The blandness of a boneless, skinless chicken breast is exactly what makes it so popular; this inexpensive low-fat protein can be adapted to any kind of cuisine. Unfortunately, improper cooking often renders chicken breasts dry and stringy. Yuck!
The secret to juicy chicken breasts is using a cooking method that does not allow the meat to dry out. "[This method] heats the chicken breasts quickly on the stovetop then lets them essentially poach from the inside out in their juices in a covered pan," said Faith Durand, cookbook author and executive editor of Kitchn. Keep reading and we will describe how it works:
Begin by heating olive oil or butter in a pan at medium heat. Carefully place flattened chicken -- plain or seasoned with whatever herbs and spices you desire -- into the pan. The oil should be hot enough to begin a gentle sizzling when the meat is placed inside.
Cook chicken for one minute, then turn over. The cooked side should be mostly white with a little bit of brown beginning to show. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and cook for an additional ten minutes. Do not lift the lid during this time; keeping the moisture inside the pan is what produces a juicy piece of meat!
After ten minutes on medium the chicken is done, but Durand prefers to cook hers on low then remove it from heat and let it sit for an additional ten minutes. She also notes that, although not necessary, a 15-minute brine will add more juice and flavor to the meat.
The covered pan method is great for preparing chicken so tender and juicy that it will take a starring role in any dish. For juicy chicken that is ready-to-eat, try this quick marinade from Chef Jeff Trombetta, culinary professor at the University of New Haven in Connecticut: a sprinkle each of kosher salt and white pepper topped with freshly squeezed lemon juice then olive oil and mix with chopped fresh herbs of your choosing.
Trombetta allows the chicken to sit in the marinade while butter heats in a pan on medium heat. The chicken is placed in the pan and covered with the remainder of the marinade. After a quick browning of one minute on each side, he places the pan into the oven under the broiler until the meat is firm and thoroughly cooked.
While the chicken is broiling, Trombetta prepares a second marinade by whisking together lemon juice, herbs, basil oil, salt, pepper and olive oil. This marinade is swirled upon the serving plate as a delicious bed of sauce for the perfectly cooked and sliced chicken breast.
The marinade method is delicious all by itself, and the covered-pan method produces tender and juicy chicken for any dish. The important thing is that no matter what cuisine you are preparing, you will never have to suffer through stringy or dried out chicken again!