Freezer Burnt Chicken Breasts Rescue – Shredded Mexican

Video how to cook freezer burned chicken

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  • 🐓Ingredients
  • 👨‍🍳How to Cook Freezer Burnt Chicken
  • ✔️How to use rescued chicken
  • What is freezer burn?
  • Is it safe to eat freezer-burned chicken or other foods?
  • How to revive freezer-burned chicken
  • ❓FAQs
  • 📖 Recipe

I found a bag of those wholesale club chicken breasts in the back of the garage refrigerator freezer we replaced last week. So, this poor meat is dehydrated, tough, and tasteless. In other words, it is already a hockey puck. Time to fix it.

The process has two steps. First, rehydrate and add some flavor with chicken broth, onion, and garlic. Followed by hand shredding to eliminate waste and add more flavor with tomato sauce and spice.

You may use this rescued freezer burnt chicken in any recipe that uses rotisserie or shredded chicken. I recommend Mexican and added those flavors in the second step of the recipe.

✔️How to use rescued chicken

I prefer to use it for Mexican, where any “off taste” is covered by the spices. Check out these recipes, like Healthy Chicken Enchilada Casserole, Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas, or Traditional Chicken Enchilada Casserole.

The texture and taste are slightly off, but most people won’t notice, especially if it is covered with cheese, great sauces, and flavors—a great way to hide those mild shortfalls.

Look for recipes that allow precooked rotisserie chicken to be added late in cooking, have a robust and flavorful sauce, and cheese is a big plus. They will never know it was freezer burnt chicken.

What is freezer burn?

Freezer burn is just dehydration of meat or other foods. In meat, it is caused by the water in the meat cells freezing and forming ice crystals that damage the cells. The water molecules can then escape the cells. With the water escaping, the taste also goes, and the texture changes. If the package is intact, you will probably see ice crystals in the package.

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But even foods without cells, like ice cream, get some ice crystals for the same effect. It may or may not be due to poor storage.

No-frost freezers tend to have more of an issue with freezer burning due to the small temperature changes, which is how they are “no-frost.” And the longer the period of time in the freeze, the more likely to have freezer burn.

Is it safe to eat freezer-burned chicken or other foods?

Yes. It is safe to eat freezer-burned food. It is dehydrated, not spoiled. But with the water leaving the cells, the texture and flavor deteriorated rapidly.

Since it is safe, can we rescue it by adding moisture, texture, and taste? We can add moisture, but the taste and texture will be slightly “off.” We want to cover that up—an ideal job for Mexican food where we can use shredded chicken for burritos and enchiladas, with lots of flavorful sauce and cheese. On to the rescue,

How to revive freezer-burned chicken

Just cutting off the freezer burn may be acceptable if it is small. But the damage is usually deeper, and most cooking methods will pull water out of the cells. So, just cooking normally rarely gives good results.

Brining the chicken can help rehydrate the meat, and you can add some flavors to cover for the lack of flavor and occasional “off” taste. Brining is passive; if you have more than a little problem, it won’t do much.

The meat with significant damage should be discarded, or we can rescue most of it by braising it. If you are unfamiliar with braising, it is heating the meat slowly in liquid in a sealed container to prevent evaporation. So, it’s similar to simmering but covered.

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📖 Recipe

Originally published July 19, 2010. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>