Help with chicken that sticks to pan
I have a 3.5 qt Le Creuset braiser/casserole that I am still mastering. I so far have used it mostly for Chicken Piccata and pan roasted chicken with a sauce. My dilemma is that when I am cooking the chicken (breasts), it tends to stick to the pan and I lose alot of the exterior when I turn it. The chicken breasts themselves never really brown. I am heating the pan on high with olive oil in it, then placing the floured chicken in the pan. By the time the chicken is cooked through and I remove it to make a sauce, what is left in the pan is quite crispy, unlike an evenly browned chicken that I get when I use my nonstick skillet which has fond in the pan but not all of the chicken left behind. What am I doing wrong? Temp? time? Of course, it still tastes delicious but I feel I am browning/braising the chicken wrong.
The problem plain and simple is that the oil and/or butter in your pan is not hot enough before you add the chicken. Test heat level by tossing in a bit of chopped onion. It should be sizzling HOT before you put meat in. And then LEAVE the chicken - no nudging it around - until the pan-side surface has seared. After one side is seared, only then do you flip or slide it around the pan. Other comments here (patting dry, dredging, deglazing are all helpful and will improve your dish, but the specific problem of sticking meat is specifically one of inadequate heat. Try the onion test - You will be surprised how HOT it has to be before that bit sizzles.
Once you put your blotted-dry chicken breasts in the hot, oiled pan, do not touch the breasts for a few minutes. Don't jerk the pan either. Just let it cook. Once enough of the breast has cooked, the pieces should turn easily without sticking. If you jerk the pan, you loosen some bits, but what you want is for the flesh to be a coherent whole (or it'll stick). You can test the chicken after a few minutes with a spatula, and if it seems to resist turning, let it cook a bit longer.
Your chicken breasts are skinless? They should be.
Your chicken breasts are blotted dry, then dredged in flour, the excess flour is shaken off before putting the pieces in the pan?
Oil (or combination of oil and butter) are sizzling when the chicken is placed in the pan?
You use about 1 tablespoon of oil for each chicken breast?
The breasts are browned for about three minutes on each side before setting aside on a plate?
You then deglaze the pan with acidic ingredient (lemon juice) and scrape fond from the bottom of the pan before introducing the final combination of ingredients?
If the answer is "yes" to all of those questions I'm at a loss as to what might be causing your problem.
Here's how I roast chicken breasts:
And for chicken or any other kind of piccata, I pound it quite thin, flour lightly and saute. Neither of these gets cooked in the type pan you describe. I didn't think one could get fond in a nonstick skillet.
Take a look at the above recipe and report back how it differs from what you're doing. BTW, piccata cooks in about five minutes and the sauce take another couple of minutes. At least how I cook it.