It’s a Wrap — Kale and Chicken Burritos with Instant Pot Sous Vide

Do you want to add some kale to your diet? We all know that kale is full of nutritonal value, but how do you incorporate it into meals. These “Kale and Chicken Burrito Wraps” are absoutely delicious and make a very tasty and nutritious way to accomplish this goal. My chicken breast is tender because I used an Instant Pot set on Sous Vide mode to cook the lean breasts. I added a tangy dressing to the kale which, actually, makes a pretty good salad by itself. This burrito wrap makes a healthy and tasty lunch. I could eat this every day.

Dinosaur Kale

Kale is about the only vegetable which was hardy enough to make it through the freezes this winter in my Louisiana garden. The kale froze back, but the plants have regenerated with new growth in January and February. I guess that there is a reason for why kale is such a predominant plant the of gardens in Ireland, Great Britian and Northern Europe. It really does thrive in cold weather. And a freeze actually makes the leaves taste a little sweeter.

This is dinosour kale (also known by Tuscan kale, lacinato kale). This kale has dark green, rough and bumpy leaves which grow from a central stem. These slender leaves can actually grow to be about three feet tall. (Because this is the second growth after the freeze, these leaves are not that tall.) It is time to pick these dinosaur kale leaves and use them in meals.

Our local newspaper recently featured a recipe for “Kale and Chicken Wraps.” I thought, aha, there’s a unique use for my kale. Although dinasour kale is usually cooked; this recipe uses the raw kale in a salad. In this case, chopped kale leaves are”massaged” with your hands to break down the tough fibers. This recipe involves cooking a chicken breast, chopping the kale and adding a tangy dressing and then assembling the wrap — adding Parmesan cheese, for good measure. For the wrap, I used soft flour tortillas — I always keep these tortillas in my refrigerator and am ready to make hot burritos or cold wraps of some sort at any time.

Tough chicken breasts? You are not alone

I frequently hear complaints that chicken breasts seem so tough these days. It is difficult to cook the breasts so that they are tender. I agree. And apparently it is not just our imagination. There actually is an industry term for these tough chicken breasts which is termed, “woody chicken.” “Woody chicken” is chicken breasts which are coarse in texture, hard to the touch, pale in color with poor quality texture. It is named because the chicken muscle fibers feel like wood fibers. Often these chicken breasts are the larger ones. Apparently, it is a problem that has plagued the poultry industry for about eight years now. Poultry producers and researchers are aware of the problem but do not have a cure. And the chicken breast is the only part of the chicken affected with this problem — not the thighs, drumsticks or wings, for example. So, for the time being, we are stuck with chicken breasts which are “tough.” To minimize the problem, look with smaller breasts with a pink hue, a plump appearance and firm texture. Good luck with that.

Chicken breasts are a lean and healthy choice for getting protein in our diets. There is very little fat in a chicken breast. So, let’s not eliminate chicken from our meals. There are ways to cook the breasts to keep them tender. Sous Vide cooking is one method.

What is Sous Vide?

Cooking the chicken breasts in an Instant Pot with the setting on Sous Vide mode helps keep the breasts tender. I am fortunate that my Instant Pot has this mode.

What is sous vide? Sous vide is a method of cooking a food under a vacuum at a specified temperature. To accomplish this, fill the Instant Pot half way full with water and set the water temperature to stay at 145 degrees. Put the chicken in a zip lock bag and press out as much air as possible. When the zip lock bag with the chicken is submerged into the water bath, a vaccum is created. The chicken just cooks away. And this method works — although it does take about one hour and 35 minutes for one chicken breast. This is the most tender piece of chicken breast that I can hope for.


For my recipe, I used one 8-ounce chicken breast. (Yes, this breast was quite large!) I sliced the breast in half crosswise to make it thiner and seasoned both sides with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Then I placed the seasoned beast into a gallon-size zip lock bag removing as much as the air as possible. I sealed the bag except that I left one corner open so that any additional air could excape. I set the temperature to of my Instant Pot Sous Vide mode to 145 degrees and the time to 1 hour and 35 minutes. The entire breast was submerged in water (but not the top of the zip lock bag). When the chicken was submerged, the vaccum was created. The chicken breast simmered away while I went on to make the kale salad. When the cooking time was up and the Instant Pot “dinged”, I removed the breast and patted it dry using a paper towel. Then I seared it on both sides in a skillet with a little oil to enhance the flavor. For this recipe, I sliced the cooked breast into thin pieces for the burrito wrap.

Kale Salad

The kale salad is simple to make. Wash the kale leaves thoroughly!! (They have been in the garden along with all the bugs and critters.) Then I removed the center rib and cut the leaves into strips. Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to the chopped leaves. I massaged the kale leaves for two minutes with my fingers to help tenderize the kale and breakdown tough fibers. (I put my hand inside a zip lock bag to do this task (or use a disposble plastic glove). This is a raw salad, I’m trying to eliminate germs on my hands from getting into the salad.)

Here are the ingredients for the salad dressing and salad.

Mix the ingredients to make a tangy dressing using sour cream, Dijon justard and seasonings. For my salad, I added cucumber and a tiny bit of onion and garlic — they add so much flavor and texture. Mix everything together.

When I was ready to make the wraps, I softened the flour burritos in the microwave for a few seconds. Then I piled on the chicken, salad and Parmesan cheese and rolled up the wraps. This recipe makes four wraps using 8″ diameter burritos. Delicius!

I enjoy many types of burritos and wraps such as “Breakfast Burritos,” soft ground beef tacos and chicken fajitas. I am pleased to have a new addition to my recipe collection which incorporates kale into the mix. Enjoy the recipe!

Cooking “tough” chicken

And, I am glad that I took the time to research “tough chicken” on the internet and discover that I’m not the only one noticing this problem. It apparently is been around for several years, and subjectively, seems to be getting worse. And how are we to cook “tough chicken” (aka “woody chicken”)? I don’t know how you can figure out if the chicken breasts you purchased are tough or tender. In the mean time, I am treating all large chicken breast pieces like the less tender cuts of meat — such as pot roasts, etc. I am cooking the chicken breasts with lots of moisture, such as braising, poaching, stewing, smothering.

I had good results, for example, when I breaded and seared the chickien breasts, added them to a casserole of spaghetti and tomato sauce, covered it tightly with foil and baked it in the oven. Another idea is to sear the chicken on the stove, add cooking liquid — such as wine, cover tightly and let the chicken stew. a.k.a. Chicken Marsala — see a great recipe for this dish posted on Comfort du Jour’s blog at Alternatively marinate the chicken with buttermilk or other marinades to tenderize the chicken breasts. Or use the Souv Vide mode on the Instant Pot. And for roasted, BBQ and fried chicken, I am purchasing chicken leg quarters and individual thighs, legs and wings which don’t have this problem. Now that I recognize the problem, I can deal with it. Wonder why consumers haven’t been appraised of the problem by the poultry industry? Hum.

Kale and Chicken Burrito Wraps with Instant Pot Sous Vide

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients for Sous Vide chicken:

  • 1 (8 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • dashes of Italian seasoning
  • dash salt
  • dash black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil

Ingrediens for kale salad:

  • 3 to 4 ounces of kale, as purchased to make 2 cups chopped kale ribbons
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • dash black pepper
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (may substitute nonfat Greek Yogurt)
  • 1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1/2 peeled, chopped cucumber

For the wraps:

  • thinly sliced chicken breast (see above)
  • kale salad (see above)
  • 4 (8″ diameter) soft flour tortillas (or  burittos)
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated, Parmesan cheese

Method and Steps:

  1. Fill an Instant Pot (must have Sous Vide mode) half full with water. Set temperature of Sous Vide mode to 145 degrees and time to 1 hour and 35 minutes. Press “run” to heat water. You do not need to put the lid on the Instant Pot.
  2. Meanwhile, slice chicken breast in half horizontally to filet it and make it thinner. Open breast out.
  3. Spinkle both sides of breast with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
  4. Place seasoned chicken breast inside a 1-gallon zip lock bag. Press most of the air out to seal bag, leaving a 2″ opening on one end of the closure so additional air can escape.
  5. When Instant Pot reaches 145 degree temperature, submerge the zip lock bag with chicken into the water. Zip lock bag does not need to be entirely submerged in the water — only the chicken. The zip lock bag should create vaccum and the chicken will sink. Re-set the time on the Instant Pot back to 1 hour and 35 minutes. No need to cover the Instant Pot. Leave the chicken alone to cook, go on to the make kale salad.
  6. For the kale salad, carefully wash, rinse and drain all the kale leaves. Using a small knife, cut the center rib out of each kale leaf. Slice the kale leaves crosswise into thin ribbons. Place kale ribbons in large-size bowl.
  7. Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to kale. Place one hand inside a disposable plastic glove (I use a 1-quart size zip lock bag) and toss to combine. Then massage the kale with your fingers for two minutes to break down the tough fibers. Set aside.
  8. For the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, finely chopped onion, minced garlic and stir to combine.
  9. Gently stir in the chopped cucumber.
  10. Chill kale salad until ready to assemble wraps.
  11. When the cooking time of chicken in the Instant Pot is completed and Instant Pot ringer “dings”, remove chicken breast. Remove chicken from zip lock bag transfer onto a plate. Pat dry with a paper towl.
  12. Heat canola oil in heavy skillet to medium-high heat. Add cooked chicken breast and sear on both sides until browned. Remove from skillet and slice. 
  13. For burrito wraps, warm soft flour tortillas in microwave oven for about 30 seconds (for two burritos). Warm the additional tortillas in the same manner. Pile 1/4 of the sliced chicken and salad onto each tortilla. (This recipe makes four burritos.) Spinkle with Parmesan cheese. Roll burritos up. Slice crosswise in half.

NOTE: Cooking more than one chicken breast at a time in Instant Pot on Sous Vide mode will increase cooking time.

(Recipe is adapted from Gretchen McKay, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)


Chicken Marsala Recipe:

2 thoughts on “It’s a Wrap — Kale and Chicken Burritos with Instant Pot Sous Vide

  1. Thanks for the shout out on my Marsala, Maylee! This wrap sandwich sounds delicious, and it’s such a nutritious twist on a chicken Caesar! I always learn so much from you about the amazing foods you are able to grow in your garden. I loved the tip about massaging the kale with a plastic bag, too. I never think about that kind of thing, but I’m mostly just feeding my husband and me and I’m obsessive about washing my hands. Definitely something to remember when I’m feeding a crowd, though!

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