I usually prep chicken using a “sear and bake” method. The secret is in the sear–it locks in moisture while the chicken does its thing in the oven. I use this recipe as a base to many other dishes: chicken salad, teriyaki chicken, chicken pho…you get the idea. Here’s the method to my madness:
1 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1/8-1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1/4 tsp Dried Herb(s) of choice
(for Mexican or Tex-Mex dishes, I use cilantro. Cilantro or basil work well for Asian-inspired food. I usually stick with basil, Herbes de Provence or oregano for Italian or American dishes.)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and line a small cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Spay with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Season the chicken with salt, crushed red pepper and a healthy grind of fresh black pepper on either side.** Take a pinch of your herb and sprinkle on either side–too much will overwhelm the dish and may have a suspicious (i.e. marijuana)-like smell.
3. Coat a small skillet with nonstick cooking spray turn the burner to medium or medium-high heat (I stick with medium on a gas stove; medium-high on an electric stove). Place the chicken in the hot pan (it shouldn’t be burning hot, but just enough to make a droplet of water sizzle). Lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the pan and sear for 1 1/2-2 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook for another minute.
4. Slide the chicken onto the cookie sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes until firm to the touch. Let the chicken rest on a cutting board for at least five minutes before slicing and serving.
**Tip: Carefully line a dinner plate with plastic wrap, being mindful not to snag or tear the sheet. Stretch the plastic across the plate, leaving about three inches on each end to wrap around the edges; rotate 180 degrees and then cover with another sheet. This creates a “disposable” work surface to season your meat without contaminating a cutting board or plate. Once the meat is seasoned and is sizzling away in your pan, head to the sink and carefully peel off the plastic, then toss in the trash. Voila! Virtually zero cleanup while reducing the risk of contaminating your kitchen with salmonella or other germs.