Few foods are as versatile as chicken. It’s the perfect protein to add to soups, salads, or the curry you’re whipping up in a Crock-Pot. But an overcooked bird can easily ruin the entire meal.
Fortunately, we’ve got the technique for cooking boneless, skinless breasts down to a (super simple) science: It’s time to say good-bye to the oven and hello to the stove top. This easy six-step method originally appeared in The Joy of Cooking, and basically steams the chicken to an even, juicy finish.
1. Pound chicken.
Make sure chicken breasts are an even thickness, so they cook at the same speed. We used a mason jar filled with almonds, but a meat tenderizer or rubber mallet also works well. (Be sure to wash anything that touches raw meat with soap and water—including your hands!)
Add spices to both sides of the chicken. We stuck with the traditional salt and pepper, but if you’d like more of a kick, consider adding paprika, cayenne pepper, or even curry powder.
3. Heat pan and add olive oil.
Place a sauté pan over medium-high heat and add a teaspoon of olive oil to coat pan.
4. Add chicken and sear.
Turn down the heat to medium and add chicken to the pan. Cook the chicken for one minute—the face-down side should begin to appear golden brown.
5. Reduce heat, flip chicken, cover, and cook.
Turn the heat to low and use a pair of tongs to flip chicken. Then cover the sauté pan and cook for 10 minutes.
6. Remove from heat. Let cool.
After 10 minutes, move the pan from the heat, and let cool for an additional 10 minutes. But make sure to keep the cover on—it’s still cooking! Then take off the cover and serve.