How to Cook a Moist Chicken
One thing I have had very good luck with is saut�ing moist chicken. When I go out to eat, I rarely order chicken because it is served dry (read: overcooked). This method works well for chicken breast which is what I usually cook.
- Brine the chicken. This is optional but makes a big difference.
- Make sure the chicken is at room temperature.
- Make sure the chicken is not too thick. Chicken breast usually is tapered with the fat end about 1 1/2 inches thick. I cut the breast in two (thin and thick part) then cut the thick part in half so each piece is about 3/4 inch thick.
- Use a marinade. This is optional but enhances the flavor and adds a little moisture to the chicken.
- Use an iron skillet or aluminum/stainless steel one. Don’t use a nonstick because the chicken does not brown well.
- Don’t get the skillet too hot or else the chicken will be done on the outside but not on the inside. On a gas or electric stove, I cook at medium heat. You want a nice golden brown finish; not black.
- Make sure the oil is hot enough. I use corn, peanut, or high temp olive oil. The oil should be shimmering in the pan but not smoking.
- Make sure the chicken is patted dry or else oil will spatter when you immerse the chicken.
- Put the chicken in the skillet. Don’t crowd it; in other words there should be space in between each piece.
- Cover the skillet about 75% of the way. This helps cook the chicken through and prevents oil spatter but does not steam cook it much.
- Flip the chicken after 4 minutes. It should be golden brown on the bottom. Cook until the middle of the chicken is about 160 degrees. I use a quick digital thermometer to measure but I know my stove enough that I can take out the chicken after 4 minutes (8 total) of cooking.
- Put the chicken on a platter and cover it. I use a skillet lid. The temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees while it is resting. Let it rest for 4 minutes then serve. This redistributes the juices throughout the chicken.
- In the mean time, I like to make pan sauce which is delicious. The quickest way is to pour about 1/2 cup of vermouth in the pan while it is on medium heat. Let it boil for a minute then scrape up the bits of fond with a flat wooden spoon or spatula. Let it boil for another minute or so. Serve over the chicken. And you will have a relatively clean pan.
- If you do not make a pan sauce, pour water in the pan when it's hot. After a minute, the pan will be very easy to scrape clean with a spatula.