A slow cooker can be a harried mom's lifesaver, busily simmering or cooking dinner while life goes on in other directions. Get the kids involved in making dinner -- for instance, guiding them through rinsing and tearing the lettuce and choosing the creamy dressing for the salad -- while the slow cooker takes care of the rest. Chicken breasts can become tough and dry during some methods of cooking, but a slow cooker can turn out tender and succulent chicken breasts because of the low heat and moist cooking atmosphere.
Cooking chicken breasts in a slow cooker will result in tender meat as long as you cook the meat correctly. Always use thawed chicken breasts -- never frozen chicken -- because the thawing poultry may develop harmful bacteria at low temperatures and it may not cook evenly. Both bone-in and boneless chicken breasts are suitable choices for slow cooking. Remove the skin and trim away visible fat before cooking the poultry. Season the chicken breasts by rubbing them with herbs and spices such as tarragon, oregano, dill or sage or a seasoning mix. Try splashing a zesty, creamy salad dressing over the chicken to give it tasty flavors.
Use chicken broth, spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce or even plain water as suitable liquid for cooking chicken breasts in a slow cooker. The key to tender chicken breasts in a slow cooker involves adding enough liquid to create a moist cooking environment. Spread the chicken breasts out in an even layer and add enough liquid to almost cover the meat.
If you are adapting a conventional chicken breast recipe, use one that includes enough liquid or add extra liquid. If the conventional recipe has a 45-minute cooking time, cook the chicken breasts on high for three to four hours or on low for six to eight hours. If the recipe has a one-hour cooking time, cook the chicken on high for four to five hours or on low for eight to 10 hours. Generally, cooking recipes on low takes twice as long as cooking recipes on high.
Before serving the chicken breasts, check the internal temperature of the meat with a food thermometer to make sure they're finished cooking. The Food Safety Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking poultry to a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit or you may risk food-borne illness. Kids can be especially susceptible to food poisoning if they eat undercooked poultry.
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