Everything You Need to Know About Chicken Breast
First things first, we hope you caught last week’s blog that covered the importance of true pasture raised chicken, misleading labels, and more.
Chicken Breast is easily one of the most popular cuts among American consumers. This is partially due to a consumers’ desire to enjoy leaner, low-fat options. However, the breast is also versatile in the kitchen and can easily be adapted for numerous recipes that can be prepared in small or large quantities, pleasing singles, couples, families, and groups. The breast, like all other light cuts of chicken meat, should be a soft yellow in color with a light pink hue. It should also be plump (but not unusually so) and it should absolutely NEVER have an odor to it.
In addition to being a high protein option, white chicken meat is also a good source for zinc, potassium, vitamin B-6, niacin, and magnesium. This time of year, we’re fans of throwing most meat on the grill and chicken is no different but, as we mentioned above, there’s a multitude of ways to prepare breast, like baking, poaching, or pan-frying. Plus, once it’s prepared, it’s great as the main event, for adding to salads, stir-fries, soups, pastas, you name it! No matter how you’re enjoying your chicken, it should always be finished at an internal temperature of 165 degrees fahrenheit (75 celsius).
When it comes to preparing the chicken breast for your average weeknight dinner, many consumers turn to pan-frying or baking, but are often met with disappointment when biting into an overdry piece of meat and then choose to lather the breast in a sauce that sort of defeats the purpose of the meat’s flavor in the first place. The dry-moist chicken dilemma is a real one. You certainly never want your finished breast to be rubbery but an overcooked breast can be quite unpleasant to gnaw through. Truth be told, consumers are destined for an unpleasant finished product if they start with the options at an average grocery story. The fresher the chicken (no matter what part/cut), the better and the freshest options come directly from your farmers. Grocery store breasts are sometimes frozen, thawed, and re-frozen several times. Plus, it takes much longer for a mass produced chicken breast to travel from the field (if the poor chicken ever sees a field - sadly, most factory farm chickens never leave the building where they're born) to your plate. So, if you hope to avoid an over-dry end product, start with your farmer.
Once you’ve mastered the art of choosing humanely raised chicken from your friendly farmer, two other techniques you should consider are:
Flip ONLY ONCE when cooking.
If the pan is heated to a medium temperature you should be able to cook one side until the edges are opaque, about 10 minutes, and then flip to the other side, cover the pan, lower the heat and cook for another 10 minutes.
Let your chicken RIP.
Once you’re done cooking the chicken breast (and this reigns true for pretty much all meats), let it rest for at least 5 minutes, covered. This gives the juices time to settle instead of spilling out upon your first premature cut. Letting meat rest is one of the easiest techniques to add to your cooking skills and literally everyone has the ability to do it. Just remember, patience is a virtue.
Now, for a few of our favorite recipes:
Chicken Breasts Dijon from Bon Appetit
Creamy Skillet Chicken Cacciatore from The Recipe Critic
Lemon Pepper Baked Chicken Breast by Delish
Sheet Pan Chicken Breast with Potatoes and Garlicky Mustard Greens by SELF
Broccoli Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast by I Wash You Dry
Enjoy! And, as always, don’t hesitate to contact your farmers with questions, feedback, requests, or just to say hi!