Need advice from a banquet chef- chicken for 200!

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by airforks, Jun 8, 2011.

  1. airforks

    airforks

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    Hello everyone! I've recently been assigned to head up an Air National Guard kitchen that has had some disruptions in personnel. What has resulted is that the kitchen lacks "accumulated wisdom," and food quality has suffered. AF services school is pretty light on practical instruction, so I'm looking for some advice from the internet.

    We serve 350+ airmen lunch from a 6-well steam table (cafeteria style) in about 1.5 hours. When I arrived, they were cooking 100% of the food by 9 or 930am, and hot holding it until meal time at 11am. Food quality sucked.

    We've already started working on introducing progressive cooking, and improved vegetables and starches, and now I'm working on entrees.

    First up, does anyone have advice/tips/tricks on how to prepare 200 servings of boneless,skinless chicken breast so that it doesn't end up dry and terrible by the time we serve it? I was at a charity banquet last month, and the kitchen there turned out chicken for 400+ and it was fantastic, so I'm thinking a banquet chef might have some particular insight to this problem?

    Any help is appreciated- thank you!
     
  2. greg

    greg

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    This method can be done one day ahead: Sear the chicken breasts off first (you can use a grill, griddle or tilt skillet for that) but don't fully cook it. Lay the chicken out on sheet pans and chill it down. Line it up in whatever pan it will go onto the well in and fire it as needed or fire it on the sheet pans and pan up after; whichever works best for you. Sauce it if there's a sauce, garnish if there's a garnish and send it.
     
  3. thetincook

    thetincook

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    Brine it too.
     
  4. chefedb

    chefedb

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    I agree with Greg except don't do it day before. There is no reason for that  for only 200 guest.  Do the same day and don't refrigerate. Sear place on 1/2 sheet pans or full depending on the volume you need . 20 minutes before service start putting the sheets in oven for finishing some time we add a drop of stock on pan and cover with foil. Put in steam table with a little stock in the pan so they don't dry out .Put in steamtable as close to sevice time  as possible.

    Why I say don't refrigerate . You are making  ice cold, so now it is going to take a longer time in oven to finish cooking  because of cold state., its like starting over again. Therefore the  longer time in oven the drier and tougher the breast.
     
    erin hess likes this.
  5. greg

    greg

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    I should have been more clear. It can be done a day ahead, but for better quality, Chef Ed's method is best. If done a day before, the pans of chicken would have to be wrapped as soon as it's chilled. If someone forgets, it sits in the cooler and the circulating air dries it out even before the oven has a chance to. If you've got skill problems with your staff, it's better to go Ed's way and eliminate problems before they arise.
     
  6. airforks

    airforks

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    Thank you both for some good ideas (I'm not sure about brining- sound like a lot of additional sodium)!

    Sear it on my tilt-griddle, pan it into 2" full pans w/ a little stock, finish ~20min...

    Two questions- how do you handle the food being in the "danger zone" if you don't hold it in the fridge, and I've got convection ovens- since I've already browned it, should i foil the pans to prevent further drying out?
     
  7. chefedb

    chefedb

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    I would cover especially in convection because its dry forced hot air. As far as danger zone  You are cooking it lets say 2 hour before putting in oven  thats not to long of a time because most health people say your allowed 4.
     
  8. brian ga club

    brian ga club

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    Follow these instructions that the others said, but also, when it is time to put the chicken in the hotel pans, add a bit of water or stock.  Another great thing to do is to line the bottom of the pan with some lettuce, like green leaf.  When you do this, the lettuce will wilt before the chicken, and once the chicken starts to steam, the juice from the chicken will go down into the lettuce, reconstituting it, and starting the process over again, so your chicken will never dry out.  It's also important to keep the chicken covered when it is on the line to trap the steam.
     
  9. greenguy

    greenguy

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    Chef ed's method is probably the best, especially if you are serving whole chicken breasts, but if you are doing slices you can cook the chicken completely, slice it, line it in the pans and steam for about 6 minutes to bring it to temp.  When it's done drain out any excess water in the pan then like the others said, add some stock or sauce.  It's good because you can do the cooking the day before and then just heat it as needed and then any extra product should still be good to use again since it hasn't been reheated yet, or held at a high temp for an extended period of time.  Also works well with sliced pork loin, but probably not beef.  Just a thought.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012
  10. layjo

    layjo

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    Good suggestions!
     
  11. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    So man, welcome back.  You've been away for years.
     
  12. layjo

    layjo

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    Oh hey thanks!  Yeah been away for a while, heheh.
     
  13. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Bnquet or volume cooking is handled the same be it 5 portions or 500 .As far as the actual cooking and seasoning. . All you need is more oven space and bigger pots and more holding space.  And sure another hand or 2 if possible.
     
  14. thetincook

    thetincook

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    I dunno about that, man. Depending on what I'm making, I certainly use different techniques if I'm putting out hundreds of servings at once, rather then 5. But then again, I freely admit shoemaker status.
     
  15. thetincook

    thetincook

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    Here's what I've been doing with boneless skinless breasts lately.

    The breasts we get aren't portion controlled, so we have some smaller and some larger pieces. So what I do is make sure that all the small breasts go on the same pans, and likewise with the bigger breasts. That way it's easy to pull the smaller breasts out before the bigger breasts. I pull them before they hit temp (I use the finger poke test), dump the breasts and the pan drippings into a 600 pan covered with foil, and let them rest and carryover cook in the warmer.

    They still will drip a lot of moisture in the holding pan, but they've stayed moist and tender at service. The jus either gets put into the sauce, or reserved for other use. I don't think I've needed to hold it for more then an hour.
     
  16. chefedb

    chefedb

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    if they are random size , how do patrons wind up with same sizeportions??
     
  17. thetincook

    thetincook

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    Mine is not to question why...
     
  18. thetincook

    thetincook

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    Ok, serious answer. Most of it ends up sliced or chopped up for stuff like salads, quesadilla, soup garnish, staff meal. If they stay 'whole' that usually means they are headed for a buffet service were port size isn't strictly critical. The large ones would get slit in half on a shallow angle.

    It's not the best method for cooking chicken, but it's boneless skinless breasts. I'm making the tradeoff for keeping it moist. I'd mark it and finish as discussed by others here, but I'm equipment limited.
     
  19. chefedb

    chefedb

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    I can see useing random for salads etc but not as portions. Some guest will be looking in chaffer for the largest. Plus by varying sizees it makes it more difficult for you as they all require different cook times,