Not all chicken breasts are created equal. Some are organic, others are air-chilled, some are all natural, and the rest are from what I call lab chickens. Lab chickens and ordinary chicken meat products come from poultry raised on factory-like farms. Organic, free-range, and chemical-free chicken is the way to go, in my opinion. If you don’t trust your butchery skills, buy boneless rather than throw out half the package weight in skin and bone.
Your choice comes down to skin on, or skin off. Just keep in mind that the reason chicken breast meat tends to dry out is because it has no fat. The skin has fat. So when you’re cooking it, the fat from the skin will baste the breast, add some flavor and lubricate the meat. And you can always discard the skin before serving, unless you’re like me and prize crispy chicken skin as a snack.
Thick chicken breasts don’t always cook evenly, so you want to make the breasts thinner by butterflying them with a chef knife. Cut the breast in half horizontally, opening it up like a book, or cut it into two thinner pieces.
How do you know when chicken is fully cooked? The color is opaque, and if you poke the meat, it burns your finger. If the meat is hot enough to burn your finger, it’s done. Also, the juices run clear, not red or pink.
QUICK CHICKEN RECIPES
Grill it: Sprinkle the breasts with adobo seasoning. Grill on both sides. Brush heavily with chimichurri toward the end and before serving. For chimichurri, stick the following in a food processor and blend: 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 a chopped red bell pepper, salt, pepper, a little thyme, parsley and oregano (fresh is best, but use dry if you don’t have fresh).
Put it in a skillet: Cook a diced onion with a dozen sliced mushrooms and a little olive oil until the onion is translucent (7-10 mins). Add 1 tsp of dijon mustard, salt, pepper, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 tsp of curry powder and 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Add 4 chicken breasts. Put lid over skillet and simmer/steam until chicken is cooked through. Serve over rice, potatoes or steamed cauliflower.
Bake it in the oven: Oven-frying is easy and healthy. Sprinkle the meat with adobo seasoning, dredge your breasts in flour, then through a bowl with a couple of scrambled raw eggs, then through a bowl of Italian bread crumbs. Put the breasts on a baking sheet with non-stick aluminum foil. Spray the breasts with cooking spray and bake at 400 for 20-30 minutes.
Oven or skillet: Oven-fry the chicken as per instructions above. While you’re doing that, put a little olive oil in a non-stick skillet and sauté two dozen cherry tomatoes, fresh chopped basil, and a handful of salted roasted cashews just until the cherry tomatoes are hot and the skins are seared. Serve on top of chicken with salt and pepper and sprinkle with clumps of goat cheese.
Skillet: This dish is great when served alongside angel-hair pasta. Dice an onion, cook it until translucent with a little olive oil. Add two diced tomatoes, 3 cloves of minced garlic, a few olives of your choices, 6 capers, a little oregano and fresh basil (fresh or dry), salt and pepper. Add 2 chicken breasts and cook until the chicken is done.
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