Pan fried chicken is the foundation stone of many great recipes yet many cooks are nervous when it comes to cooking chicken. Often, people are afraid of under cooking the meat and making their family ill, or on the opposite end of the spectrum, many people end up with tough, dry chicken breast.In this article we'll show you how to cook chicken breast perfectly every time.
Heating the pan
The key to cooking any kind of meat is to get the pan temperature right. This is particularly important when cooking chicken breasts.
If you have the pan too cold, then the moisture in the chicken will steam the meat and make it very tough.
To help prevent this, cook the chicken breast at room temperature. Be sure to remove it from the refrigerator at least an hour before cooking.
The best fried chicken should have a caramelised brown crust and be moist and tender on the inside.
Heat To check that the pan heats at the right temperature, add a teaspoon of water. This should form a droplet which behaves like liquid mercury. It should be able to glide around the pan. if the droplet bubbles away, then the pan is not hot enough.
Tips Before cooking, make sure that the pan is dry. Add a little groundnut oil to help cook the chicken. Groundnut oil is the best due to its high smoking point. It allows you to get the pan extremely hot without burning the oil.
Cook the breast
Before you start to pan fry, season the breast with salt and pepper. Some recipes will require you to add herbs or marinades at this point. Use kitchen tongs to add the meat to the hot pan. The high heat will seal the chicken and will help to develop the tasty brown crust that we talked about. As the chicken cooks, you will see the meat turn from pink to white. Look at the side of the breast - when you see that the cooked white meat has reached half way up, use the tongs to turn the meat. This should take about 3-4 minutes. When the chicken breast has been turned, fry for a further 4 minutes. Remove the breast from the pan and slice. The juices should run clear and the meat should be white.
This article covers pan frying. For southern fried chicken such as the KFC original recipe, you'll need to make batter and use a deep fryer. Alternatively, you can stir fry chicken, which is a similar process. Once you are comfortable with pan frying, it is easy to adapt to new recipes, meats and cooking methods.