This is a recipe that can stand on its own even though it may seem to simple to taste as good as it does, but it is. You can do almost anything with this chicken all it takes is your imagination and the ingredients you probably already have in your house.
If you are uncomfortable with cooking chicken afraid you will over cook it and it will be dry and/or rubbery, there are some very simple steps you can take to avoid these all too common situations.
The most Critical is picking the right cut of chicken and prepping it properly:
Boneless, skinless chicken thighs may have a bad rap because it is dark meat and said to be fatty. With the skin and any visible fat removed, it is really not that much more fatty than chicken breasts. They have a TON more flavor and because it has a little fat in it, it is a more forgiving cut when cooking.
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are perfectly fine if you really don’t like dark meat, as long as you take the steps to make sure that all the pieces are the same thickness. For a chicken breast, this is easily accomplished and actually gives your more servings. What i do, is about 1/2 way down the breast, where it starts to narrow, I cut the breast in half. Then I take the fat half, and cut it in half thickness wise. So you end up with about 3 palm sized pieces approx. the same thickness. This will help make sure that when you cook them, they all cook at the same speed and they will cook faster than the full breast.
Chicken Tenders by default are boneless and skinless. They are a strip removed from chicken breasts and have the same fat content of chicken breasts. I typically just leave these as is. They too have a fat end that tapers off, but not as significant as the breast.
In addition to choosing the right cut, other steps can be taken to make sure a juicy result. While these are not included in the below recipe, they are pretty easy to incorporate but do require advanced preparation.
Marinade chicken responds very well to flavors and do benefit from marinating as some of the moisture is drawn into the chicken. To get a good result the chicken needs to marinate for 2 hours at a minimum. I prefer over night as I can assemble it all in a zip lock bag while dinner is cooking and toss it in the fridge. Just be sure to release as much air out of the zip lock bag before sealing so the chicken is surrounded. If I remember, I flip the bag over before i go to bed so the liquid squishes around and remixed.
Brine the chicken over night. A basic bring is a mixture of salt, sugar and water (you can add other spices and herbs as well). During the brining process the chicken will suck in extra liquid (and salt and a hint of the seasoning) which helps to produce a very juicy chicken. When you remove the chicken from the brine, rinse it under cold water and pat dry.
Finally – its all in the wrist… well sort of. Here are a few tips for cooking chicken
Temperature of the PAN – It is soo tempting to leave the burner on high as doesn’t it cook faster? NO – it burns faster. You can use High heat to heat the pan/grill pan to get it nice and hot. But lower to med-high or even medium once you add the chicken. You will have more control.
Temperature of the Chicken – invest a couple of dollars on a meat thermometer. You know the stick kind found in every grocery store Kitchen isle? They don’t cost much and will help you learn to gauge what the chicken feels like and looks like when its done. Chicken needs to be at 165 degrees when placed in the thickest part before serving But take it off at 160 degree (you will notice some of the juice runs out when you remove the thermometer if it is all clear, the chicken is done. If it is rosy or red – keep going). It will continue to cook. If you wait until the it reaches 165 before removing from the grill, it’s over cooked and you risk drying it out.
Letting it REST! Once you remove the chicken from the pan, place on a dish and very loosely cover with tin foil. this is called tenting. It keeps the heat in while the chicken rests and the juices flow back into the meat. The chicken will continue to cook for about 5 minutes after you remove it from the heat. DON’T be tempted to cut into it for at least 5 minutes. I know its hard to resist, especially if you are hungry, but WAIT. Cutting in too early you lose all of the juice you worked soo hard to get right.
Now on to the easiest chicken recipe you can find. And it is yummy!
SIMPLE SAUTÉED CHICKEN
- 1 package Skinless Chicken Tenders (about 6-8 pieces) or whatever chicken cut you chose – works on all of them
- 1/2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Kosher Salt
- Pepper, Fresh Ground
1 10-12 inch non-stick Sauté Pan OR Grill Pan
1 pair non-stick tongs
- Toss the chicken tenders with the olive oil, a few pinches of salt and pepper
- Heat the pan over med-high heat until the pan is very hot
- In batches, place 4 chicken tenders in the pan (it will splatter so be sure to wear your apron), and let sear 3 – 4 minutes until the chicken releases from the pan and the bottom is browned.
- Flip the chicken and cook another 3 minutes. Check to make sure the chicken is at 160 degrees and remove the chicken to a platter and tent with tin foil.
- Repeat with remaining chicken tenders. **If the pan is starting to burn from the previous batch, add about a 1/2 cup of water to rinse out the pan before you start the next batch
Eat as is – or use one of the MANY combinations for dinners that contain chicken.
IDEAS (also great for any left over chicken)
- Cobb, Chopped or Caesar Salad topped with Chicken (any salad really)
- Chicken Salad with diced onion, celery, pickles, mayo
- Chicken Sandwich with avocado spread, lettuce, tomato, onion
- Chicken burritos with rice and beans
- Chicken Tacos toss with some taco seasoning (Tex-Mex / Mexican Spice Blend)
- Chicken with dipping sauces – Barbecue, Asian, Curry
- Add different herbs and spices before sautéing
- Stir Fry
When re-heating chicken, you still want to keep it moist. So how? Remove from the fridge about 30 – 40 minutes before reheating to bring it to room temp. then try any of the below.
- Dicing it up and adding it to a sauce or stir-fry a minute or two before serving
- Tossing with some hot chicken broth (just enough to cover the bottom of the pan)
- Adding a little extra virgin olive oil to a pan over medium heat and gently stirring/tossing until just warmed (about 2 minutes)
- If you need to, you can use the microwave, but no more than 25 – 30 seconds to start, then 10 seconds after that as needed on power level 7.