By Cat, Nov 2011 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
I like to keep some cooked chicken, frozen, on hand for when I need to put a quick meal together, such as a soup or salad with chicken, chicken tacos, etc.. That is the intent of this recipe.
Baked Chicken Pieces, for Shredding or Cubing
Serves 4 – 8. You can use boneless chicken pieces if you wish, but I like to cook the pieces with the bone in for the flavor and nutrients the bone adds to the cooked meat. Then I remove the bone after cooking. Additionally, it is much easier to remove meat from the bone after the meat is cooked than when it is still raw.
Similarly, I prefer to leave the skin on during baking, then remove it after it is cooked. The skin helps to keep the meat moist and adds flavor to the meat.
Of course, you can buy boneless meat at the grocer, but then you don’t know how that chicken was fed and treated. It may have come from a CAFO. I prefer to buy whole birds from a local grower so I know how the bird was raised.
You can use all dark or all white meat, or a mix, depending on the final recipe.
If using a whole or cut up chicken, reserve bony pieces (backs, necks, wings) for making bone broth.
Ingredients & Equipment:
- Meaty pieces (thigh, drumstick, breasts) from one whole or cut up chicken. You can also use 8 – 10 chicken thighs or 4 breast halves with bone, purchased separately.
- 1 Tbsp melted butter
- Unrefined sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
- Baking pan
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- If using chicken breasts, it is best to brine them first; this helps them to retain moisture. Refer to How to Brine Chicken for instructions.
- Do not remove skin from the chicken (chicken fat helps keep the chicken moist while baking, and then is removed from the meat after baking).
- Place chicken pieces in pan, skin-side up. Brush chicken pieces with melted butter, and lightly season them with salt and pepper (skip the salt if the pieces are brined). If using only white meat, you might add a bit of chicken broth to the pan, about ¼ inch deep.
- Bake 2 hours or until very tender, falling from bones. Remove from oven.
- Drain off the accumulated fatty liquid (you can reserve for adding to chicken bone broth for other use), and allow chicken pieces to cool enough to handle. Remove skin and bones. I like to cut up the skin to mix in with the meat. At this point, you can cover and chill up to 24 hours before using, wrap it for the freezer, or keep warm for immediate serving.