• Campbell Whitman

Boneless, Skinless, Chicken Breast Perfection

Chicken is definitely my go-to meat-of-choice for family meal time. It's the perfect meaty addition to any kind of meal and always a crowd pleaser. I love the texture, I love the taste and I love how it takes a marinade. But boneless, skinless chicken breasts can dry out quickly and make your meal less yummy if you don't learn a few tips first on how to cook them. And the first tip is use a marinade for the love of God! It allows the meat to be properly tenderized, well-flavored and show off your kitchen skills at the same time. #winning


I find that a 24 to 48-hour marinade works wonders, but even if you marinate something in the morning and use it for dinner that night, you have already scored flavor points.

BEFORE you marinate them, you must learn the first step! Nowadays, chicken breasts can be quite large. Some breasts also have the tenderloin still attached underneath. It's like a flap that is connected on the bottom side only. You can easily cut that off and marinate it as well. It can also be cooked with this technique, but for 1/3 of the time and see the same results. After taking off the "chicken tender," if the breasts are still thicker than 2,5 cm (1 inch), you can pound your chicken breast a little to flatten it out, or you can increase the cooking time 30 seconds to a minute per side depending on the height. If your chicken breasts are smaller than 2,5 cm (1 inch) your cooking time will be shorter per side. Sometimes I only pound out the thicker side of the breast if it's a dramatic difference in thickness to the thinner side. Other times I do nothing at all.


In the photo above, you see three marinated chicken breasts. Oddly enough, they are all just about 2,5 cm (1 inch) thick, just! So, I didn't have to pound out these breasts. I cooked them as is. If yours are the same, skip the pounding part that follows. If they are not this thickness, and you wish to do the 3 minute per side recipe that I use here, keep reading.


In order to pound out your chicken, you will want to lay it flat on a cutting board and flick or rub a little bit of water over it. Then cover it with plastic wrap or a plastic bag. Gently pound them out a little closer to the 2,5 cm height with a mallet. If you do not have one, you can use a giant butchers knife (and lay it flat when you smack it), an oven baking dish or anything else flat, solid and not breakable that you can control the weight of. This technique has been tested on chicken breasts that are around a specific height, because it's the height I find the most common in my supermarkets.


Once the pounding is complete, you can place them in a marinade and store them away for up to 48 hours in the fridge.


On the day you wish to eat the chicken, please remove it from the fridge for up to an hour before putting it in the pan, so it becomes room temperature. This allows the meat to ease into its cooking heat. When the chicken is cold and it hits the hot oil, it can tense up the meat, IMMEDIATELY making it tougher. Not yummy!


You also want to cook on a medium/medium-low heat, with a heavier-bottomed pan. If it's a thin-bottomed pan, this can overcook the chicken and make the juices evaporate, almost guaranteeing a dryer, tougher chicken breast. You cook it on both sides with a lid the whole time, flipping it once, keeping all of the moisture in the pan. That's it!


LET"S BEGIN!

With a couple of tablespoons of oil in the heavier-bottomed, warm (medium heat) pan, lay your chicken breast down and cover with a lid. You should also let some of the marinade into the pan to keep the moisture high. After 3 minutes, you will see the sides of the chicken becoming cooked, as a pale creamy color forms where the raw, pinker color once was. When the creamier, cooked color begins to come around to the sides (3 minutes), flip it and cover again. Let it cook another 3 minutes. Remove it and have ready a bowl with a plate that completely acts as a lid. set chicken inside and cover. This allows the piece of chicken to finish cooking without overcooking from the direct heat of the pan and keeps the juices in the bowl, thus moisture inside the chicken as well.


You see, once being taken off the heat, the chicken acts as its own oven; which helps it finish cooking on it own. I leave it in the bowl for 5 minutes with the plate on top and then it's not only done, it's moist, hot, tender and NOT overcooked! Once all the chicken is cooked, depending on how I am serving it, you can cut the chicken into strips and then make cubes by cutting through said strips and toss it in a meal. You can also leave them whole, simply setting them on a plate on the table to be stabbed with a fork and taken to an eater's plate. The juices in the bottom of the bowl are golden! DO NOT throw that away! It can be thrown into your pasta/noodle sauce to add flavor, or be stirred into any other pan sauce that will be spooned atop the meat if you desire. You could even use it at the end of the sautéing process of any vegetables you may be serving along with the meal. It's more flavor!


I hope this recipe doesn't seem complicated because it is a long post, my longest so far. I am thinking I should consider making a video to show you all just how simple it really is... until then...give these marinades a go!


Standard Chicken Marinade

6 chicken breasts (about 1 kg/2 pounds)

50 ml (about 1/4 c) olive oil

1 lemon zested and juiced

1/2 t salt

1/4 t pepper


Garlic Chicken Marinade

6 chicken breasts (about 1 kg/2 pounds)

15 g crushed garlic

50 ml (about 1/4 c) olive oil

1 T dried thyme

1 lemon zested and juiced

1/2 t salt

1/4 t pepper


Curry Masala Chicken Marinade

3 chicken breasts (about 500g/1 pound)

1 c yogurt or 1/2 can coconut milk (well shaken)

1 T curry masala

1 T turmeric powder

1/2 lime-zest & jus

2 T minced ginger

2 garlic cloves-pressed

s&p


Miso Chicken Marinade

3 chicken breasts (about 500g/1 pound)

2 T miso paste

1 T rice wine vinegar

1 T soy sauce

1 T sesame oil

1 T sake

2 garlic cloves-pressed

pepper-NO salt