Cooktop Cove: Dry chicken is no good. Here are four methods to get juicy chicken every time
There's a reason chicken is the go-to protein in so many households. It's inexpensive, it's one of the most versatile meats out there, and even when a fattier cut is purchased such as chicken thighs, it's much healthier than red meat. But with all these benefits chicken has to have a downside, and it does: It dries out super quickly.
One of the reason people tend to dry out chicken is because of the risks that come with undercooked chicken, namely salmonella. And although you certainly want to make sure chicken is cooked all the way through and the center reaches the safe temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, there are ways to do this without completely losing all of its delicious juices. Read on to learn about the best four ways to get tender, juicy chicken so you can start enjoying it even more!
1. Cut chicken breasts in half
Chicken breasts have long been a favorite on both restaurant menus and family kitchen tables. Although this is the healthiest cut of chicken you can buy, it's also the one that will dry out the quickest. Part of the reason is because chicken breasts are naturally very uneven. They have a large, thick top with a bottom that tapers off until it is very thin.
To combat this, slice chicken breasts in half, not across the middle but through the middle. Place your hand over the top of the chicken breast, press down slightly and, using a sharp knife, slice right through the center. You should end up with two pieces in the same shape as the chicken breast before being sliced; they'll just be thinner. Doing this will thin out the thickest part of the chicken breast, allowing the entire thing to cook evenly and retain all those delicious juices.
2. Pound chicken breast
If you really don't want to cut the chicken breast in half, you can still get a breast that is thin and even by pounding it. Start by placing the chicken breast inside a large resealable bag or between two pieces of parchment paper. You need something between the meat and the tool you're going to use to pound it or the breast will stick to the tool and probably rip and tear. That tool can be a meat mallet, a rolling pin or even a wine bottle or a glass jar. Start at the thickest part of the breast and gently pound it to a thinness even with the bottom piece. The chicken breast will cook faster this way and, because it's so thin, it won't dry out.
3. Forget about boneless and skinless
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts became such a hot trend because they are incredibly healthy and cook very quickly because they don't contain a bone. But, as already mentioned, they are also the quickest to dry out. Instead, choose a cut of chicken that has the bone in and the skin on. Chicken skin is incredibly fatty, and that fat will seep down throughout the meat and provide the moisture it needs to keep the chicken from drying out. If you're worried about all that fat, you can easily peel the skin off once it's done cooking, but it really is the secret weapon that will keep chicken moist.
Just as you want the skin on, you also want the bone in. Any meat that still has its bone inside will retain its moisture better than a cut that does not. In addition, meat that is cooked with the bone still attached will always be more flavorful than those that do not. Part of that is because the bone helps retain delicious juices.
4. Bread the chicken
With this tip, it doesn't matter if you're cooking a boneless chicken breast or a fatty juicy chicken drumstick or thigh with a bone running through it. When chicken is breaded, that outer coating helps lock in all moisture and keep it from drying out. Setting up a standard breading station and coating the chicken in flour, then dipping it in egg before pressing it into bread crumbs will work perfectly fine. But if you want to amp up the juiciness even more, forget about the flour and egg and lightly coat the chicken in something thicker such as yogurt (and even mayonnaise works) before coating it with bread crumbs.
Of course, you still can't leave it in the oven for hours because eventually it will dry out. But this simple trick will keep the juices where they're supposed to be - inside the chicken.
Know others that love chicken as much as you do? Share these tips on Facebook so everyone can enjoy juicy, flavorful chicken!
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