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  • Writer's pictureMcKenna

how to cook the perfect chicken breast

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 20-25 minutes

Serves: 3-5


Chicken is an excellent, easy protein source for a quick weeknight dinner. But to be honest, I never really knew how to cook a whole chicken breast...


My method: oil a pan, put the chicken in the pan, add salt, lather on a few spices, cook one side, then the other. One problem... I never knew when it was done. And since no one wants to eat raw chicken, I'd cut into every section to see if it was still pink. At this point, it was no longer a chicken breast & instead, dry, shredded chicken.


So I did some research on how to cook the perfect chicken breast, one that's crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside.


That's when I discovered the power of an oven.

Perfectly cooked chicken breast in cast iron skillet

2 important steps for the perfect chicken:

First things first, chicken needs salt. Salt has gotten a bad rap over years, I personally avoided adding salt to my food for a very long time. But, if you find yourself eating mostly whole foods (with little added salt & no electrolyte packs), you're probably not getting enough sodium in your diet. I won't get into this much deeper here, an article for another day, but I say that in hopes you don't fear salt.


As for the chicken, the salt pulls out enough moisture to add a bit of juice to your bit. You'll see that I wrote 1/2 Tbsp of salt but this is merely for reference. Every chicken breast differs in size so use just enough salt to lightly cover the entire chicken. Aka, not a small pinch, but not a spoonful.


Secondly, use the oven. This locks the moisture in & cooks the chicken perfectly, that way you don't have to cut into it 5 times to check if it's ready. Searing the sides of the chicken on a stovetop before putting them into the oven adds crispyness, giving you the best of both worlds.


An extra note: don't cut into them! This was always my biggest mistake. The minute you slice it open, the chicken begins to release its moisture & start drying out. So, this process does require some trust. When in doubt, you can leave larger slabs of chicken in the oven for up to 20 minutes & can always use a thermometer to check the internal temp - it should be at least 165F when finished.


considerations:

  1. For smaller chicken breasts, bake closer to 12 minutes then let them cool for 5 minutes. For chicken that is thicker, leave it in the oven for at least 15 minutes before letting them cool for 5 minutes.

  2. Feel free to switch up your spices, rosemary makes for an excellent addition. The ones below are my go-to.

  3. You can replace the ghee for butter, olive oil, or avocado.

  4. To make these low FODMAP, omit the garlic powder & replace with an herb of your choice.


ingredients

1 pound chicken breast

1 Tbsp ghee

1/2 Tbsp sea salt

garlic powder

cumin

paprika

lemon juice, to top


steps

Preheat the oven to 400F.


Place your chicken on a plate then dry them with a paper towel.


Sprinkle salt on the chicken breast then rub it in with your hands, be sure to do this all over the chicken.


Heat a cast iron over medium heat with 1 Tbsp of ghee.


Once your oil is warm & can slide easily across the pan, place the chicken on the cast iron & let them sit for 4-5 minutes without touching them.


After the time has passed, flip the chicken & let them cook for another 4 minutes. Remove the skillet from the stovetop & place in the oven for 15-17 minutes depending on the thickness of your chicken.


Remove from the oven & let them rest for at least 5 minutes.


Squeeze your lemon on top before serving. Enjoy!

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