This is a great recipe to have for basic healthy eating.  We all need more lean protein in our diets, I’ll bet.  But it took me years (I’m talking YEARS) to figure out I DID like chicken – I just didn’t like it dried out, which it is all too easy to do with chicken.  

So this is a great basic recipe for boneless, skinless chicken breasts from family.go.com.  (Just make sure you get the hormone-free chicken, cost be damned.)

Basic Sauteed Chicken

By Catherine Newman

Hands-On Time: 15min
Cook Time: 15min
Ready In: 30min
Yield: 4-5 Servings
Ease of Prep: Easy

Properly sauteéd chicken breasts are completely excellent, and I’m going to offer you a tutorial here for just that. You can do what you like with them when they’re done: make the simple pan sauce and eat them as is, or slice them up to top a salad or pasta or to fill sandwiches or burritos. Try combining this recipe with a side of easy sauteéd mushrooms as they go very well with chicken. Buttered egg noodles make a great accompaniment, since the delicious juices seep over on the plate and season them perfectly.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  • 1 pinch kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • 1/2 cup chicken broth and 1/2 cup dry white wine, or just use 1 cup chicken broth or another tasty liquid of your choosing if the wine is going to be too wine-y for your kids

  • 1 handful fresh chopped parsley (you could very easily substitute thyme, rosemary, sage, or other herbs for different flavors)

Procedure

  1. Begin by trimming the chicken breasts if they need trimming. I use my beloved kitchen scissors and snip off any shaggy bits of fat or gristle.

  2. Pat them dry with paper towels (to helps them brown) and sprinkle them with some kosher salt.

  3. Heat a very large pan over medium-high heat and add the butter, which should melt and foam, and the olive oil, which should stop the butter from burning. When the fat is all very hot but not turning black (recipes say “when the foam subsides”), add the chicken breasts in one layer. Now leave them alone for 5 or so minutes while the bottom gets nice and crusty and brown.

  4. Use tongs or a spatula to flip them over as they brown, and then cook another 4 or so minutes until the bottom is very brown and the chicken is cooked through. You may want to cut a piece open to check, but pressing a cooked breast with your fingertip will give you a feel for its doneness, which will develop over time into the skill of knowing when it’s done without cutting it.

  5. Pile the chicken on a heat-proof plate and pop it into a 200ºF heated oven while you “deglaze” the pan. Pour the wine in and scrape with a spatula to dissolve all the yummy browned bits while the wine bubbles and boils furiously in the hot pan.

  6. When the wine has cooked down about halfway, add the broth, turn the heat to high, and cook until the sauce seems syrupy and delicious. Taste it for salt, then drizzle it over the chicken, sprinkle with parsley, and serve. Sometimes, if the chicken has browned but doesn’t seem quite cooked through, I leave it in the pan while I make the sauce so that it can simmer in there a bit longer.

A few tips on sautéing chicken: 

  • Thick breasts take too long to cook, and the middle insists on remaining bland. Use very small chicken breasts, cut each one in half to make 2 skinnier breasts, or pound them using a meat tenderizer.

  • In a non-stick pan, the chicken may be disinclined to brown correctly, and the brown is where the flavor is here. Try to use a non-non-stick pan.

  • Don’t be afraid of heat. You want to brown the chicken very well, and you want to do this before the inside turns to quilt batting. The chicken will seem, at first, like it’s sticking, but once it’s properly browned it will loosen itself as if by magic.

  • Slice each breast up crosswise before serving: this allows the sauce to get inside, making it more appealing to eat.