I gave a private cooking lesson on Monday to a client that is on a great new food regimen called The Plan. I don’t want to call it a diet as it teaches you about foods to eat and what foods cause an inflammatory reaction in the body. You can check out more on The Plan and see a list of inflammatory foods at http://www.neighborhoodholistic.com (also on the Blog Roll below).
On my client’s plan, and the protein she consumes most, is chicken – skinless, boneless – like everyone else. I showed her an easy method to get moist and flavorful pan-seared chicken breast that you can use with any other thick-cut meat, fish or poultry. There are two methods and both will get you to where you want to be.
Method 1: Stove Top & Oven – for meats, fish and poultry
Preparation – It all begins with preparation. When you bring meats home from the store, season and wrap in Press n Seal portions you will prepare, then into a labeled freezer bag. This way you don’t have to thaw 8 pieces of chicken if you are only making 2 at a time. Also the meat has a chance at flavor before it hits the pan.
Thaw – In the morning before you go to work, move the frozen portion to a plate on the lowest part of your refrigerator to prevent cross contamination with other foods.
Room Temperature – When you return home, remove portion from the fridge, unwrap and let it come to room temperature…have a glass of wine, put on your slippers, pet the dog etcetera
Preheat – preheat oven to 350 degrees* (see #2 of Method 2) and preheat oven-safe skillet over medium-high flame (pan is ready when you can’t hold your hand 2 inches above pan for no longer than 3 seconds – or, if you don’t have asbestos hands, give it 3 minutes).
Season – if your protein is not pre-seasoned, first pat dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture (helps for a good sear), liberally season with kosher salt and pepper and/or your seasoning of choice
Fat – coat the pan with a thin layer of cooking oil (grapeseed, olive, vegetable)
Cooking – lay in your room temperature meat away from you (so you don’t get hot oil on yourself) and let it be until the edges get opaque/cooked and some caramelization appears on the side touching the pan – times vary on size. Once the color is achieved, flip your protein, cook for one minute** (see #4 of Method 2) and move the oven-safe pan to the preheated oven. Again times may vary (based on type and size of protein – rare steak, medium fish, well done chicken), but 5-8 minutes should do for well done.
Resting – Remove pan from oven (NOTE! leave pot holder on pan handle to remember that it is HOT!) and/or protein from the pan to a cutting board and let rest so all of the juices can redistribute back into the meat.
Slicing – if slicing, slice against the grain.
Method 2: Stove Top Only – tested for boneless, skinless chicken breasts only
Follow instructions 1-3 above.
* Preheat a pan with a lid (lid off to begin) over medium-high flame.
Follow instructions 5–6 above
** Place lid tightly on pan, turn heat down to medium and cook for 3 minutes. Move pan off of burner and let stand for 1 minute.
Remove lid and follow instructions 8-9
You should have a beautifully seared and caramelized piece of whatever, that is also moist on the inside. Good luck and I hope this helps your everyday cooking routine!