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There's one adapted recipe I like a lot, but I've been struggling with how to make it scale better so I can double the recipe to make more leftovers/feed more people. The basic technique is to cook chicken breast tenders uncovered over medium/medium-high heat in oil and balsamic vinegar (and dry spices), adding some apricot preserves about halfway through. So in the end you end up reducing the sauce into an balsamic apricot glaze/sauce, and the chicken having marinated the whole time in the sauce imparting flavor on the chicken compared to making the sauce in a saucepan and adding after the chicken is cooked.

But in order for the chicken to cook evenly and well, the chicken needs to be laid out in a single layer in the pan, which is a bit of a limiting factor in how much chicken I can fit in the largest pan we own. Short of just making it in multiple batches, are there ways I could modify the preparation technique to come up with fairly similar tasting chicken, but in a way that I could scale the quantities larger? Would baking the chicken in the marinade achieve a similar result? Cook the sauce first, and pour over the raw chicken that's not in a single layer in a pan with the lid on? Something else?

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4 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I'd try it once in the oven, and see how it comes out, and adjust from there.

A few considerations :

  • the oven itself is a closed system; this means that liquids aren't going to evaporate as quickly, and the sauce won't reduce the same.
  • ovens cook from all directions, so the chicken will cook from the top without requiring turning. (sometimes good, but might throw off your cooking time in this case.)

If it were me, I'd likely try a pan in the lowest rack of the oven, with a sheet tray or sheet of heavy aluminium foil on a rack above it to help shield from radiant heat. You might also need to crack the oven door slightly. If the recipe calls for browning the chicken before adding the glaze, I might do that in the pan first, or use the oven broiler, depending on how large of a batch we're talking about.

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so perhaps cooking the liquids in a saucepan to partially reduce them before putting in the oven would help the finished consistency of the sauce if I cook it in the oven? –  Jessica Brown Jun 5 '13 at 15:34
    
@Jessica : Yes, but I'd be inclined to try reducing after cooking, so the liquid penetrates further. You might also try a pre-marinade, but you need to then either change the sauce, or boil it for sufficient time as it's been next to raw meat. –  Joe Jun 5 '13 at 16:34
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Short answer, no. If you're going to saute something in a pan it's going to have a different flavor than if you were to bake it in the oven (and you don't get the same reduction effect that you'll get by using a pan over a medium-high heat). that said, there's nothing that says you can't bake it, it just won't taste exactly the same, and will be thinner. If you want identical results, you need an identical process. You could always put another pan on the stove

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Can you adapt the recipe to go in the oven instead of on the hob? If so, you could use big roasting tins (bigger than any pan), and as many of them as your oven will hold.

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Cook the chicken in bite size pieces. This is how I've gotten the best result for larger scale saute dishes. You will need to use multiple pans or batches to increase after this. You can deglaze and create the sauce after each batch.

I have not had good luck with cooking chicken breast in the oven, I would try a few attempts on the stove top before going to the oven.

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