Radio frequency cooking of fresh and marinated chicken breast meat and its quality
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Packaged fresh and marinated chicken breast meat were cooked in the radio frequency (RF) oven at 27.12 MHz until the center of the breasts reached to 74 °C at the coldest point of the package. The effect of RF cooking on the quality, temperature distribution and heating rate of chicken breast meat were studied. RF cooked breasts were compared to the conventional cooked breasts in the water bath (WB). Moreover effect of marination and addition of ι-carrageenan on the quality of the raw and cooked chicken breast meat were investigated and compared to unmarinated breasts. The time to reach end point temperature in the RF oven was 23.8 min for 1.36 kg breasts, whereas it took 41.3 min to cook in the WB. RF cooking time was 42.4% lower than WB cooking time. RF cooking resulted in higher heating rate (2.67 °C/min when compared to 1.8 °C/min in the WB). However temperature distribution of WB cooked breasts was significantly better than RF cooked breasts. Cook yield, moisture content, pH, expressible moisture, shear value of RF and WB cooked chicken breast meat were statistically the same. However RF cooked chicken breast meat had lower a* (redness) and saturation values than their WB cooked counterparts. Non-uniform heating distribution might be the reason to observe low a* and saturation values, since more heating causes less chance of pink discoloration. Marination resulted in increase in the cook yield, moisture content, and pH value. Addition of ι-carrageenan to the marinade also increased the cook yield, moisture content of the cooked breasts. Marination increased the tenderness, meanwhile addition of ι-carrageenan made chicken breasts more tender. Neither marination nor ι-carrageenan addition affected the expressible moisture of cooked samples, as moisture retention in the meat structure was primarily due to physical changes in the protein structure.