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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: The Simple Trick That Makes Chicken Breasts So Much Better

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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 enoughand 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.

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