Sunday, July 3, 2011

Chicken Breast: Master Cooking Lesson

This basic technique for cooking boneless, skinless chicken breast works just as well for other meats/fishes, such as salmon fillets, boneless pork chops or turkey breast cutlets.
The concept is simple and virtually foolproof for stovetop, one-pan cooking. For most meals, I'll add a steamed green vegetable such as broccoli and crusty bread. If you prefer, substitute a green salad and/or some rice or potatoes.
Step 1: Brown chicken on each side

Simply put: preheat a large frying pan (I use nonstick for easy cleanup) over medium-high heat, adding cooking spray or a bit of canola oil when the pan heats up. Season your meat/fish on both sides with salt and pepper, then brown one one side for 3-4 minutes. Turn and brown the other side for 2 minutes. (Step 1)
Remove chicken to a plate and tent with foil.
Reduce heat to medium and add a cup or two of chopped veggies -- many possibilities here. Be sure to include one or two aromatic vegetables, by which I mean onion, garlic, shallots, leeks, carrot or celery. Also good to add at this stage are sliced mushrooms, chopped fennel and/or diced peppers. Stir-fry for 4-5 minutes, until the veggies are tender.
Step 2: Remove chicken, cook veggies
(Step 2)
Now add your liquid ingredients for more flavor and to blend the flavors in the pan. Chicken stock is my standard, but you can experiment with orange juice, tomato juice, white wine or even water. Heat the sauce through, then put the chicken back in the pan along with any juices that have accumulated in the plate. (Step 3)
Step 3: Add liquid, then return chicken to pan

Finally, if you have one large piece of meat, I'd recommend slicing it on top of the veggies on a serving platter. Be sure to adjust seasonings before you remove the food from your pan, adding more salt and pepper to taste.
 (Step 4)
Step 4: Serve!

As I noted, this technique is great not only for chicken but for almost any protein-based, simply sauced meal you can cook in a frying pan.

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