Chicken is not only filling, but if you choose the right cut can be pretty lean as well – low calorie, high protein.
Pan-fried Chicken Breast
This method can be surprisingly hard to make just right. Chicken breasts are unevenly shaped, which means if you don’t pay attention they can be either slightly undercooked or grossly over! The benefit of pan-frying is the formation of the crust on the outside of the breast – also know as the maillard reaction (the reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned food its flipping awesome taste).
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan until starting to shimmer. Rapeseed/canola is a good choice of oil as it has a high smoke point, and is neutral – so won’t impart any flavour.
- Place the skinless chicken breast(s) into the pan starting with one end closest to you to avoid splattering hot oil on yourself. Season the chicken with sea salt flakes and any other flavouring you might want to use (e.g. paprika, herbs, cayenne pepper). Don’t season with black pepper at this point as it will burn in the pan – wait until after the chicken is cooked.
- Cook for between 6-7 minutes a side. Resist the urge to check the chicken during otherwise you won’t get a decent crust on it. On flipping the chicken breast season the other side as you did before.
- The only step left is to check that it’s cooked all the way through! There are several methods for this. If you’re middle-class enough to own a meat thermometer, the thickest part of the breast(s) should measure 160-165°F (71-74°C). Otherwise stick a knife into the thickest part of the breast a take a quick look. The juices should run clear and there shouldn’t be any pink left. If it’s not ready, cook it one more minute on each side.
- OK I lied about there not being any steps left. The most important step? Resting the meat. If you’re planning on eating it immediately, cover it with foil on a chopping board/plate for 5 minutes. Trust me, it’ll be much juicier if you do.
Oven-baked Chicken Breast
Healthier and easier than pan-fried, and you have the option of adding other flavours like lemon or fresh herbs.
- Preheat your oven to 450°F/230°C (410°F/210°C if you’re using a fan oven).
- Rub the skinless chicken breast(s) with olive oil and season liberally with sea salt, black pepper and anything else you fancy. Place in an oven-safe dish lined with foil (it makes the clean up much easier).
- Cook for between 15-18 minutes (feel free to flip half way if you so desire, but not essential). Check they are done (see method above in step 4 of the pan-fried chicken breast), if not put them back in for a couple more minutes until they are.
- REST (5 minutes should do).
(poached, scrambled, omelette)
FISH (pan-fried, oven-baked)
PORK (pan-fried bacon, pork belly)