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What's wrong with my chicken?

I tried to cook chicken milanese last night. However, the end result was very dry. I took the internal temperature multiple times, but when it reached the desired 165 degrees, it ended up tasting too dry. What did I do wrong? What can I do next time so that the chicken doesn't turn out too dry?

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  1. How did you prepare it? If you walk us through each step of the preparation, we may be able to better help you trouble-shoot it. (I know it's sacrilege on this Board, but I don't use a thermometer to test doneness -- just time and a general sense of how the food should look & feel.)

    1 Reply
    1. re: masha

      I used Gwyneth Paltrow's chicken milanese recipe because it seemed fairly straightforward. Here's what I did:

      1) I put the chicken breasts in between two sheets of wax paper and pounded them with a mallet, until they were thin.

      **this is where there may have been a problem. I'd never pounded chicken breasts before, and I think they still might have been too thick.***

      2) I dipped each chicken breast in milk

      3) Then, I dredged each chicken breast in panko bread crumbs.

      4) I heated 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet.

      5) Then I cooked the chicken until it was done

    2. I'm guessing the carry over raised it to a higher temp while resting.

      1. I agree with Masha, I don't check temperature (unless it's something like a whole chicken or roast beef, etc). You mention taking the internal temperature multiple times. When you poke a thermometer into meat (especially multiple times), the juices run out, leaving you with tough, dry meat.

        With thinner pieces of meat, I find it's easier to get used to how it springs back when you poke it with your index finger. It takes practice, but it's a much more accurate (and less damaging) way of testing when the meat is done.

        Also, keep in mind that chicken will continue to cook when it rests out of the pan, so if it read 165 in the skillet, it probably jumped up another 5-7 degrees while resting.

        For next time, I'd try dialing back your cooking time about 5 minutes, and then letting it rest a good 5 minutes or so out of the pan. If you cut into it and it's underdone, you can always throw it back in. But give it a few pokes along the way to familiarize yourself with how chicken feels as it gets to the point of doneness.

        5 Replies
        1. re: EggyEggoo

          I pulled the chicken out when it was 155 degrees because I read it would continue cooking after I took it out of the pan.

          1. re: EggyEggoo

            For sauteed breaded chicken breasts, I would typically let them cook about 8 minutes total (4 minutes per side) on a medium-to-medium high setting. So long as your heat is not too high, basically, once each side is a deep golden color, they are done. This is especially so if the chicken will rest for a few minutes while you make a sauce.

            Also, instead of pounding boneless breasts, I typically use a sharp knife to cut them in two horizontally -- i.e., moving the knife parallel to the cutting surface, so that I end up with 2 thinner cutlets from each 1 breast.

            1. re: EggyEggoo

              So, if the chicken's done will it spring back when you poke it?

              How do I tell it's underdone? Is it by cutting into it and making sure it's not pink?

              1. re: EggyEggoo

                Any details on what you're looking for with the poke method? I know it's probably hard to describe as you mention.

                1. re: fldhkybnva

                  The chicken firms up as it cooks. You'll learn from experience, as you practice. And, as I mentioned up-thread, the appearance of the chicken + the clock help you determine done-ness. Provided that the chicken breast is sufficiently thin, it should be done when cooked for about 4 minutes per side on medium high heat, with a deep golden brown color.

              2. could be your thermometer is off, but yes, please walk us through the steps of prep and cooking.

                also: i find the usda temp recs simply too high and i rarely use a thermometer

                1. I honestly think 165 is too high for chicken. I know that's what "they" say you should cook it to, but for me, that always results in dry chicken. I pull it off at around 140.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: juliejulez

                    It did seem done at 140, but since it was my 1st time cooking chicken like this, I was so worried about undercooking and giving everyone salmonella.

                    1. re: juliejulez

                      This is the best advice here.

                      Overcooking poultry breast meat (cooking to 165 degrees F) yields dry meat every time.

                      Instead, shoot for a final temperature of 150 degrees F. This will give you perfectly safe and very juicy breast meat.

                      And as for the belief that poking whole cuts of meat, such as chicken breast, with a thermometer probe or other piercing object will cause the juices to run out and leave you with dry meat . . . humbug. It's a myth. It's not true. Any juices lost will be localized to the area of the puncture. The rest of the meat will stay plenty juicy. So, fear not. Check your temps early and often. Or, even better (if the method allows), simply use a probe thermometer: set the desired temperature, walk away, then pull it when it beeps.