicken with herbs, lemon, carrots, onions, celery and garlic packed into the cavity of the chicken is a great way to guarantee great flavor,” says Irvine.
2. Brine The Bird
“Another way to infuse flavor and keep the chicken moist is to brine the chicken,” Irvine suggests. “This can be done with whole chicken, as well as any other cut bone-in or bone less.”
There are a few methods of brining to try, but a basic, wet brine is probably the easiest and most familiar. Try applying this pork tenderloin brining approach for your next batch of breasts.
3. Diversify Your Breasts
There’s nothing worse than batch-cooking a bunch of chicken with a particular recipe, then getting sick of said recipe by Wednesday. Many a Tupperware have gone untouched in the later days of the week because of this, letting tons of good chicken in landfills as a result. A better solution? Go plain.
“Boneless chicken breast is one of the most convenient multi-use cuts to use when thinking of quick and easy, along with variety,” he says. “A couple of thoughts for menu planning using the pre cooked, plain chicken are various chicken salads, chicken with vegetable soup, stir fry and fajitas.”
Try keeping your breast seasonings to a light coat of salt and pepper, then use the chicken in various recipes throughout the week to combat palate fatigue.
4. Don’t Be A Snob
Sure, it may be great to get those perfectly-measured butcher cuts of chicken but the randomized bags will suit you just fine…and save you a ton of dough.
“These are almost always cheaper by the pound,” says Irvine. “There is no need to by six or eight-ounce breast, which is usually more expensive, when you will be dicing or slicing the cooked chicken for various dished such as salads, stir fry, fajitas, etc.”
With more than 25 years in the culinary profession, Chef Robert Irvine has cooked his way through Europe, the Far East, the Caribbean and the Americas, in hotels and on the high seas. As the host of one of the Food Network’s highest rated shows, Restaurant: Impossible, Irvine saves struggling restaurants across America by assessing and overhauling the restaurant’s weakest spots. Irvine was previously the host of Food Network’s Dinner: Impossible and Worst Cooks in America, has authored two cookbooks, Mission: Cook! My Life, My Recipes And Making The Impossible Easy, and one healthy living book, Fit Fuel: A Chef’s Guide to Eating Well and Living Your Best Life. For more information on Chef Irvine, visit ChefIrvine.com.