A foolproof method for cooking chicken breasts.
Boneless skinless chicken breasts (aka BSCBs) — is there anything more boring? They are all too often served dry, chewy and tasteless. I usuall avoid now BSCBs in favor of more succulent boneless, skinless thighs. I do have one method, however, that makes unfailingly juicy and tender boneless skinless chicken breasts. Need some chicken for a salad, or to top some pasta? This is the method. It takes some trust, but believe me — it works flawlessly every single time.
This method takes trust; you can't check them or really watch them cooking. But I promise that if you follow this method exactly you won't be disappointed. I learned it from the old Joy of Cooking, which gives this method its special label: Cockaigne, reserved for only their personal favorite and best recipes.
I usually do this with about 1 pound of chicken breasts at a time. It gives me enough chicken for a few days of salads and lunches.
What You Need
1 to 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon freshly chopped herbs (optional)
1/2 tablespoon butter
10-inch sauté pan with lid
1. Pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness with the handle or flat of a knife.
2. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken breasts.
3. Mix about a half teaspoon of salt in with the flour along with a little pepper. Chop the herbs finely, if using, and mix in as well.
4. Quickly dredge the chicken breasts in the flour, so that they are just lightly dusted with flour.
5. Heat the sauté pan over medium-high heat. When it is quite hot, add the olive oil and butter. Let them melt, and swirl the pan.
6. Turn the heat to medium. Add the chicken breasts. Cook for just about 1 minute to help them get a little golden on one side (you are not actually searing or browning them). Then flip each chicken breast over.
7. Turn the heat to low. Put the lid on the pan. Set a timer for 10 minutes, and walk away. Do not lift the lid; do not peek.
8. After 10 minutes have elapsed, turn off the heat. Reset the timer for 10 minutes and leave the chicken breasts in the pan. Again, do not lift the lid; do not peek.
9. After the 10 minutes are up, take the lid off, and tada! Soft, tender, juicy chicken breasts that aren't dried out in the least. Doublecheck them to make sure there is no pink in the middle. If you want to be absolutely sure it is cooked, you can use an instant-read thermometer to check (the chicken should be at least 165°F). Slice and eat.
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(Images: Faith Durand)