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Jun 10, 2010 12:58 AM

Saute Chicken Breast Method?

I have been doing a lot of chicken recieps lately where you saute the chicken breast in the pan then remove and build a reduction sauce. But I am having problems. I am still very new to cooking only about a year or so, please forgive.

If I do something like Chicken Picatta, I pound it thin before cooking, brown and retrn it to the pan for a minute or two after I build the sauce and it comes out great. But if I try do something like a Chicken Marsala with the whole breast it alwasy seems to come out dry or without flavor from the sauce even if the sauce taste great.

I have seen some chefs on TV saute in a pan and then finish in the oven. Is this the secret to to moistness and flavor? Dose covering the saute pan on the stove and simmer do the same thing?

My usual MO is like this:

Saute 4 min each side till golden brown, remove, build sauce, reduce, return chicken, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove chicken, reduce sauce and serve.

I dont want to pound every pice of chicken I eat, any ideas?

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  1. Dry means you're overcooking it. As you're waiting for the center to cook, the outside is drying out.

    Things you can try: bringing meat to room temp; pounding or slicing into thinner pieces; covering the pan, which increases the rate of heat transfer AND helps cook your meat more evenly.

    Early salting will also help with dryness and flavor.

    Certainly, the 10 minutes of simmering in a covered pan seems a tad too long for me...

    1. When I pound each chicken breast, I would brown them for 2 minutes on each side only.
      And I would turn the heat on low when simmering for about 5-7 minutes in the sauce.

      I have been on a grilled lemon chicken kick and I pound the chicken (after I marinate it) breast and grill on medium-high for 3 minutes on each side. At that point they are completely cooked, so I agree, your chicken is overcooked.

      1. Your basic technique looks OK, except that you may be sauteeing too long. Try searing in a hotter pan for a shorter time. Make sure the chicken breast is dry on both sides, then heat up an iron pan over high heat. Give the chicken a light coat of vegetable oil then sear for 1.5 minutes per side. The breast has an outer side, which touches the skin, and an inner side which touches the bone; you'll get a better crust on both sides if you sear the outer side first. After you build your sauce, simmer the chicken for maybe only 5 minutes.

        As Jaykayen says salting and seasoning ahead of time works wonders.

        1 Reply
        1. re: RealMenJulienne

          Another option is to cook at a lower heat for longer - this should result in a more tender chicken breast than the high heat method.

          Also, i wouldn't make chix marsala with whole breast - it should be pounded out.

          If you don't want to pound chicken, and are making the dish with whole breast, i would definitely go for an oven roast. Cooking a whole breast through on a skillet usually doesn't work well.

        2. I would only do the salting suggestions if you are willing/able to do it the "Zuni Cafe way" and do it 2-3 days ahead of time. (Or, at the VERY least 1 day)
          You could also try brining, which as Cooks Illustrated says, will give you a "bigger window of juicyness".

          That said, when I make chicken marsala I usually haven't planned ahead enough to do either of the above and this version has never failed me -

          1. Wow, great suggestion guys, thanks, I think I have a little more experimenting to do. I am guessing my pan is not hot enough like someone suggested and over cookin with the top on as well.