Chicken Breast for 200

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Joined Feb 26, 2015
I apologize if this is a repeated question. I did look through other posts, and found some of what I needed, but not everything.

I am catering a wedding for 200. No big deal, but the kitchen I have access to for the event only has one oven. One of the dishes includes chicken breast over pasta.

I know the amounts I need, I am concerned about cooking that quantity of chicken.

Is there a quality way to cook the chicken (boneless, skinless) the night before, cool it down, and then reheat it to stay warm in chafers for the event. I do have a number of chafers to keep in the kitchen during the event. I know I need to cook it all the way through the first time.

Thank you for the help! Please let me know if I need to provide more information.
 
1,483
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Joined Jan 31, 2012
Ok only one oven, but how much time do you have
available to cook the breasts? And is it one breast
per dish?

Though you can precook day before and reheat,
trouble is boneless skinless breasts tend to dry
out while reheating in the oven--theres just not
much moisture or fat to keep them moist.

Ideally, you cook em all the day of the event....
if you have 2 large ovens, great--one batch.
If not, more batches, and more time.
As they come out they go into thermal boxes,
or if close to serving time, into heated chaffers.
 
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2,180
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Joined Oct 31, 2012
Meez. You beat me to it by one minute. I'm wondering the same thing. One breast per person?  If so, how big is each breast?

Does it have to be a whole breast? What about sauce? 

Can you describe the dish in more detail?
 
1,483
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Joined Jan 31, 2012
Yes CW, I was wondering about sauce as well, but
was assuming that a breast over pasta would have
sauce either added atop as a final, or
between the pasta and the breast, but
either way, chicken baked without it.
But not necessarily, so that's a good question as well.
 
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4,474
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Joined Jun 27, 2012
SB chx breast can be the death of an event.... lotta jokes based on the rubber banquet chicken.
The best way to avoid the trap is to cook as close to service as you can and hold in a manner that won't allow all the moisture to be sucked up into the atmosphere.
I would skip the oven entirely and go to the stove top for a short "braise" (tastes better anyways) then hold in the liquid.
No room on the top?
Rent a butane setup.
If the potential color is disturbing then sauce and garnish when plating.
Camouflage lol.

mimi
 
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Joined Feb 26, 2015
Thank you for all the input so far!

The coordinator has asked for 6 oz (raw) per person, and for each breast to be cut in half and shingled on top of the pasta. For 200 people, that is 75# of chicken! The average breast is about 10 oz, so that is 120 cx breast.

There is a six burner stove, as well as a flat top.

The sauce will either be marsala or picatta. Which ever will be cheaper and easier. 

If you hadn't guessed already, this is a very cheap event.

I can get into the venue four or five hours before service. There will be four chafers on the buffet (a two sided buffet, two chafers per side for the chicken entree), and two chafers in the kitchen for warming. I have additional chafers, but they will be for the side dish.

Someone (not on this forum) suggested to keep the chicken warm in broth. But wouldn't further poaching result in an even drier result?

Thank you thank you!!
 
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Joined Aug 21, 2004
I would sear the chicken off, both sides, but only cooked about 25%, the day before the event. Sheet pan, cool, put in walk in, when chilled wrap with cellophane. The day of event, as service time gets close, unwrap and finish in oven. Shingle in hotel pans and drizzle with just enough chicken stock to moisten the bottom of the hotel pan. Wrap pan with cellophane, then aluminum foil, then into cambros. At service time, pull out of cambros as needed and sauce, then into chafers.
 
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Joined Feb 26, 2015
Cheflayne, thank you for the advice!

This is probably an ignorant question, but is it safe to cook chicken partially the first time? I have always been told to cook chicken all the way through the first time. 
 
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Joined May 5, 2010
 
Thank you for all the input so far!

The coordinator has asked for 6 oz (raw) per person, and for each breast to be cut in half and shingled on top of the pasta. For 200 people, that is 75# of chicken! The average breast is about 10 oz, so that is 120 cx breast.

There is a six burner stove, as well as a flat top.

The sauce will either be marsala or picatta. Which ever will be cheaper and easier. 

If you hadn't guessed already, this is a very cheap event.

I can get into the venue four or five hours before service. There will be four chafers on the buffet (a two sided buffet, two chafers per side for the chicken entree), and two chafers in the kitchen for warming. I have additional chafers, but they will be for the side dish.

Someone (not on this forum) suggested to keep the chicken warm in broth. But wouldn't further poaching result in an even drier result?

Thank you thank you!!
Erin, when you first approached us with your initial question, you did not divulge all the information.

So in the above quote you now say that there is a 6 burner stove and a flat top.

Now you have a place to sear off your breasts right at the venue.You also have a place to make the sauce as well as keeping the food hot while plating.

This all sounds like a carefully executed function that can be done right at the place.

Why pre-cook the chicken?
 
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Joined Feb 26, 2015
 
Erin, when you first approached us with your initial question, you did not divulge all the information.

So in the above quote you now say that there is a 6 burner stove and a flat top.

Now you have a place to sear off your breasts right at the venue.You also have a place to make the sauce as well as keeping the food hot while plating.

This all sounds like a carefully executed function that can be done right at the place.

Why pre-cook the chicken?
I am concerned about how long it is going to take to cook that much chicken. There is only one oven, which I also need for roasting cut potatoes.

How far in advance could I finish the chicken and have it keeping warm in chafers, while the potatoes cook?
 
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Joined Feb 26, 2015
 
How big is the flat top? How long do anticipate it will take to cook the potatoes?
If I remember correctly (I have only been at the facility one other time), the flat top is about 3'x3'.

Each tray of potatoes will take 45 min. I can roast a tray at a time with the potatoes in a single layer. I will need 40 pounds of potatoes. I don't believe the oven is large enough for a full sheet tray, so I am going to plan on half sheets for now.  
 
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I dont temember seeing above any info on how many cx breasts this
oven will hold at once. I would do the chicken first, plan on about 60 mins
at 350 F. You can hold them in broth, not a lot of broth, with a cover
at around 140F. Which isnt cooking temp.
Personally I would transfer from oven directly to Cambros,
and theyll hold there fine for at least a couple hours.
2nd choice would be chaffers, with only ONE sterno burning.
Also personally, since you have a flattop, Id use it for the potatoes.
You can hasten softening with steam, depending on style, then to the
flattie.
If you have 4 to 5 hours at your disposal, for 200 people this
is defintely doable given the onhand equipment.
 
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Joined Feb 26, 2015
 
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I dont temember seeing above any info on how many cx breasts this
oven will hold at once. I would do the chicken first, plan on about 60 mins
at 350 F. You can hold them in broth, not a lot of broth, with a cover
at around 140F. Which isnt cooking temp.
Personally I would transfer from oven directly to Cambros,
and theyll hold there fine for at least a couple hours.
2nd choice would be chaffers, with only ONE sterno burning.
Also personally, since you have a flattop, Id use it for the potatoes.
You can hasten softening with steam, depending on style, then to the
flattie.
If you have 4 to 5 hours at your disposal, for 200 people this
is defintely doable given the onhand equipment.
Thank you!! This is so helpful!

I don't know how many cx breast the oven will hold for sure. Would you suggest pounding them first? They will be cut in half for presentation on top of the pasta.
 
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Joined Oct 31, 2012
I'll jump back in.  Don't pound the chicken breasts. Please don't. 

I may have missed it but I still don't understand the dish. Why a 

whole piece of chicken on top of pasta?  If handed a plate of pasta, I would expect the dish to be fork ready. A piece of chicken

will need to be cut. The pasta will not need to be cut. 

If you are planning to cut the breast after cooking, why not cut it in half on the bias before cooking? Then each piece retains 

some individual character, rather than looking like a piece of cooked chicken cut in half. 

Or cut in to large dice before cooking. . Then it's ready to eat. 

I think I'm missing something. 
 
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Joined Jan 31, 2012
@CW...It sounds like the client is going for visial appeal
on the dish, shingling 2 halves atop a mound of pasta,
without really having thought out the practical EATING
part . I was under the impression from above that the
breast was to be halved BEFORE cooking, not after.
I agree with you here CW, better to have two individ
cooked, thin breasts than to cook and cut hot
breasts prior to serving. One drawback of course
being that the chicken will then take up twice as
much room in the oven.
Another method would be to butterfly em lenthwise,
cookthen steeple em over the pasta cut side down, then
sauce.
Also brings to mind the method of serving....you mentioned
buffet... so theyre lining up, and presenting their plate of
pasta, and the station server piles two breast half-halves
on top,then sauces it?
 
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Joined May 5, 2010
Erin......you still insist on using the oven for the chicken breasts. WHY???

The client wants a 6 ox, breast cut in half and shingled on top of the pasta.

The you wrote you have 10 ounce breasts.

Chefwriter commented on NOT pounding them, however this would be a good thing to do.

You have 3'X3' grill.

You can cook the potatoes in the oven but do the breasts on the grill, under cooking them, then place them in a chaffer until service.
 
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  Chefross,  Every time I've eaten pounded chicken breasts as a customer, they've been tough and dry. Maybe I'm not eating pounded chicken breasts in

the right restaurants ($$) but still. Wouldn't pounding shorten the cooking time? Maybe the cooks didn't know that and over cooked them. Or they just beat the hell 

out of them. So maybe just a gentle beating would be enough. Just to improve morale a bit.

  Meezenplaz- the breasts cut prior to cooking might take up a little more room but I don't think twice as much. You'd only be separating them slightly more than they 

would have been whole. Of course, I may have to experiment now for my next home cooked meal. Perhaps I'll do a citrus chicken two ways for this months' challenge

Lemon Chicken on Angel Hair. I'll have pictures.

Ok, Erin, Back to you. 
 
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1,483
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Joined Jan 31, 2012
@CW...Meh, funny I thought of doingv the same thing--chicken
two ways, then qualifying them with a citrus sauce. lol

When commenting on them taking double space, I was referring
to splitting and pounding them to a half inch., or butterflying.
Either way, theyd cook pretty fast.
Ive pounded hundreds of BSCBreasts for various
reasons, and always pound to a half inch for my cordon bleu.
Theyre rarely dry or rubbery. However it is as you mentioned,
easy to over cook em--theyre THIN. Marinading helps, yet it's
not essential either.

Now, I have found theres an ongoing paranoia about cooking
both chicken and pork, even today. A constant fear of undercooking
and harming people. So the tendency is to cook the shist out of em.
And with lean pork and BSCB's that equals dry as a bone, and devoid
of flavor as we know it. I would well wager this is what the
restaurants you visited did with yours. Ive experienced it as well.
 
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