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I am cooking the chicken breast (together with bones and cut into 4 main pieces) in a soup.

(The soup was cooked with some other ingredients first and then the chicken was pieces was thrown after 1 hour of cooking the soup. The fire was removed after boiling the chicken for 15 minutes)

However, I notice that the chicken meat when taken out, some are rather uncooked (the outside of the meat is OK but the inside towards the bones is not. Some are rather overcooked as the meat is tough to chew (the outside layer was like plastic and the inside towards the bones are rather hard).

How do I maintain the consistency such that all the 4 pieces of meat are not under cooked and over cooked?

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Overcooked chicken (if boiled) is not chewy. –  slim Feb 4 '13 at 11:50
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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

It is fairly atypical to cook large, bone-on pieces of chicken—including breasts—directly in soup. After all, who wants to find bones in their soup? (Making stock is another story....)

Bone on chicken breasts difficult to cook evenly, due to their shape. Some parts are thin, and will cook through rapidly, and other parts are thick and require a much longer time to cook. This makes it easy to have overcooked and undercooked areas. They are also a little unforgiving in soup if overcooked, as they tend to become tough or stringy in texture.

Normally, chicken would be pre-cooked via another method, and then cut up or shredded, and placed in the soup in the last few minutes in order to heat through for service. My favorite method of preparing chicken to use in soup or other recipes is to roast it, still skin on for flavor, but any method will do. The skin can be removed prior to adding the chicken to the soup, if you desire.

Note that this method will not add the flavor and gelatin (for that rich texture) from the bones to your soup. Instead, as cook chicken parts for other dishes, save the bones and other scraps in the freezer. When you have several pounds (a couple kilograms), you can use them to make chicken stock. Homemade chicken broth is a fantastic base for soup, and will help you achieve an excellent flavor.

If you absolutely want to cook chicken breast directly in your soup, I recommend that you de-bone it. Cut it into bite sized pieces. As one of the last finishing steps in preparing the soup, reduce the pot to a simmer rather than a full boil, and drop in the chicken pieces. This will permit the chicken pieces to poach gently in the broth. Your soup is ready for service. once they are cooked through—my guess is about 15 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces, but check them occasionally.

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Best would be to cook the chicken using sous vide separately and only add it after the cooking/boiling of the soup.

If that is not possible, your should consider the following:

  • Try to make the chicken pieces the same size.
  • Start cooking the biggest pieces first so that they can cook longer.
  • Reduce the heat and cook longer, this will make the difference between over cooked and under cooked less.
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I don't think this poster is enough of a cooking nerd to be doing sous vide. –  slim Feb 4 '13 at 11:51
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You don't mention the other ingredients, but assuming that they are vegetables, potatoes, etc., they will cook in much less time than the chicken.

You could try cooking the chicken first, and then adding the other ingredients.

Or you could try preparing the chicken in other ways, in a separate pan: for example, you could use smaller pieces of the chicken and fry them, and afterwards add it to the main cooking (in your case, a soup).

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