The Simple Trick That Makes Chicken Breasts So Much Better

For such a common culinary endeavor, it’s
surprising how intimidating it can be to cook a chicken breast. It tends to turn out either overcooked or
not cooked enough — and raw chicken is not to be messed with. “Look at that. That’s your best?!” “No chef!” So why is it so tricky to get right? According to J. Kenji López-Alt of Serious
Eats, it’s often because chicken breasts vary in thickness throughout. “What this means is that no matter how you
cook ’em, there’s a good chance that the thinner, tapered end is going to end up cooking through
before the fatter, bulkier end does.” López-Alt says the best way to get around
this problem is to pound the chicken breasts first: “By pounding the chicken breast flat, you’re
able to cook the whole thing to the correct final temperature at the same time, leaving
you with a juicier breast.” He added that pounding the chicken not only
leads to more even cooking, but also faster cooking, and more tender meat. No meat mallet? No problem: You can use pretty much anything
that’s heavy and sturdy, like a skillet, an empty wine bottle, or a rolling pin. Skip the mess by wrapping the chicken in plastic
wrap or wax paper before pounding it, or take a tip from Kitchn and slip it into a plastic
baggie for super-easy cleanup. So when should you use this method? Tasting Table says it comes in handy no matter
how you’re preparing your chicken, so make it your first step if you’re grilling, baking,
broiling or pan-frying your poultry. They add that the ideal thickness of your
chicken breast is between a quarter-inch and half-inch, but what really matters is that
the breasts are the same thickness throughout — so don’t sweat it if you can’t get them
exactly that thin. Thanks for watching! Click the Mashed icon to subscribe to our
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