When you read a recipe that calls for four chicken breasts, how many do you go out and buy? It may come as a surprise, but this is a frequent argument among culinary social circles — a lot of people would go out and buy eight chicken breasts, while others would only buy four.
Read More: 13 Chicken Breast Recipes
The most basic way to approach this predicament is to ask: How many breasts does a chicken have? Believe it or not, a chicken only has one breast, so if you’re one of those people that would go out and buy four, you’re been working under the wrong assumption. We know, it sounds ludicrous; it makes perfect sense to assume that a chicken has two breasts (I mean, how many breasts do women have, right?), but the technical culinary way to answer that question is to say a chicken has one breast.
Don’t freak out; you’re not alone. Even some editors at The Daily Meal were flabbergasted when they heard it. In fact, there are a lot of culinary professionals that have been working under the assumption that a half, split breast is considered a full one. In many cases, people know that a chicken only has one breast, but still call a split-breast a full one. When speaking to chef and restaurateur David Burke about how he writes his menu, he’s on the two-breasted chicken side, and understands how it can be quite the pickle for someone at the grocery store.
"I’m not a consumer and I never think about it that way; I always just think about it when writing on a restaurant menu," he says, and agrees with the notion (common among the majority of cooks and diners out there) that a chicken has two breasts. So, while the idea that a chicken has two breasts is wrong, it’s probably safe to assume that a lot of people are thinking that way, too. When you see a recipe calling for one chicken breast, it probably means a half, split-breast. But it may not always be the case and you’ll never really know unless you go straight to the author, so the best way to go about shopping for your chicken breasts is to use your instincts. Instincts are essential to being a good home cook, so if you think that eight split-breasts would be too much in a recipe that calls for four chicken breasts, then go with four.
So, now that we’ve got that covered, are you ready to see some chicken breast recipes? This week’s SWAT theme was simple in nature but gave a lot of room for creativity. Take assistant editor Tyler Sullivan’s 'Chicken & Guts' recipe — despite the name, this recipe was loaded with lots of delicious ingredients, required just one pot, and was incredibly easy to make. There’s also social media manager Nathan Cyphert’s brie-and-apple-stuffed chicken, which sheds a savory light on the popular fruit. Some of the recipes made us think of the ol’ chicken breast debate, too. We were smirking to ourselves reading Eat editor Dan Myers' chicken cordon bleu recipe, as we were easily able to determine how many breasts he thinks a chicken has. And then there were some recipes, like CCN contributor Patricia Stagich of Comfy Cuisine, that avoid the whole predicament altogether, calling for the amount in pounds, rather than quantity.
Chicken breasts — whether split, whole, or halved — ruled the roost in this SWAT contest, and each recipe reflected the culinary-genius talent that The Daily Meal is known for. While they all stood out as unique and innovative takes on the commonly used ingredient, I kept going back to Lisa and Anna of Garnish With Lemon’s chicken with feta sauce. The sauce proved that chicken can be exciting, and was so easy to prepare. Executive editor Arthur Bovino’s chicken posole was a close second, but sometimes it’s just hard to beat a cheese sauce.
Anne Dolce is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce