Chicken breasts, particularly boneless, skinless breasts, are the healthiest cut of chicken, but they can also be dry and flavorless if not prepared right. You might say that cooking chicken breasts is easy, and we agree. But getting them moist and tender all the time can be a problem.
No matter which cooking method you use, that is grilling, baking, or pan cooking them, there are two important steps you should always take.
Never Wash Or Rinse Your Meat With Water
Author Harold McGee in his book – “On Food and Cooking“ – explains that excess moisture on meat‘s surface thwarts the Maillard reaction, which is a chemical process that occurs when carbohydrate molecules react with amino acids, yielding that gives that brown color to the meat along with rich, complex flavors.
McGee says the Maillard reaction begins at approximately 230 degrees Fahrenheit, were as water turns to vapor at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, and washing the meat with water before cooking it simply won’t get hot enough to allow the Maillard reaction to occur.
That means a washed piece of meat won’t start browning until all the water is cooked off, and by that time your chicken breast may already be well done.
Marinating Your Meat
Making small crosswise slits on chicken breast no only helps the marinade penetrate the meat, which disperses the marinaded flavor throughout the meat and not just on the surface, but also helps the chicken cook evenly.
Also most marinades call for vinegar, which is a great meat tenderizer as well as cooking meat evenly and juicy.
Pound Chicken Breasts To An Even Thickness Before Cooking Them
This is a very important process to perform as each piece of chicken breast can be a different thickness or size. If you don’t pound them out, some breasts will cook faster than others, leaving the thinner breasts dried out, while the thicker ones can be under cooked.
Pounding also tenderizes the meat, making the meat more tender.
Tools For Tenderizing
When it comes to pounding your chicken breasts for an evenly cooked meat as well as tender and juicy, you can use a meat mallet.
But if you don;t have one you can also use a rolling pin, the back of a skillet or even the bottom of a mason jar.
Wrap the breasts in plastic wrap or wax paper, and pound until all the pieces are even in thickness, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness is ideal, but the important part is making sure the width is as uniform as possible.
Here are some of our favorite chicken breast recipes from our kitchen to yours.
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