Weeknight staple. Blank canvas. Healthy choice. Whatever your views on chicken, no one can deny its popularity.
One of the first things we learned in culinary school is the difference between conductive cooking (direct) and convective cooking (indirectly). Knowing how to use both is the key to cooking practically anything.
Conductive cooking provides a direct heat source applied to the surface of food. Techniques include sautéing, searing, broiling, and grilling.
Convective cooking uses a moving fluid, such as air or water, to indirectly transfer heat to the food. This type of cooking allows for the entire food to be cooked through more evenly. Convective techniques include roasting, steaming, smoking, boiling, simmering, and poaching.
For me, a good chicken breast has a nice golden-brown sear on the outside and a center that is cooked through but still moist.
To get this, it’s pretty simple: first sear; then roast. Yep…that oven is for more than baking cookies….time to make friends.
- Turn your oven to the bake setting, at 350 degrees F.
- Heat sauté pan on burner set to medium high heat. Add enough oil to coat the pan.
- Season top side of raw chicken breast with whatever you like. I use salt and Shichimi (a Japanese seven-spice blend). Salt, pepper, and granulated garlic is a great combo as well.
- Do not add chicken until the pan is hot and the oil looks like it has thinned out. When the pan is ready, add chicken, seasoned side down. It should SIZZLE. If it doesn’t, the pan wasn’t hot enough.
- Sear for about 2-3 minutes before turning. Do not constantly move around the chicken or lift it! Just let it do its thing.
- Once you’ve turned the chicken over and let the bottom sear for a minute or so, transfer the whole pan to the oven.
NOTE: If your sauté pan has a plastic handle, DO NOT put it in the oven. It could melt. Instead, transfer the chicken to a baking dish before putting it in the oven.
- Roast the chicken in the oven for about 10-15 minutes until the center registers 165 degrees F on a cooking thermometer. The cooking time will vary depending on how hot your oven runs and the thickness of the chicken breast.
TIP: After taking the pan out of the oven, cover the pan’s handle with an oven mitt. This will serve as a constant reminder to not touch the hot handle. Trust me, I’ve done it more times than I’d like to admit.