Boneless chicken breasts are a staple for any time-pressed cook’s kitchen because they’re quicker to cook than bone-in chicken breasts.
Chicken breasts are susceptible to drying out, so they’re best cooked quickly using high heat. That means skillet-cooking, stir-frying, roasting, or grilling chicken breasts are the best routes. Skillet-cooking is particularly easy because you can make a sauce in the same pan.
How to Saute (Skillet-Cook) Chicken Breasts
It’s best to choose a quick method that won’t dry them out. We fried this chicken with asparagus and bacon in a skillet.
When it comes to cooking boneless chicken breasts, the terms “saute,” “pan-fry,” and “skillet-cook” all refer to the same basic preparation: Cooking chicken breasts in a skillet in a small amount of fat (such as cooking oil, olive oil, or butter) or in a skillet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
- Select a heavy skillet that can accommodate the chicken breasts in one layer. If the skillet is too large, pan juices can burn; if the skillet is too small, the overcrowded chicken will steam instead of brown.
- If a chicken breast is significantly thicker in some parts than others, consider pounding it with a meat mallet to even it out.
- Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with salt and ground black pepper to taste.
- If the skillet is not nonstick, lightly coat it with nonstick cooking spray or 2 to 3 teaspoons cooking oil.
- Preheat the skillet over medium-high heat until hot.
- Place the chicken in the skillet. Do not add any liquid and do not cover the skillet.
- Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the meat is no longer pink and the juices run clear. This should take 8 to 12 minutes. As the chicken cooks, turn it occasionally so it browns evenly. If the poultry browns too quickly, reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Chicken breasts are done when the meat is no longer pink and the juices run clear (170 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer). Try not to overcook chicken breasts, as the meat can become stringy and dry.
How to Broil Chicken Breasts
- Brush your chicken with oil or seasoning, or try out a chicken breast marinade before broiling. Marinating prevents the chicken breasts from drying out. You can also remove the pan before the last few minutes of broiling, brush with a sauce, and continue cooking. For broiled BBQ chicken breasts, brush with barbecue sauce.
- Preheat the broiler, then insert the pan so the chicken breasts are 4 to 5 inches from the heat.
- Broil 4- to 5-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts 12 to 15 minutes, turning over about halfway through the cooking time and brushing with sauce or seasoning if desired.
- Remove chicken when it reaches 170 degrees F and is no longer pink
- YIELD 4 servings
- TIME 20 minutes
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts(about 2 1/4 pounds)
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 6 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
- 4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon, or 2 teaspoons dried tarragon
- 8 ripe plum tomatoes cut into small cubes (or one 28-ounce can of tomatoes, drained and chopped)
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup drained capers
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
- Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil and butter in a heavy-bottom skillet. Add the chicken breasts and saute over medium-high heat, turning the pieces often until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
- Add the shallots and garlic around the chicken. Cook briefly; add the tarragon, tomatoes, vinegar, capers, wine and tomato paste. Stir to dissolve the brown particles adhering to the bottom of the skillet.
- Blend well, bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer for 9 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Jim Wilson/The New York Times