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:
- Pound out the chicken breasts just enough to make them more even in thickness.
- 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.
- After 30 minutes remove the chicken from the marinade, pat dry, and strain and reserve marinade.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- When done, remove the breasts to a bowl and cover with foil.
- 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.
- Plate the chicken alongside your favorite accompaniment, and pour the contents of the sauté pan over it.
- 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?