Redeeming the Chicken Breast

Let’s be honest here.  Boneless, skinless chicken breasts aren’t the easiest things to cook; in fact, they can be – well – quite boring.  With very little fat present and being all white meat, they aren’t just bursting with rich flavor, and the line between “cooked enough” and “overcooked” is a very thin one.  Until recently, we just avoided chicken breasts entirely, unless boiling them to make chicken salad.  If chicken was on the menu, we were cooking a whole bird.

Then along came this beauty.

And life changed for the chicken breast – forever.

We know, we know.  The French have been doing this forever, not to mention grandma.  We’re a little slow on some things.

So here’s a basic 10-step formula for easy and delicious chicken breasts, inspired by Jenny’s “Chicken Breast with Fresh Sage over on Food52:

  1. Pound out the chicken breasts just enough to make them more even in thickness.
  2. Marinate the chicken in lemon juice, olive oil, and whatever seasonings/spices/herbs you want – in the fridge – for 30 minutes.  The lemon juice actually tenderizes the chicken a bit and the spices in the marinade give you a head-start on the flavoring.
  3. After 30 minutes remove the chicken from the marinade, pat dry, and strain and reserve marinade.
  4. Place about a half stick of butter and enough olive oil to coat the bottom of your sauté pan.  Bring this mixture to a sizzle over medium heat, then add your chicken, rough side down first.
  5. As you’re cooking the chicken add more spices to your liking – at least salt and pepper.  Dizzy Pig’s Shakin’ the Tree, for example, does wonders to chicken.
  6. Cook the breasts attempting to flip just once, which, over medium heat, we have found to be about 12 minutes per side to be “done.”  But don’t go by time – USE AN INSTANT READ THERMOMETER.  We consider “done” to be around 160-165 in the thickest part (the temp will continue to rise after cooking, so that’s why we give a range here).
  7. When done, remove the breasts to a bowl and cover with foil.
  8. Still over medium heat, add the reserved marinade to the juices that remain in sauté pan and let it all cook down for a minute or so, then add some white wine or vodka (or whatever you typically like to use to deglaze a pan) to the sauté pan to deglaze, scraping the wonderful bits of flavor off the bottom of that pan until it’s as shiny as the Tin Man after the Wizard gave him a makeover.
  9. Plate the chicken alongside your favorite accompaniment, and pour the contents of the sauté pan over it.
  10. Serve immediately!

We plated this one by itself just to show it off a bit.  Jenny’s suggestion to use fresh sage was just wonderful.  Fresh sage has this subtle richness that plays very nicely with the lemon and butter.  And the reduction sauce – oh man – you could pour that over anything.  But, then again, how can you go wrong with browned butter?

What’s your favorite way to redeem the chicken breast?

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2 Responses to Redeeming the Chicken Breast

  1. Chris says:

    Gorgeous chicken breast and it sounds excellent. While I prefer grilling it is hard to beat a well executed pan sauce like this.

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