Improve Your Chicken Breasts

When properly prepared, chicken breast is moist and delicious.
When properly prepared, chicken breast is moist and delicious.

For anyone interested in basic cooking, chicken breasts are probably often on the dinner table. After all, they are inexpensive and simple to prepare. However, it’s easy to end up with dishes that are dry and overcooked. If that’s the case with your chicken breasts, it’s time to step up your game with a few tips.

1. Cook it with the bones and skin
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts may be convenient, but they do not always have the best flavor. Since breasts have minimal fat, it’s important to retain as much of the natural juices in the meat as possible. Otherwise you risk being left with a stringy, disappointing meal.

According to Bon Appetit, both the skin and bone will help to prevent the breast from drying out. And while chicken skin can be delicious, you’re certainly under no obligation to eat it. When the breast is finished, you can simply cut it off.

If you’re in a rush, you may prefer a boneless cut. In that case, pound the meat out so it will cook evenly and then prepare it in in a hot skillet.

2. Use a marinade
If you’re accustomed to white chicken meat having a bland flavor, you should try soaking it in a marinade. Use an acid like vinegar to make the breast more tender. Then add salt and various aromatic herbs and spices to mingle their distinctive tastes. If you like, you can also mix in brown sugar, which will caramelize the meat as it cooks.

“Today” suggested several marinades that can work great with chicken. The classic Italian version includes balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, basil and chili flakes. The teriyaki marinade consists of soy sauce, pineapple juice, honey and ginger. Try out one of these combinations or improvise your own with the ingredients you have in the pantry.

You can also try brining the chicken or preparing a dry rub. Brining usually calls for long wait, first for the brine to cool and then for meat to soak. However, or a quick lemon-herb brine, Michael Ruhlman advised heating a mixture of 15 ounces of water, 3 ounces of salt, onion, garlic, herbs, lemon, peppercorns and bay leaves, and then cooling it with ice.

A rub is a faster means of adding some intriguing tastes. Simply brush on a your preferred combination of spices, and your chicken breast will be ready to cook. Cooking Light suggested several different variations such as Mexican mole, Moroccan curry and juniper.

Rosted Chicken

3. Don’t overcook
Roasting the bird is the best cooking method to ensure tasty results. Unlike poaching, which diminishes the natural flavors, roasting will intensify them. Set the oven at a temperature between 375 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Serious Eats recommended starting off on the stovetop, using a medium-sized, oven-safe skillet to heat a tablespoon of canola oil on high. Then, place the breasts in the skillet with the skin facing down and cook until it becomes golden brown. Flip the breasts and place the skillet in the oven to roast for seven to 12 minutes.

4. Use the juices in the pan
A simple pan sauce is a great way to add more flavor to your chicken breast. Plus, even if you do cook the poultry a little too long, this method will allow you to salvage it by restoring some of the juiciness. As The Kitchn explained, you begin by pouring all but a tablespoon of oil or fat out of the pan. Then set the pan on the stovetop at medium-high heat. Pour on a quarter cup of wine or beer to deglaze, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom with a spatula. When the alcohol is reduced by about half, bring the heat down to medium-low and add butter or cream.

5. Mix it up
One of the great advantages of chicken breasts is their versatility. You can add a wide variety of ingredients and try out many different cooking techniques. Don’t be afraid to experiment and you may discover a new favorite. Real Simple suggested ideas like an arugula salad with avocado, a stir fry with bok choy or wrapping the breasts in prosciutto.

By following these guidelines, you’ll have moist, flavorful chicken breasts every time. Remember, just because a dinner is routine doesn’t mean it can’t also be delicious.

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