Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cook's Illustrated Pan-Seared Chicken Breast Technique

The March/April issue of Cook's Illustrated featured an article on a new way to cook chicken breasts. 

To achieve juicy pan-seared chicken breasts that weren't leathery on the outside and that didn't need any advance prep work prior to cooking, the author salted and par-cooked chicken breasts in a covered pan in the oven and then brushed the breasts with a butter-flour-cornstarch slurry and pan-seared them.

In other words, he reversed the technique, which is to pan sear first and then finish off in the oven.

The verdict? The chicken was moist and the slurry created an appealing browned crust.

Since I had asparagus on hand, I sauted them with some garlic and made a marsala sauce and linguine to accompany the chicken.

My husband got the no-carb dinner, as he's an Atkins kind of guy.

This chicken would work with any kind of sauce, such as dried cherry and apple sauce, garlic, butter and white wine sauce, etc. Whatever floats your boat!

Cook's Illustrated Pan-Seared Chicken Breast Technique
(in my own words and with my own variations)

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6-8 oz. each), trimmed of excess fat
Kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. per breast

Cornstarch and watter slurry (whisk 1 tbs. cornstarch and enough water together to make a loose paste; increase if you have more than 4 chicken breasts)
2 tbs. butter, melted
1 tbs. flour
1 tsp. ground black pepper

Your favorite pan sauce or bottled sauce

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Place breasts on a piece of aluminum foil on a cookie tray or baking dish. The foil should be big enough to wrap over and full enclose the breasts (this is for easy clean up).

Poke each breast with a fork 5-6 times, and sprinkle each breast with 1/2 tsp of kosher salt. This will act like a mini-brine.

Cover the breasts with foil, so they are enclosed. Place on middle rack in the oven and bake 30-40 minutes, or until they're 145-150 degrees inside. (I cooked my chicken breasts 30 minutes).

Remove chicken from oven. Open foil and move chicken onto paper towels. Pat dry. Any juice that's in the foil can be used for a pan sauce if you're making one.

Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-hight heat until hot. Add 1-2 tbs. of oil. Make slurry and brush 1/2 on the top of chicken breasts.

Place chicken, slurry side down, and brown for 3-4 minutes. While that side is browning, brush the remaining slurry on the other side.

Flip chicken with tongs when browned and brown the other side for 3-4 minutes, or until the chicken is 160 degrees internally.

Transfer chicken to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes. You can make a pan sauce now, use a prepared sauce, or serve as is.


La Table De Nana said...

What a great idea..thanks for sharing!

Barbara Bakes said...

I cook a lot of chicken breasts, so I'm excited to try this idea! Thanks for posting!

♥¸¸.•*¨Skip to Malou¨¨*•.¸¸♥¸ said...

the reverse techinique that you shared here maybe the answer to my long time quest on how to have a juicy chicken breat. It has always been a hit and miss for me.. thanks for sharing!

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

That's something new! Good idea!

zurin said...

will simple and somthign different in technique. tq ^^

Xenos said...

Hi Ninette- Thanks for this recipe. Since I have to cook for seven at a time I have needed a way to prepare seared-chicken recipes without multiple batches extending the process. I normally poach the breasts, but that has gotten old hat.

I did my first try tonight, but overcooked the chicken because my 8th grader decided to pick exactly wrong moment to argue why she should not have to take honors math next year in High School, and an extended debate was promptly joined, leading to overcooked and rubbery chicken. But I like the general results (lots of flavor) and know exactly how to get a great red wine and mushroom sauce to work next time. -- James

Ninette said...

Hey Xenos, I loved your comment. Thanks for letting me know how it went. I hope you convinced your daughter to try honors math. Of course, it depends on her coursework, but it's a good idea to take the most challenging coursework that one can successfully manage. I work at a school and advise high schoolers. :)

Xenos said...

Being a 'xenos' it follows that I have a Greek father in law who ships me oil... and another shipment has come in. Could I drop off a jerry can at some point? I am drowning in the stuff.

Ninette said...

Oh my, is it true that one of my non-virtual friends has posted a comment? Cool! Yes, I'd love a can. :)

Xenos said...

Excellent! Send my regards to your Atkinsian. I would do well to follow his example. Alas, beer is not on the Atkins plan.

Steve said...

I used this method when I saw it recently. You're right, it's a great preparation. Very juicy and versatile.

arvin said...

wow. saw this recipe over at foodbuzz and i'm dying to try it out myself. thanks for posting it and for the gorgeous photos as well!..Wishing you a blessed day..
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Harry said...

you missed the cornstarch in your recipe -- was that on purpose?

Ninette said...

Hey Harry,

I wrote slurry, which is the cornstarch and water mixture. I will add the word "cornstarch" so it's more clear. Thanks for the comment.

valium price said...

It is better to deal with this subject like you did instead of beating around the bush. I always like direct articles. Good job dude

Anonymous said...

275 Fahrenheit or Celsius? I can never tell on English websites.

Ninette said...

Sorry for the very late reply. It's 275 degrees fahrenheit, so it's low heat.

Rockter Mom said...

Very nice. I just started eating meat and cooking it after many years as a vegetarian, so I don't have a clue what I'm doing. This recipe was easy and the chicken came out moist and delicious. I served it with the sauce at the bottom of this recipe:
and it was a fantastic combo.