Chicken | Cooking Tips

How-To Cook Chicken Breast Properly

Cooking chicken breast isn’t terribly difficult to do, yet some people have difficulty creating a tender, juicy cooked chicken. Following a few simple do’s and don’ts will make cooking chicken breast properly incredibly easy. 

Chicken soup, chicken chili, chicken stew, grilled chicken, fried chicken, and chicken salad! Chicken made just about any way can be pretty darn tasty. It is versatile and has been known to be a fine substitute for almost every other type of meat.

Besides being yummy and versatile, eating chicken is good for your health. Americans consume an average of 60 pounds of chicken a year!

If you have implemented a healthy eating plan, chicken is probably a staple in your diet. And it should be! Chicken is full of nutrients that are essential to a healthy body, while being lower in fats and cholesterol than other meats. If you are eating for health, chicken breast is king. The white meat of the bird is chock-full of nutrients that are good for your heart, immune system, and stress levels.

Now, no one is saying everything is pure bliss in the land of chicken breast consumption. We’ve all have had our share of lackluster, tough, insipid chicken breast cuisine.

Refresh your know-how with these do’s and don’ts of cooking chicken breast.

You Don’t HAVE to Go Skinless and Boneless

Contrary to popular opinion, boneless and skinless is not always the best. Sadly, it’s a common mistake that some health seekers make. It’s tough to maintain a healthy diet of chicken breast on the long term when it’s repeatedly dry, bland, and stringy. You don’t have to eat the skin. If you’re not a fan or don’t want the extra fat, simply remove the skin before eating. Both the bone and the skin help to keep the breast moist as it cooks. Being so lean as it is, chicken breast needs all the help it can get to retain its moisture.

If you are going to use boneless, skinless chicken breast, coat it with breadcrumbs or something else to help keep it from drying out. This Parmesan Crusted Chicken from ThatsLowCarb is the perfect example of how to cook chicken breast properly!

Don’t Be a Chicken Breast Martyr

There, you’ve gone and done it again. Tonight’s roast chicken is dry as a bone and stringy enough to make a straw hat. Ouch. Unfortunately, this is a common pitfall. Just don’t turn yourself off to the wealth of health chicken offers. All is not lost. Take that chicken and make a salad! Infuse it with moisture in the form of a pan sauce or dressing. Turn it into a pulled chicken chili using a great chicken base. Add some beans and bam, more protein. There are solutions aplenty. Just please, don’t eat tough chicken.

Don’t Poach That Breast

Poaching chicken breast is old-school. Roast your chicken. Roasting concentrates and intensifies the flavor of any food. The perfect temperature for roasted chicken is 375˚F. And if you are particularly picky, try searing it in a skillet with the skin side down before roasting. This ensures maximum moisture entrapment, resulting in exquisitely moist and tasty chicken breast. Trust me, it’s worth the extra work.

Cooking chicken breast properly requires beating the chicken!

The biggest inherent physical flaw of chicken breast is its uneven thickness. Either the thick end is perfect and the thin side overcooked or the thin side is perfect and the thick end is still raw. The solution is found in a little pounding and flattening, best done with a meat mallet or even a rolling pin. You should end up with a tidy chicken piece of uniform thickness that will cook evenly.

OXO Good Grips Meat Mallet and Tenderizer
My favorite Meat Mallet / Tenderizer – Click photo for info!

Do Use a Marinade

Marinades and rubs boost the flavor of any piece of meat and are perfect for chicken breast. Aromatics like ginger, garlic, brown sugar, lemon, and salt do wonderful things. Many of these common marinade ingredients tenderize and add moisture in addition to flavor.

Do Slice Against the Grain

At any point in the cooking process, if you’re going to slice your chicken, go against the grain. This means slicing your chicken breast in the direction that makes a shorter chicken piece. All meats are made of bundles of muscle fibers and cutting across them means tender, softer chicken morsels. Be sure to use a carving knife or my preference, a chef’s knife, to do the job done efficiently.

With these simple tips under your belt, you will never again be guilty of cooking chicken breast improperly.

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