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 (BSCBs).
Here's the problem: Chicken skin helps 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 BSCBs so they come out tender every time — provided you follow these instructions exactly.
This will be the method of choice if you are preparing BSCBs 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 that has a lid, and add enough chicken broth (or a combination of chicken broth and water) to completely cover the chicken by an inch or so.
Over medium heat and without covering the pan, bring the liquid in the pan to a simmer. With a large spoon, move the chicken breasts around a bit to be sure each is completely surrounded by liquid.
When the liquid just begins to boil, cover the pan, and immediately turn off the heat. Allow the pan to stand 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 in the process.
The chicken will then be fully cooked and moist throughout. It may be used immediately or stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for about three days and used in any recipe — shredded, cut in chunks or any way you desire.
This method of cooking BSCBs 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 — simply uniform 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 just lightly dusted with flour. Heat a saute pan that has a lid over medium-high heat. When it is quite hot, add 3 tablespoons olive oil and 2 teaspoons butter. Once melted, swirl the pan to coat the bottom evenly.
Reduce heat to medium. Add the chicken breasts. Cook for about one 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, and 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. Make sure there is no pink in the middle, especially if the breasts are thick. If you want to be absolutely sure your chicken is cooked well, use an instant-read thermometer to check (the chicken should be at least 165 degrees F). Slice, serve and enjoy!
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.