They’re convenient and, we’re told, more healthy. But there are few things quite as boring or more difficult to prepare well than boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
Here’s the problem: Chicken skin helps to keep the chicken moist, and the bones add flavor. Remove both and what do you have? The potential for dry, tasteless, tough chicken.
But not to worry. Here are two foolproof methods to prepare boneless, skinless chicken breasts (BSCB) so they come out tender and juicy every time — provided that you follow the instructions exactly.
This will be the method of choice if you are preparing BSCB for chicken salad or other recipes where you want perfectly prepared tender and moist, pure white chicken.
Place chicken breasts in a wide shallow pan with a lid and add enough chicken broth (or a combination of chicken broth and water) to cover the chicken by an inch or so.
Over medium heat, without covering the pan, bring the liquid in the pan just to a simmer. With a large spoon, move the chicken breasts around a bit to be sure each piece is completely surrounded by liquid.
When the liquid just begins to boil, cover the pan and immediately turn off the heat. Allow the covered pan to stand where it is on the stovetop, undisturbed, for 45 minutes. Do. Not. Peek.
Remove the chicken from the liquid (broth may be strained and frozen for future use). Note: You can use this method for chicken with skin and bones, both of which should be removed and discarded at this point.
The chicken is now fully cooked and moist throughout. Use it immediately or store tightly sealed in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for about three days to be used in any recipe — shredded, cut in chunks or any way you desire.
This method of cooking BSCB will result in beautifully cooked, flavorful meat that is lightly golden in color.
Pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness. You do not want them to be too thin but simply uniform in thickness. Place a breast between two pieces of waxed paper or plastic wrap, or in a resealable plastic bag. Starting in the center and working out to the edges, pound lightly with the flat side of a meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy pan until the chicken is even in thickness.
Mix 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper with 1/2 cup all-purpose flour.
Quickly dredge the chicken breasts in the flour so they are lightly dusted with flour.
Heat a saute pan that has a lid over medium-high heat. When it is quite hot, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 teaspoons of butter. Once melted, swirl the pan to coat the bottom evenly.
Reduce heat to medium. Add the chicken breasts. Cook for about 1 minute to help them get a little golden on one side — not long enough to actually sear or saute, only to heat them. Carefully turn over each chicken breast.
Reduce heat to low. Apply the lid. Set a timer for 10 minutes and walk away. Do not lift the lid; do not peek.
After 10 minutes, turn off the heat. Still, do not peek! Reset the timer for 10 minutes and leave the chicken breasts in the pan. Again, do not lift the lid; I repeat, do not peek.
When the second 10 minutes are up, take the lid off and behold the wonder: Soft, tender, juicy chicken breasts that are not dried out. Check to make sure there is no pink in the middle, especially if the breasts are thick. To be absolutely sure your chicken is cooked well, use an instant-read thermometer to check (the chicken should be at least 165 F). Slice, serve and enjoy!