Why I Hate Chicken Breast

A whole roasted chicken is amazing

A whole roasted chicken is amazing

Someone told you once that chicken was good for you, especially the white meat – and that evil chicken skin was bad – so you have been living off chicken breast as a protein for the last few years and your mouth finally dialed my 911 number and asked for an intervention. Chicken breast – it is tasteless without skin and bones, it is often overcooked, and it is not as “healthy” as you think.
But I love chicken.  The smells of  a whole roasted chicken makes my house and heart happy. My favorite way these days is splatchcock style as above, or on my 1957 rotisserie.  In the case of those, the breast is a part of a whole- it is in context, it is a blank canvas upon which you can layer lovely flavors.
But a boneless, skinless chicken breast is tasteless. None. It is bland, it is lifeless, it is the favorite of dieters since the ancient myths about this lean protein being healthy.
Here it is – the naked chicken breast – with a herb satchel.
 
Chicken Breast Is It Low In Fat – must be compared to steak
Oh, but this is good – you hear the chorus say. It is a “diet” food.  This is a 5 ounce chicken breast, it has about 250 calories in it. About 30 grams of protein, 4 grams of the evil saturated fat, and etc.
Oh that red meat you eschew? A similar piece of New York Strip (one of my favorite cuts) is also about 250 calories. About 42 grams of protein, and 2.8 grams of the evil saturated fat. What? Yes, you read that correctly.
It is Too Easy To Overcook
People overcook the chicken breast all the time.  The instructions of many recipes are set to an internal temperature of about 165 degrees Fahrenheit – which means all of the moisture will be gone – the chicken will be dry. It doesn’t matter what sauce you put around it- when you have dry chicken it is like eating a ball of rubber bands.
I pity the party of the man who is showing his culinary skills at the grill with a chicken breast. This would turn anyone into a vegetarian
You think putting this breast in a crock pot with slow cooking at a low temperature will be a good thing?  Nothing worse than crock pot chicken breast — the lowest temperature on most crock pots is about 177 degrees Fahrenheit – again, over cooked.  So the chicken will be surrounded by juice of itself and be dry and overcooked. The best way to cook this protein is Sous Vide – otherwise you sacrificed the life of a chicken for naught.
Airlines always overcook the chicken – always. It is always chicken breast – and in spite of them saying that food tastes differently at higher altitudes with loud music one thing is certain – the chicken will be overcooked – and tasteless.
Speaking of the steak – ever wonder why a steak is more moist than a chicken? Medium rare is 132-134 degrees Fahrenheit – so the steak is still moist.  All you need is that sear on it, the Maillard reaction, and you have a great bit of food.
It has no flavor
Pretty sure that cardboard has a more interesting flavor and texture than chicken breast. Seriously – grill a plain chicken breast and eat it. Kind of dull. Make it interesting- surround it with other flavors and the chicken is just a dull protein that won’t ruin the spark of the other flavors. Chicken Marsala – well,  if you make a rich marsala with great mushrooms, stock, and wonderful wine the sauce will not be overwhelmed with the flavor of the chicken breast (don’t buy the cheap wine, this is food, if you eat cheap food you are missing out).
Pick any chicken breast dish – any – tell me how the chicken flavor added to it.
Boneless – Skinless – oh you just tossed the best part
Try this- cook the skin separately on a baking sheet with some poultry spice and salt. It crisps up nicely like bacon – and is delicious. Then cook the chicken breast with the bones – oh there is flavor there, and it comes out- a rich flavor, a flavor of savory chicken that was lost when someone convinced you to pay a bit extra not to have the bone.
But the Thigh
Ok, maybe I am a leg man more than a breast man – but the thigh has flavor, and texture.  Ever wonder why wings taste so good — (hint, it isn’t the blue cheese — seriously, some people put that on wings – of course some people still choose margarine).
 
Do Yourself A Favor
Stop buying chicken breasts and thinking you are eating healthy. You want a great chicken – roast one properly, and then you can use the pan gravy from the stock and the drippings to make that breast stand out.
Don’t buy it skinless and boneless. Don’t just grill it. Don’t put it in a crock pot. 
Stop the insanity.
Chicken breast – it ranks with fillet and pork loin as flavorless proteins.  I think Tofu is cheaper, and probably tastier.

Dr. Terry Simpson About Dr. Terry Simpson
Dr. Terry Simpson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago where he spent several years in the Kovler Viral Oncology laboratories doing genetic engineering. He found he liked people more than petri dishes, and received his MD. Dr. Simpson, then became a renowned weight loss surgeon, and a leading advocate of culinary medicine. The first surgeon to become certified in Culinary Medicine, he advocates teaching people to improve their health through their food. On the other side of the world, he has been a leading advocate of changing health care to make it more "relationship based," and his efforts awarded his team the Malcom Baldrige award for healthcare in 2011 for the NUKA system of care in Alaska. A frequent contributor to media outlets discussing health related topics and advances in medicine, he is also a proud dad, husband, author, cook, and surgeon “in that order.” For media inquiries, please visit www.terrysimpson.com.

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