Health

The Best Way to Cook Chicken Breast Is Also the Easiest

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AH, CHICKEN BREASTS—the Tom Hanks of the protein world. They’re both dependable, consistent, and always deliver at least an average performance.

Except that unlike Tom Hanks, chicken breasts can be challenging to cook at home. (Sorry, is that in poor taste?)

That’s because chicken breasts have little leeway between dry-as-all-get-out overcooked and salmonella-inducing undercooked. If you can hit that sweet spot in-between, chicken breast is juicy, tender, and totally delicious. If you can’t? Well, that’s the culinary equivalent of having to watch The Da Vinci Code.

Luckily (and mercifully), you no longer ever have to cook another bad chicken breast again, because soon you will know the one right way to cook the best chicken breast you’ve ever tasted.

The secret: Cooking the best chicken breast actually deals more with how you prepare the chicken breast for cooking than it does actually cooking it.

More specifically, it involves smashing the chicken breast flat with a heavy object.

Yes, pounding a poor, helpless, defenseless chicken breast using a meat mallet, rolling pin, the bottom of a cast-iron pan, or something else perhaps even more creative, will result in a better-tasting bird.

You see, chicken breasts are, for lack of a better word, blobs. And blobs are uneven in terms of their thickness. So that’s why the thinner parts of the chicken breasts tend to overcook before the thickest parts are done. Smashing the chicken breast to an even thinness not only solves “the blob problem” (which is, coincidentally, the title of a 1987 Tom Hanks movie), but it tenderizes the meat and helps it cook more quickly.

Easy, right?

As the man himself once said, “If it were easy, everyone would do it.”

So do it.

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Yields:

1


serving

Prep Time:

0

hours

15

mins

Cook Time:

0

hours

15

mins

Total Time:

0

hours

30

mins

1


boneless, skinless chicken breast

2


big pinches kosher salt

2


big pinches whatever other seasonings you want

2


big pinches pepper

1


cooking oil

1. Prep

On a cutting board lined with a long sheet of parchment paper (or wax paper or aluminum foil), place a chicken breast. Fold the paper over the chicken breast so it’s covered.

2. Pound

Using a rolling pin, meat mallet, or bottom of a heavy pan, repeatedly pound the chicken breast to an even 1/4-inch thickness throughout.

3. Season

On both sides, and a big pinch each of a salt and pepper, plus whatever additional seasonings you’d like (smoked paprika, ground cumin, ground turmeric, etc).

4. Sizzle

In a large pan over medium-high, heat the oil. When it’s hot, add the chicken and sear until cooked through (165°F with a meat thermometer), 2 to 3 minutes a side.

5. Serve

Plate it hot and serve beside cooked quinoa, honey-glazed carrots, or sauteed spinach or kale.

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