Even at Costco, organic and uncured deli chicken or turkey breast meat with zero refined sugars is going to set you back around $10/lb…or more! It can be far more frugal to make your own at home, and with such an easy process, you may never go back to store-bought lunch meats again. (I haven’t anyway…hee hee.) Now, onward for sandwich stuffing sensationalism!
“Uncuring” your own luncheon chicken breast is also a surefire way to enjoy a meal that you know has high quality ingredients. Yes, the Paleo approved products you find at the grocery store tend to have a much better ingredient list versus them nasty-fer-ya nitrate-laden counterparts. (Ie: sea salt, cane sugar, broth… Versus: sodium nitrite, carageenan, modified food starch, maltodextrin). BUT making them yourself allows you to control the ingredients even further. DIY deli meats can also encompass any fancy flavor combinations you want. Think: Buffalo chicken breast; or Garlic Lemon; even Balsamic Molasses…get crazy wit it!
This version is Whole 30 approved if you omit the honey, and also compliant with the Autoimmune Protocol as-is.
The best trick to this lunch meat is that after cooking, chill the chicken COMPLETELY before slicing. Your meat will retain more moisture this way, and have that lovely, slightly compressed density to it. Slicing it right away after cooking will make for a more flaking and crumbly meat. Either way it’s tasty….but if you want those heavenly, delicately thin slices…chill til they’re chilled, babe. And when you do slice it, use a very sharp chef’s knife so you don’t just end up with a pile of crushed meat.
- Add chicken to a large air-tight container.
- Sprinkle with salt, honey if using, and cover with water.
- Give the container a few gentle shakes to incorporate the ingredients.
- Store in the fridge for 48 hours, shaking gently once a day.
- Drain and discard brine, and rinse the chicken.
- Strain well and pat dry.
- Heat a large dutch oven over medium/medium-high heat (between medium and medium high).
- Add in 2 Tb of preferred cooking fat, and sear both sides of breasts until golden brown. (You may skip this step if you do not want to brown the chicken.)
- Cover just barely with water, cover with lid, and turn the heat to high.
- Bring chicken to the boil, then quickly reduce heat to medium and simmer gently for 5 minutes more or until just cooked through.
- Remove chicken from broth, and allow to cool enough before storing in the fridge.
- Chill completely before slicing, at least 4 hours, to keep the chicken as juicy as possible.
- Use a very sharp chef's knife for slicing to avoid crumbling the meat.
- If you want to use the leftover broth: Bring back to the boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 30 minutes to kill any potential pathogens. It will be a little salty, but still delicious for use in other recipes!
- This also works well for turkey breast. You will need to adjust cooking time accordingly so that the turkey is cooked thoroughly.