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I fried the chicken breast in the oil till its surface was brown and then I pressure cooked it. The result was hard chicken. I found it quite difficult to chew.

What should I do next time to make it utterly soft?

  • Some details would be nice. What recipe are you following? – ElendilTheTall Sep 8 '14 at 13:46
  • sorry, no recipe - my mother told me to do so, so I did it. @ElendilTheTall – Aquarius_Girl Sep 8 '14 at 13:47
  • Ok. How long did you fry the chicken for? How long did you then cook it in the pressure cooker for? What cut was it? – ElendilTheTall Sep 8 '14 at 13:50
  • @ElendilTheTall I said I fried it till its skin was dark brown from outside. didn't calculate the time. In pressure cooker - I counted till 4 whistles. It was the breast part of the chicken. What do you mean by "what cut it was"? Thanks. – Aquarius_Girl Sep 8 '14 at 13:53
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    Are you trying to replicate a "broasted" chicken, where the chicken is fried in oil under pressure? That's very different than cooking once in oil and then again under pressure. – logophobe Sep 8 '14 at 14:32
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Frying the chicken tends to set the muscle fibers by drawing moisture out. An example of this would be taking a thin (1cm) cutlet and frying it until both sides start to turn golden. It will be pretty dry and hard.

Pressure cooking it on the other hand tends to soften the muscle fibers without drawing moisture in (if anything, its putting moisture in).

So, ideally, you should boil/pressure cook your chicken prior to frying in oil (though do make sure to drain the chicken first to prevent splatters!). Additionally, you should undercook the chicken slightly in the pressure cooker since you'll be finishing it in the fryer.

If you are broasting the chicken, then you are going about the recipe incorrectly by frying then pressure cooking it. When broasting, you should pressure fry - if that makes sense.

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    Important note: most pressure cookers explicitly suggest not using them for broasting given the quantity and temperature of the oil involved. Attempting to do this at home could be extremely hazardous. – logophobe Sep 8 '14 at 20:11
  • @logophobe Good point. – jsanc623 Sep 8 '14 at 20:57
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Breast is lean muscle. Add a ton of heat to it and it'll seize up into a dense brick that nobody wants to eat. In that vein, I'm not sure I'd put chicken breast anywhere near a pressure cooker because that's a really great way to get something to 120°C.

That's about twice what you want. Ideally we want chicken to hit 63.5°C and stay there for a bit. Here's how I'd suggest cooking the perfect chicken breast.

  1. Brine them for at least 4 hours. This adds salt and allows you to infuse spice. It's not great for your health but will help the meat retain water during cooking. Seriously though, there's no going back after you get used to brined meat.
  2. Slow poach (takes practise) or vacuum-pack and sous vide ~63.5°C for 2 hours
  3. Finish in the fires of Mount Doom (fry, bbq, grill or blow torch).

Yeah, that does mean your turnaround time can be 7 hours... But the brining can be done ahead of time (freeze them vacuum-packed in servings) and it delivers restaurant quality chicken every time. It's worth it, even if you have to build your own sous vide (it's quite easy and cheap — that's my tutorial on my blog).

And while I'd suggest doing all three steps, you can pick and choose as it suits you. Slow over-roast, brined chicken is still delicious, just as sous-viding without the brining or hellfire (for salads, etc).

  • FYI I just read that Chic-fil-a uses a pressure cooker and their sandwiches are pretty good. – user1477388 Sep 8 '14 at 20:19
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    I wouldn't dare say you couldn't cook chicken well in in a pressure cooker, just that it's an awful way for consistency as your margins equate to seconds. But Chic-fil-a actually use pressure fryers. Similar concept, different results. And no, please don't fill a domestic pressure cooker with oil. – Oli Sep 8 '14 at 20:36
  • Just as an aside, I typically brine my chicken overnight in the fridge - much better than just brining for a few hours as it tends to really plump up chicken. – jsanc623 Sep 9 '14 at 14:35
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    @jsanc623 Completely agree. Anything under 4 hours is a waste of time. I actually posted an answer earlier today that said practically the same thing so I've edited it up. – Oli Sep 9 '14 at 14:38
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Pressure cook first until 'almost' done. Let it cool. Pat dry well. Then batter and fry.

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