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I've got several recipes that call for shredded chicken, so any help would be appreciated.

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2 Answers 2

I keep both shredded/chopped chicken and pork in my freezer as kind of a "staple". For both, I tend to use the crock pot.

The easiest way (but certainly not the cheapest) is to toss boneless, skinless chicken breasts into the crock pot with a flavorful liquid. I tend to use most of my shredded meats in things with either a Southwest/TexMex or BBQ bent to them, so I often will use beer for the liquid and toss in some chili powder/onion powder/garlic powder or one of those taco seasoning packets.

If you're looking for more wide-ranging purposes, you may want to go with something more like chicken broth as your liquid. In that case, I'd also avoid seasoning it all that much as the destination dish might clash with or, for instance, if you add salt, might result in WAY too much salt in the final dish.

I usually fill the crock pot all the way with chicken and about half way with liquid.

Set the crock pot on low and let it cook all day until the meat is completely cooked and tender. I only make it this way when I can be around all day or at least can check in half way through the day because you want to "rotate" which meat is sitting in the liquid at least once in the process.

To shred, pull out the chicken and, using 2 forks, pull apart the fibers of the meat.

To chop, just toss it on a cutting board and cut into tiny bits.

I usually take the results and put them in a large bowl. Then, using a turkey baster, I add some of the liquid from the crock pot back into the shredded meat. You'll be surprised how much liquid it absorbs without getting "drippy".

I freeze mine in 1 pound portions in vacuum sealed bags and it works great.

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Faster than the Crockpot, you can poach chicken breasts in water, broth, or some other flavored liquid. Shred or chop once they're cooked (about 20 mins if memory serves). This leaves the chicken a little bland though. It's ok if it goes in a flavorful sauce which it so often does but not on top of a salad. If you want to use thighs, you can cut it in to thin strips first and then sauté. This gets the same effect as shredded and is how I do chicken for enchiladas.

However, the Crockpot sounds like a great option if you have all day to tend it.

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I do this as well, and depending on the recipe, will add other things to the broth, like an onion cut in half (don't have to chop it), some bay leaf, rosemary, etc. –  Nick Aug 6 '10 at 15:35
    
The absolute key is to make sure you remove the chicken once it reaches an internal temperature around 160F. I use one of those temp probes that uses a long wire to a readout. This works great for roasting as well. If you don't overcook, it won't be dried out and nasty. –  Rake36 Aug 6 '10 at 16:37
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20 minutes of actual poaching will give you very dry meat. Here's a gentler method: Boil your broth, add breasts, return to simmer, cover, turn off heat, and let sit 15 minutes. The breasts will reach 160F from fridge temp, but not overcook. +1 to a thermometer. –  Rich Armstrong Aug 6 '10 at 19:51
    
And for those that are really lazy (like me), a varient on Rich's suggestion -- turn the stove to warm (or whatever it's lowest is) after slapping on the lid, and you can come back an hour, or even three hours later, without worry ... ideally, you get the liquid to 160F, and you can poach it forever. –  Joe May 22 '11 at 21:02
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