Saturday thoughts...Cooking Chicken Thighs for the Freezer

Preparing Cooked Chicken Thighs for the Freezer...

When I don’t want to can chicken, I usually cook some and package it for the freezer.  I purchased a package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs at Costco, not quite 10 pounds worth, for $2.79 a pound.  They are packaged together in 6 separate bags you can cut apart.  I put half the big package in the freezer uncooked, and then I cooked the other half.  I started with about 4 ¾ pounds of raw meat; after cooking I ended up with 3 pounds of cooked chicken plus a half-pint of chicken broth.  I package mine in 4 ounce (1 cup diced chicken) portions for our 2-person household.  I got 12 packages of 4 ounces of chicken thigh meat for $1.09 for each meal-sized package for 2 people.
My husband was surprised at how little work was involved…we had coffee and relaxed while the chicken was cooking and cooling.  I like to have this on hand going into chicken salad summer.
There are some safety precautions you should take when cooking raw chicken.  The advantage to cooking a larger amount of chicken at a time is reducing this critical clean up to just one time for several meals.
  • The chicken should be cooked to 165° - it even was marked in large type on the packages.  An oven probe like mine that beeps when the right temperature is set is great; otherwise use an instant read thermometer to check before your chicken may be done to keep it from cooking too long.
  • I dispose of all the packaging and paper, etc. that has come in contact with the raw chicken in a plastic grocery bag I can put in the trash without contaminating my sink or counters.
  • Use a plastic cutting mat for cutting the raw meat and put it in your dishwasher or clean and sanitize right away after using, the same for your knife, kitchen scissors or anything else that comes in contact with the raw chicken.  While your chicken is baking, clean and sanitize your sinks and counters.
Packaging Cooked Chicken for the Freezer    
Here’s the method I use for preparing chicken thigh meat for the freezer.
                 Chicken Thighs for Cooked Chicken Meals
  3-5#     pounds  chicken thighs, boneless, skinless
Preheat oven to 425°.  Put racks on the slots above and below the center slot in the oven.  Prepare oven meat thermometer. Place extra-wide aluminum foil on 2 half sheets. 
Cut thighs in half so they lay flat.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired.  Place on foil lined half sheets, not crowding.
Place the probe in one of the thickest pieces of meat and set for 165°.
Place sheets in the oven; connecting probe.  Set one timer for 10 minutes and another for 20 minutes.
After 10 minutes reverse pan locations and continue baking until thermometer registers 165°.
Total time about 20 minutes, depending on how cold the chicken was at the beginning.
Let cool on pans 10 minutes; then combine chicken on one pan, weighing the amount of chicken so you can estimate how many quart freezer bags you will need.
Refrigerate about 1 hour.
Label bags while chicken is cooling; package chicken in 4 ounce portions, cutting to get the right amount.  Pieces can be left whole as they can be cut for the recipe when needed.
Freeze up to one year.

1 comment:

  1. Great tutorial. I just literally did some thighs like this a few days ago. Exact same method and then at the end we vacuum seal (it's my favorite kitchen tool ha). They are great for quick meals. We do the same with whole chickens. If we decide to roast one for dinner, we have to heat up the oven for one so why not roast two at the same time.


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