I love chicken just as much as the next person, but only if it’s moist. I can’t stand dry chicken. Chicken completely loses its ability to hold on to flavor when it’s cooked beyond recognition. I discovered some secrets to never-fail moist chicken from America’s Test Kitchen (thank you, Netflix). My husband thinks I have a better understanding than most people about how to not overcook chicken (don’t tell him my secret). My son is very picky with meats and literally gasps with joy when I put this on his plate. So let’s talk about how to make this your new favorite meal.
- Cut the chicken breasts in half width-wise. This is kind of tricky at first, but it makes a huge difference. Put one hand on top of a thawed boneless, skinless chicken breast and the other hand should have a sharp, long knife (like a chef’s knife).
If you keep your non-knifed hand flat, you can feel where the knife is and make a pretty even cut. The goal here is to get two pieces that are the same thickness all the way through. This can also be achieved with a meat tenderizer – if you need to get out some aggression… Alternatively, some stores sell prepared cutlets.
- Salt the chicken and let it sit. This essentially brines the chicken. Sprinkle a little salt (like 1 tsp) on each side of each cutlet. Set them on a plate (stacking them is fine) and let them rest for 20 minutes. This draws the moisture out and allows the flavor to penetrate. The moisture will pool under the chicken (hence the plate). That’s the goal.
- Pat the chicken dry. If you are sensitive to salt, wash the salt off first, then pat it dry with some paper towels. I usually put each cutlet in between some paper towels while I work on the breading.
- Heat the oil early. One of the things that ensures that your breading gets crispy is making sure the oil is hot enough when you drop the chicken in. If the chicken doesn’t sizzle as soon as it hits the pan, it’s not hot enough. Lukewarm oil equals breading that falls off.