Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Aptly named as they were relatively unknown until the mid 70's when a few big airline companies began to use them for in-flight meals, and airline breast is usually chicken (can be other poultry as well though) that has the skin on, and the wing attached. in restaurant they can be also be called statlers, or wing tip breast. at work i have them on the menu twice, once stuffed with crab, spinach, and jack and asiago cheese, and the other baked to a gorgeous brown then topped with a seasonal local mushroom sauce. we sell the daylights out of them, which means in turn i clean a lot of them. it isn't odd for me to buckle down with my boning knife and clean 100 in a sitting. we buy them with the backbone on, and so it comes off and the wing is lacerated to the bone, then i turn it and bend the joint of the wing back and pull it off. i know that it is a bit off putting to some, but it doesn't bother me at all. the wings go in the stock pot and the skin is trimmed to present a bit more cleanly. the bonus to all of this is when done correctly they present fabulously, also by still having the wing bone attached (even though it has been stripped of all the flesh) and the skin on, the chicken will retain more moisture then a boneless skinless breast will. in almost every instance you will find that a bone in a piece of meat will yield a juicer cooked product (steaks with bone tend to be more expensive in the grocery store than boneless ones are). since i cant walk into a grocery store and order like i can from my meat purveyor at work i cut them off of whole chickens if i am going to use them at home. these were seared and then baked in the oven at a high temperature for about 20 minutes, rested, then served on tortellini. dont be afraid to get your hands on a whole bird and give it a shot, chickens are cheap and available year round, and they make a great meal. two birds will make a meal of 4 airline breast, another 4 braised legs, and a carcass for stock, all for about 9-11 dollars. i know some people are horribly scared of the bacteria that they are notorious for carrying, so buy them from a reputable source (i think foster farms does a great job) take them straight home, store them at the bottom of your refrigerator, and when it comes time to harvest give yourself plenty of space, and get your "place" together. have a sharp knife, paper towels, sheet pans, and ziplocs to put things in. when your done wipe up and then sanitize. buying whole chickens will teach you about being a tad more versatile, less wasteful, and will usually give you a true never frozen product that has less chance of having been chemically treated at some point along the line, and is usually less expensive then buying skinless breast.