Found this keeper recipe on the web- we’ve made it a few times like this and it’s great.
Moist & Tender Chicken Breasts Every Time
from The Kitchn
“Boneless, skinless chicken breasts ….too often overcooked until dry and chewy, and I generally prefer more succulent boneless, skinless thighs. But for lunch and dinner favorites like chicken Caesar salad and chicken pasta, sliced juicy chicken breasts can’t be beat. They’re a great staple for quick lunches, too. unfailingly juicy and tender boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Need some chicken for a salad, or to top some pasta? This is the method. It takes some trust, but believe me — it works flawlessly every single time. “
A Method That Requires Trust!
This method takes trust; you can’t check the chicken breasts or watch them cooking. The method isn’t searing, sautéing, broiling, frying, or baking; it heats the chicken breasts quickly on the stovetop then lets them essentially poach from the inside out in their juices in a covered pan.
So you can’t peek, and you have to trust us. But I promise that if you follow this method exactly, you won’t be disappointed. I learned this cooking method from an old edition of Joy of Cooking, which gives this method its special label: Cockaigne, reserved for only their personal favorite and best recipes.
Simple chicken, for salads and rice bowls.
Seasoning the Chicken
season the breasts any way you like; make them spicy, or flavor them with fresh herbs.
You don’t need to brine or marinate the chicken, but a quick brine does make them even juicier! …. super-quick 15-minute brine. (If you use a brine, make sure to pat the chicken very dry before proceeding with the cooking method below.)
How To Cook Moist & Tender Chicken Breasts Every Time
1 to 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, of similar size
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil, unsalted butter, or combination of both
- Flatten the chicken breasts: Pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness with the bottom of a wide jar or glass. You can also (carefully!) use the handle of a heavy chef’s knife.
- Season the chicken breasts: Lightly salt and pepper the chicken breasts.
- Prepare the pan: Heat the sauté pan over medium-high heat. When it is quite hot, add the olive oil (or butter, if using). Swirl the pan so it is lightly covered with the olive oil.
- Cook the chicken breasts for 1 minute without moving: Turn the heat to medium. Add the chicken breasts. Cook for just about 1 minute to help them get a little golden on one side (you are not actually searing or browning them).
- Flip the chicken breasts: Then flip each chicken breast over.
- Turn the heat down to low: Turn the heat to low.
- Cover the pan and cook on low for 10 minutes. Cover with a tight-fitting lid. Set a timer for 10 minutes, and walk away. Do not lift the lid; do not peek.
- Turn off the heat and let sit for an additional 10 minutes: After 10 minutes have elapsed, turn off the heat. (If you have an electric stove, remove the pan from the heat.) Reset the timer for 10 minutes and leave the chicken breasts in the pan. Again, do not lift the lid; do not peek.
- Remove lid and take temperature: After the 10 minutes are up, take the lid off, and your chicken is done. Make sure there is no pink in the middle of the chicken breasts. If you want to be absolutely sure it is cooked, you can use an instant-read thermometer to check (the chicken should be at least 165°F). Slice and eat. Store any leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator.
- Dredge in seasoned flour: You can also dredge the chicken breasts in flour before cooking. Season the flour with spices or fresh herbs and make sure the chicken is golden on one side before you flip it over. This will give your chicken a very subtle crust.
- Quick brine: You can make your boneless skinless chicken breasts even juicier and more flavorful with a super-quick brine. Even just 15 minutes in a simple brine will make them juicier. Watch the video above to see how this is done.
Updated from post originally published February 2011.