Help a reforming vegetarian cook chicken breast
I am slowly beginning to incorporate a little free-range/pastured chicken from local sources back into my diet (after 20 years!) I have one pound of boneless chicken breasts. They do have skin. They are local and a heritage breed, meaning they may be slightly tougher but more flavorful than a supermarket bird.
What do I do with 'em? I know boneless breast isn't the greatest--as I recall, I prefer dark meat--but it's what was available. I was thinking something lemony, capery. or herby, or mushroomy? Something to let the flavor of the bird come through.
Also, cooking tips? I am nervous about knowing when it's done. I learned to cook as a vegetarian and have prepared very little meat in my life. I recall that chicken breast can be dryyyyy.
of course you can go the gourmet route with pounding the breasts (i like "chicken francese" myself), but i'll take you in a different direction with this suggestion. take the breasts and cut them into 1 ½ " strips -- then do an egg and flour dip with seasoned panko or other crumb coating, then fry in a shallow skillet with about an inch of peanut oil @ 350 F till "golden brown and delicious" -- then dip and snack in your own little bowl of a lemony aioli or your favorite dressing.
you can also grind it or finely chop it and make a thai "laab" salad -- very light and refreshing with the bright lime. alternatively, make thai chicken "ka prow" -- with chilies and thai basil….YUM http://www.food.com/recipe/ground-chi...
you can make quickie paella -- with cutting strips then cooking them with some yellow rice, capers, green olives and red bell peppers…..
I butterfly the breast, pound thin and season with salt and pepper and then do much of what alkapal does in the first suggestion, starting with flour, then beaten egg and then end with fresh bread crumbs. I fry in olive oil, then salt and pepper and serve with lemon wedges. Maybe I'll make that tonight..............
You can pan roast it and top up with a nice sauce. You can also cook a stew with lot's of veggies in it. What often do is, pan roast the chicken breast, place on the veggie and top up with a dressing or sauce. Try whisking some dijon with EVO and add a few drops of balsamic reduction. Very flavourful yet simple. If you don't mind the calorie, try Hollandaise sauce. Poach them and serve with Asian style dressing.
The main thing is to not overcook it. Chicken breast is bland enough to begin with.
Flattened out a bit, a dip in some seasoned flour (you don't even need to 'egg' it if you don't feel like), a quick saute (just a few minutes per side in clarified butter or olive oil, and a nice wine and balsamic reduction from the pan juices after draining the cooking fat makes for a nice use of the breast meat.
Overcooking it (even in a braise) renders it insipid and dry.
My B-12 has been low, so I thought, instead of a pill, just eat a little chicken here and there. In your same boat!
Chicken breast, to me, has no flavor, so I think you're smart to go with a tasty sauce. Linguafood's piccata suggestion is spot on.
OTOH if you just want a few shreds of chicken to sprinkle over your salad or mix into some grains or wrap up in a lettuce leaf, maybe have some poached on hand in the fridge or freezer.
Put the breasts in a pan with enough water to cover by about an inch, add leftover onion/celery/carrot peelings, a few whole peppercorns, maybe a bay leaf. No salt or a just tad. Bring to boil, covered. Turn off heat. Leave covered for 15-30 minutes. Check at 15 minutes because your chickens might be lean and cook quicker. Stick a knife into the thickest part to see if it's bloody. It can be pink but should not be raw. Leave a bit longer if it's not done.
Remove from pot. This is the easiest time to get the skin off. If you had bones, I'd suggest putting them back in the poaching liquid. Otherwise, boil the poaching liquid down probably a third to half. Strain out the veggies and/or bones.
When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken into individual portions, wrap in plastic and then foil and then in a freezer bag, stash in the freezer. Poaching liquid is great to make soup (chill, then skim fat off the top).
poaching is great for salads... personally i prefer to poach in chicken stock or a low sodium stock with onions, fennel, carrots, sometimes celery, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, bit of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. sometimes i chuck in a few lemon slices as well.
i've also poach in miso broth with scallions
or veggie broth with a little bragg's aminos (or tamari or soy), balsamic vinegar, onions and garlic
or veggie broth, onions, cumin, coriander, oregano, cayenne, garlic
If you're thinking lemony & capery, piccata is your best bet (and happens to be one of my favorite chicken breast preps). I use skinless breasts for it, but that doesn't mean you can't leave it on. Just make sure you pan-fry the breasts skin-side down first, so it gets nice and crispy.
Pounding the breast to make them thinner will also reduce the cooking time, which keeps the breasts from drying out. Stupid Bittman just had a big thing on paillards in the recent NYT magazine with many ideas for pounded cutlets if you wanna check it out.
So -- pan-fry the breasts in your fat of choice (I use butter & oil) until nice and browned, take 'em out of the pan, deglaze with a sploosh of white wine & a good squeeze of lemon, add capers (as many as you like), then mount the sauce with cold butter or a little cornstarch. Add the breasts back in and toss around in the sauce. Eat.
FWIW -- I've recently discovered kosher chicken breasts which are brined and thus super-juicy and less likely to dry out.