|Pan-sauteed chicken over a spinach and strawberry salad|
I thought for awhile that I was really on to something unique, until I realized Julia Child's covers this method in-depth in her cookbook The Art of French Cooking.
First: never use those pre-frozen, bagged, chicken wannabees. Why? Because they suck. And you won't get beautiful, juicy chicken out of them. Buy them fresh. They cost about the same, and all you have to do is wrap them individually and freeze them when you get home.
So, first, defrost your boneless, skinless chicken boobs. I mean breasts (sorry, I had to). However, don't let them cook in the microwave unless you like chewing rubber (my dog does).
While you're defrosting, get your stainless steel skillet hot. Medium-high hot. Sprinkle a little salt over your chicken and then toss those bad boys on the skillet. Yeah, straight on. As in, no oil. I know, I know. But this works!
What you're doing right now is searing the outside, which will not only help keep the moisture in, but will turn your chicken a delicious golden brown. Mmmmmmm....
|See how the outside is browned but the middle is still raw?|
It takes a little practice to know when to turn them, but only turn these baddies once! It's usually about 3-5 minutes per side. Don't sear them any longer and don't keep turning them because you'll only burn the outside and cook the inside and you don't want the inside of the chicken to cook during the searing process. We're going to do that with low heat.
Once you're done searing, the juicy part begins. Now you're going to add some broth or stock to the pan and reduce heat to low. The amount you add depends on whether or not you're creating a sauce for the chicken. If you are, then you'll add as much as you need. If not, add only enough to keep the chicken from cooking in dry heat-- about 1/4 inch in the pan, like the ones below. You aren't going to add too much liquid, so don't worry about that. Worry about not adding enough, which will dry your chickies out.
Now, cover and let them simmer. I usually shoot for 5 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness. The ones above, as you can see, are quite thick. I probably simmered these guys about that long. I know it's tempting. I know you want to because so many of us suffer from CCS. But don't overcook those breasts! If they're a little pink still, you can keep simmering. But you can't unsimmer them if you overcook them.
At some point, I'm going to put up a few quick, easy, gourmet-tasting sauces that I make using this method. But for now, just add a little butter to the stock and season those puppies up and voila!
I put these chickies over a spinach salad with strawberries, carrots, and apple. I whipped up a little dressing that about even parts red wine vinegar and raspberry jam plus a little olive oil. Simple. Fast. Divine. Enjoy!