I’ve been buying precooked chicken at about $4/lb. The food cost on this item is killing me as my chicken pizzas have become very popular. I’m contemplating cooking the chicken myself which I think I can realistically cut the food cost in half.
The problem is is that I’m not sure what the best way to go about cooking the chicken in house. I don’t like the idea of cooking it in my oven as I only have a type II hood w/o grease traps. The only other equipment that I think will do it ok is my boiler that I use to cook pasta in.
We use precooked mesquite grilled brea** (darn electronic censor will not allow me to mention this body part of a chicken… now that is silly!) that costs $5.40 a pound. We charge it out as a double price item (along with several others) so the food cost is OK, about the same as good pepperoni.
I don’t have an answer for you as far as how to cook it. Simply because I don’t know what the chicken you’re currently getting tastes like. But perhaps the answer lies somewhere in my upcoming comment.
You said that your chicken pizzas are becoming more popular. A concern of mine would be making sure that the chicken tastes the same as the pre-cooked you get.
The last thing you want to do is turn the people that like the chicken pizzas off.
For example, the pre-cooked chicken we get is considered at ‘southwest chicken’. So if we were to switch to fresh we’d be certain that we cook it in a manor that will mimic the pre-cooked to ensure product consistency for our customers.
If I were you, since people obviously like your chicken pizzas I’d leave them just the way they are and if the cost is killing you then mark the price up to cover it.
O.K. here is my trick. It is a very top secret way to have juicy chicken EVERY TIME!
If you have a range, drop a pan on the flame sear off the breasts 4 min or so till nice cooler. Put it in at 400* for 12-15 min and let it rest. Guaranteed to be done and juicy. I have never undercooked or served dry chicken this way.
I have done this in a wood fired oven and it does tend to cook quite a bit faster so you just have to pay attention. Just mark the time and the cooking zone you used to be able to replicate.
I’m using a grill-marked precooked, and happy with it. Similar cost, but I’m fine with it getting more popular at that cost. it’s the labor of cutting the “boobies” into the size and shape we use as a topping that’s a pain. But we do that here - LOTS of manual prep work.
Anyway - 2 comments:
a) The self-contained grill is actually a very interesting idea! You could SELL the fact that you’re Foreman-grilling your own chicken, etc.
b) You may save a little money per lb. on the chicken - but will experience labor cost in prep, and you will take on the hassle/risk of handling uncooked chicken. In my book, avoiding uncooked chicken is worth a fair amount of $ (we don’t sell chicken dishes - ALL I have chicken for is as a pizza topping).
I pick up boneless breasts at Costco at $2.69 a pound and cook them in my deck oven @ 425 for 25 minutes. Just make sure that you prepare them so they taste the same as the pre cooked you’re currently using. For mine, I just cut them into strips, bread, & bake.
Another thing to be extra careful with is food safety. I always do it before opening, and make sure to bleach the sh*t out of the table I prepped on, along with all the boards & utensils I used. Just thought I ought to mention that, since a lot of operators don’t work much with raw meats anymore.
Are you saying the only other means of preparing the chicken is boiling it? No char, fryer or grill? If so, I think boiling is an option as long as you have it prepped correctly and flavored after boiling. I agree, at that price, you should cooking it at the shop. I think it will be better, too.
NOOOOO! No boiling. Sorry, felt like being overly dramatic.
Poaching is what you want to do with the chicken. Rapid cooking with toughen the proteins quickly, and not nearly so tender as simmering/poaching. Make a very flavorful poaching medium (classically called a court boullion). Simmer slowly as close to 185F as possible, or lower. 140F is great, but hard to hold. Flavor it strongly, and you can find lots of poaching liquid ideas online with a search engine. Sky’s the limit once you have the basics down. Season again after cooking, and dice it up…