Continuing the celebration of my new mini e-cookbook, “Finger Lickin’ Chicken,” let’s talk turkey about chicken.
Specifically, let’s talk chicken breasts, which are waaaaay more popular than all other chicken parts combined.
(This Huffington Post article says we choose white meat chicken over dark 80% of the time. I blame the fat-free 90s, which put boneless skinless chicken breasts on every table multiple times a week, pushing off juicier, more flavorful chicken choices. If I could get you to have a thigh or two every once in a while, I’m sure you’d enjoy it. Maybe my recipe for Korean Barbecued Chicken Thighs or Jambalaya Chicken in a Skillet, both available in “Finger Lickin Chicken” on Amazon and iTunes for a mere $1.99, might entice you?)
But I digress. The thing about light meat chicken, the thing that makes it so popular, is that it’s low in fat. But that also means a) it can easily get dry and tough, and b) it can be, well, flavorless.
What to do? A few tips.
1. Cook it right.
That lack of fat means a chicken breast can go from perfectly cooked to dry and tough very quickly. And that means it’s best suited for quick cooking methods, like grilling, pan-searing, and poaching.
2. Try brining.
Wet brining with a salt solution or dry brining with a salt rub will combat both dryness and lack of flavor. Either method will help get salt deep into the meat, enhancing its flavor and helping it hold more liquid. The result—juicier, tastier chicken.
Here’s a post with more about brining—what it is, what it does, and why it makes a difference.
3. Brown it.
Browning adds roasty, toasty, caramelized notes—and crisp textures—to your chicken, but it needs high heat to happen. For example, a hot oven. Browning can also happen via searing in a hot skillet and by grilling, where you’ll get charring along with browning, adding even more flavor.
This recipe for Sauteed Chicken with Parsnip, Apple, and Sherry Pan Sauce features pan-browning.
4. Get saucy.
Add flavor to your chicken after its cooked by adding sauce. But I don’t mean gobs of thick gravy that’ll obscure. I mean a tablespoon or two of something flavorful and wet that’ll enhance.
For example, a simple pan sauce or dressing, a dab of pesto, or a flavored butter, as in this Grilled Chicken with Sundried Tomato Butter.
Putting it all together
Classic Cobb Salad, pictured in this post, employs more than one of these ideas. The chicken is poached, helping to keep it tender and juicy. And it’s drizzled with a sauce—a tangy, creamy vinaigrette—helping to give the chicken more flavor. Of course, it also has bacon, blue cheese, and avocado, and those almost never hurt in any recipe.
There are 6 more tips for making all your chicken delicious in “Finger Lickin’ Chicken,” available on Amazon and iTunes, plus 10 ways to dress up a grilled chicken breast and 10 things to do with rotisserie chicken. Check it out, won’t you?
Meanwhile, may all your dishes—chicken and otherwise—be finger lickin’.
12 new recipes! Simple to make—yet special enough that you’ll relish every finger lickin’ bite!
Find out more