Make us your home page
Instagram

From the food editor: Three tips for preparing chicken breast

Parchment Chicken [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]

Parchment Chicken [EVE EDELHEIT | Times]

This week we turn our attention to the humble chicken breast, a go-to protein for many home cooks. But it's easy to get into a chicken rut, relying on the same recipe over and over or cooking it in a way that results in something bland and boring.

You deserve a tastier bite, but in a reasonable amount of time.

I asked around the Features department to see if any of my colleagues had go-to recipes for turning this cut of meat into a satisfying but easy weeknight dinner. You can find their ideas, and a couple of my own, here — and most of them come together in less than 30 minutes.

There are also some general know-hows to keep in mind when cooking skinless, boneless chicken breast, to ensure you go into each recipe prepared. Here are my top three tips for getting the most out of your cutlets.

Thaw them properly

First of all, never try to cook a frozen chicken breast. You want room temperature as an ideal starting point. The best way to thaw frozen chicken is to leave it in the refrigerator for long enough to defrost (usually just overnight). But we don't always have that kind of time. A quick way to get chicken breasts to room temperature is to place them in a sealable plastic bag, in a bowl of cold water until thawed (should take no longer than 30 minutes).

Marinate

There are a couple of ways to go about marinating chicken before you cook it, a process that prevents the meat from drying out when cooked — and also adds flavor. There is the method of dumping a bunch of (usually liquid) ingredients in a container, adding the chicken, then letting that sit overnight in the fridge. There's also the dry-brining technique, like how you would prepare meats for the grill. The most basic version is to salt a chicken breast very well, then let it sit for 30 minutes.

Another even more low-key marinating method is to place chicken in a bowl, then add Greek yogurt or enough buttermilk to cover the chicken. If using the yogurt, rub it all around the chicken so it's fully coated. Let sit for as long as you wish — overnight is best, but even 15 minutes will do.

Make sure they are the same size

Chicken breast isn't very forgiving, given its low fat content. It doesn't take long for one to become overcooked, and this can happen more easily when you're cooking cuts that vary in size all at once. If you're cutting your chicken into tenders or nuggets, take care to cut them into roughly the same size, so that they can cook evenly.

Alternatively, it's important to pound your chicken with a meat mallet or other heavy object to make sure the cuts are of equal thickness. (Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the chicken before pounding.) When pan frying especially, the thickness of a cut is crucial. Since each chicken breast usually varies in thickness anyway, pounding out the thicker end is a good rule of thumb even if you're cooking it by itself.

COOKING INSPIRATION IN YOUR INBOX


Sign up for our cooking email to get weekly updates from food editor Michelle Stark.

RESTAURANT REVIEWS/OTHER FOOD STORIES


MORE: Restaurant news and reviews

COOKING: Recipes and tips to do it yourself

From the food editor: Three tips for preparing chicken breast 08/07/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 9, 2017 1:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Ticket window: Shania Twain, Chicago, George Benson

    Music & Concerts

    Tickets for the following events go on sale this week:

    LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 01:  Singer Shania Twain performs during the debut of her residency show "Shania: Still the One" at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on December 1, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)
  2. Plan your weekend Aug. 25-27: Craig Morgan, Wearable Art 13, SNL's Pete Davidson, Rodeo Fest

    Events

    Plan your weekend

    USF

    Pete Davidson: Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson will headline this year's University of South Florida Round-Up Comedy Show, a back-to-school tradition at USF. Expect to hear about his recent trip to rehab, since he's known for his confessional …

    The 12th annual Wearable art Fashion Show was held at the Dunedin Fine Art Center on Saturday evening, August 27, 2016.
DAVID W DOONAN | Special To The Times
  3. Pasco Events for Aug. 25-31

    Events

    25 Friday

    Feeding Pasco's Elderly hosts inaugural Leadership Breakfast: The Pasco County Elderly Nutrition Division/Feeding Pasco's Elderly will host this east Pasco event to mirror the Ambassador's Breakfast fundraising event that has been held the past two years on the county's west side. County …

  4. Local craft beer of the week: Cherry Pastelitos, Coppertail Brewing Co. in Tampa

    Bars & Spirits

    On Saturday, Tampa's Coppertail Brewing Co. will celebrate its third anniversary with a Florida weisse festival, showcasing densely fruited tart wheat beers from more than a dozen Tampa Bay area breweries including, of course, many of its own brews in this summer-friendly style.

    Center: Coppertail Brewing’s Cherry Pastelitos. Flanking it are Coppertail’s BOMP (blood orange, mango, passionfruit), left, and Pinky Swear (pink lemonade-flavored).
  5. 'Smokey Joe's Cafe' opens run at Show Palace Dinner Theatre

    Stage

    The Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson takes a nostalgic swing through the 1950s and '60s with its production of Smokey Joe's Cafe, which opens Aug. 26. The local offering of the longest-running rock 'n' roll revue in Broadway history features the legendary pop tunes of hit makers Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber. …

    A local production of the 1950s and '60s musical revue "Smokey Joe's Cafe" opens Aug. 26 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson.