I know Turkey is top of mind this month but Chicken is the number one protein for American Meat Eaters! Not only is it a healthier choice than Beef but check out so many other reasons to reduce your Beef intake https://www.peta.org/living/food/top-10-reasons-eat-cows/.
The issue with Chicken is cooking it properly! It is either to dry, has no taste or worst case scenario if handled incorrectly can make you sick! Between working in commercial kitchens and cooking as a Personal Chef I have developed some tricks over the years to ensure flavorful and moist Chicken Breasts.
1. Carryover cooking is a huge issue with Chicken Breasts! Safe internal temperature for Chicken Breasts is 165°. Two key issues here, so many home cooks don’t use a thermometer, it’s a must and pull the Chicken at 160° as it will continue to cook.
2. Dry Brine it is worth the time. Remove Chicken from package one day prior to cooking. Pat it dry and place on foiled lined baking sheet then sprinkle both sides generously with kosher salt. Place in lowest shelf in refrigerator overnight. This method relaxes the fibers and lets the meat absorb their natural juices making it juicy and tender. This method works best if seasoning with just olive oil or butter and dry spices for grilling, frying or baking.
3. Marinating is a huge win with Chicken Breast. A marinades primary purpose is to add flavor, but also helps the meat to remain moist after it’s cooked. It can be made with oils, herbs, spices, juices and more.
4. Baking tip: A higher Temperature 450ºF and shorter cooking time will help to seal in moisture.
5. Pounding or butterflying is another secret to succulent chicken, creating an even surface will ensure even cooking.
6. Breading, the standard breading practice is Flour, Egg, Breadcrumbs. Cook’s Tip, season the flour with salt and pepper and don’t forget to add your favorite flavors to the breadcrumbs like dried herbs and your favorite cheese.
7. Baking versus Frying I like the below recipe!
Perfect Baked Chicken Parmesan
- 4 chicken breasts, about 8 oz each, sliced in half lengthwise to make 8
- 3/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs, I use a combination of Italian Breadcrumbs and Panko
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
- 2 tbsp butter, melted (or olive oil)
- 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup marinara
- olive oil spray
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Spray a large baking sheet lightly with spray.
- Combine breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese in a bowl. Melt the butter in another bowl. Lightly brush the butter onto the chicken, then dip into breadcrumb mixture. Place on baking sheet and repeat with the remaining chicken.
- Lightly spray a little more oil on top and bake in the oven 20-25 minutes or until internal temperature reads 160°.
- Remove from oven, spoon 1 tbsp marinara over each piece of chicken and top each with 1 1/2 tbsp of shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Bake 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted.