How to cook a chicken breast
We love chicken breasts - the problem is that I don't really know how to cook them without a sauce properly - just a straight saute would be nice - plain chicken - I'm actually better with the fancier stuff than just a simple recipie. Could anyone give me a tip as to how to cook them without involving the smoke detector, burnt bits at the bottom and that awful dry texture that seems to appear whenever I cook them? Thank you so much!
Do you pound them flat first? I do that, marinate in buttermilk (or other liquids, whatever I have at home that would work, yogurt, eggs, milk). Bread in seasoned flour, pan fry on each side until done, remove from pan and keep warm. Use wine to deglaze (or I'll add chopped veggies first and cook them and then add wine). At this point, add whatever seasonings you want, marsala, lemon juice, butter, capers, etc. Simmer, add chicken breasts back and simmer a little. Or, you can partially cook the chicken, add it back after making the sauce and then put it in the oven. A lot of good variations but pounding them flat makes the difference. The burnt bits at the bottom make a good sauce.
Chicken breasts need sauce or marinade to cokk properly, the meat is too lean otherwise and will most probably always be disapointed. You don't need to use a lot of oil in your marinade though.
The trick with chicken breasts (whole or in strips) is to add a little braising liquid one you have browned the outside, it will cook the inside faster and keep it moist.
You can add water or stock for oven cooking. If you are sautéing strips, adding vegetables with high water content (onions or bok choi for example) will require less liquid, but make sure you do add some, or a bbq stykle sauce to get the process started. I hope my tips help you.
This may be of no help to you, but when I make chicken paprikash on the cooktop, the chicken is partially cooked in the oven first. The chicken is added to the paprikash ingredients already sauteed and simmered as the second to last ingredient for finishing. After the chicken has been throughly cooked, is removed from the sauce so that a mixture of sour cream and flour can be whisked into the sauce. Then the chicken is returned to the thickened sauce.
Just put the chicken breasts in a baking dish, place in a preheated at 325 degrees for between 20 and 30 minutes. It may be necessary to add some water to prevent the breasts from drying out.
Try them on the grill. This recipe is sooooo easy and delicious. Marinate boneless, skinless breast halves in olive oil and lime juice (2:1 ratio) and whatever combination of herbs, dried or fresh you like. I often use dried tarragon, chopped garlic and oregano. Mix the marinade and put it into a ziploc bag. Salt and pepper the chicken, put it in the bag, zip it up, and distribute the marinade over the chicken. Lay it flat at room temp for 20 minutes or in the fridge for an hour or two, turning every so often. Cook on the grill (oil the grates first) over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes per side. Or, if you want to cook indoors, use the broiler, but preheat it first.
Sounds like your heat is too high, for starters, if you're ending up with burned bits and a dry texture. Chicken breasts cook very quickly...just a few minutes per side...so don't walk away from the pan. A marinade will also help to stave off dryness, and pounding to an even thickness (as mentioned by another poster) helps them to cook evenly & quickly. Sautes are great...simple seasonings go a long way, and you can deglaze the pan once the chicken is cooked with various liquids (fruit juice, leftover wine, chi broth, a squeeze of lemon), toss in your favorite fresh herbs and a pat of butter, and you'll have a great, simple reduction sauce to spoon over the chicken, side veggies, or accompanying starch.
re: Hungry Celeste
Really great suggestions - thank you! I am actually bookmarking this page so I can try them all - I only started cooking a few years ago and I am definitely much better at baking than cooking...the cooking usually involves some sort of smoke and some sort of burnt and some sort of yuck! Thanks again-