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A dried-out, overcooked chicken breast happens to everyone every now and again. Keep your head up—you can fix this. Here's how.

Rochelle Bilow
April 24, 2017

Few things are as dissapointing as cutting into what you planned on being a succulent, juicy __insert your favorite cut of poultry, beef, or pork here__, and finding that you (or worse, someone you paid) overcooked the meat into a lifeless and dry slab of "tough luck, kid." It's upsetting, but it happens to all of us. And here's the secret that kitchen pros know: An overcooked cut isn't a lost cause. So the next time you step away from the grill for just a few minutes too long, here's how to remedy the your exceptionally well done meat.

1. Slather it with a sauce.

While this won’t undo your kitchen mistake, it WILL add a little moisture back into the meat. Use a basting brush (or one of these clever hacks) to generously slather a sauce onto that over-cooked chicken breast can make a world of difference. Go for a barbecue sauce, honey mustard sauce, pesto sauce... whatever feels right to you. 

2. Put it in a soup.

Soaking overcooked meat in broth can bring a little moisture back into it, which means soup is, as usual, a perfect dinner-saving solutuon. Keep in mind, you don’t have to go homemade here—store-bought soup will save you in a pinch. Cut or shred the meat into bite-sized pieces and gently heat in a pot of your favorite veggie or noodle soup. 

3. Hide it in a sandwich.

Surrounded by lettuce, veggies, and good bread, you won’t even notice that steak is a little tough. Also relevant: mayonnaise. So much mayonnaise. All of the mayonnaise. Seriously, tuck that overcooked protein into the context of a custom Reuben, panini, club, sloppy Joe, or whatever sandwich floats your boat, and you'll be good to go. 

4. Definitely don’t reheat it.

Got leftovers? Eat them straight outta the fridge. Reheating them will only cook them further, making them more dry and tough. Shredded chicken salad, anyone? Remember—all the mayonnaise, people. 

Watch: How to Make Greek Chicken Salad 2 Ways

 

How to avoid the problem in the first place:

Buy bone-in cuts.

Bone-in chicken thighs take a bit longer to cook than boneless, skinless chicken breasts—but they have a lot more flavor and stay moist. Same goes for pork chops

Cook with the skin on.

Even if you don’t eat it, keeping the skin on during roasting, grilling, or searing helps naturally keep the meat moist…without any added fat.

Cook with fat.

Basting with butter and roasting with plenty of olive oil helps to ensure that the meat will stay moist. This is why chefs like to confit meat; the process of cooking animal protein in plenty of fat has an incredibly succulent result. Want to taste the magic of leveraging fat to your advatage? Just try this Pan-Seared New York Strip—it exemplifies the beauty of butter basting in a most delicious way. 

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