10 Things to Do With Chicken Breasts
Running out of ways to cook this quick and easy staple? Here are 10 tasty new ideas.
Chicken breasts are the busy person's salvation. When you have a late night at work, they defrost in a flash and cook up just as quickly. But admit it: You're stuck in a rut, always returning to the same three or four tired preparations. Ready for some new ideas? Inject your culinary repertoire with a little variety and try these easy takes on the ultimate quick dinner.
Place the breasts on a sheet of foil or parchment paper. Try one of these two toppings:
- Halved cherry tomatoes, sliced fennel and lemon wedges for Mediterranean flavor
- Shredded mustard greens, zucchini strips, thyme and a splash of apple juice for a Southern take
Bake in a 425°F oven for about 20 minutes.
Use a spice rub.
Grind dried spices in a spice grinder or in a clean coffee grinder. Our favorite combinations are:
- Rosemary, parsley, oregano and lemon zest
- Cumin, paprika, chili powder, oregano and a pinch of cayenne
Massage the mixture into the chicken breasts, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or up to 12 hours. Broil, grill or sauté chicken breasts for about 20 minutes over medium-high heat.
Pound them flat.
Arrange the breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap, then pound them to 1/4-inch thickness with a heavy saucepan or rolling pin. Spread one of these two mixtures over the breasts:
- Frozen, chopped spinach, dill and Dijon mustard
- Chopped, fresh arugula leaves, diced tomatoes and rosemary
Spray a casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Roll up the breasts with the filling inside and place the rolls seam-side-down in the casserole dish. Bake at 425°F for about 30 minutes, basting them twice with a splash of cranberry juice.
Try a stir-fry.
Cut the breasts into strips. Spray a wok with nonstick cooking spray, then sauté minced garlic, shredded ginger and chopped scallions over high heat. Add the chicken strips, some vermouth and a splash of reduced-sodium soy sauce; stir-fry for 2 minutes. Toss in sliced carrots, broccoli florets or watercress; continue stir-frying until the chicken is cooked through.
Use pre-made sauce.
Chop the breasts into 1-inch cubes, and then mix them in a saucepan with your favorite jarred marinara sauce. Cook the chicken mixture over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through; serve over whole-wheat pasta or brown rice.
Cut the breasts into strips and steam them with your favourite vegetables and an aromatic herb. For an Asian twist, try snow peas, shiitake mushrooms and crushed lemongrass. Discard the lemongrass before serving.
Cut the breasts into small pieces then slide them onto metal skewers, or wooden skewers soaked in water for 20 minutes. Add on your veggies of choice: onion wedges, green pepper slices or yellow squash. Grill or broil the skewers for about 20 minutes, basting occasionally with apple juice.
Chicken Cooking Tips
As you prepare the breasts, follow these three general tips:
Don't poke the breasts with a fork.
Use tongs or a spatula to turn the breasts over the heat. Every hole in the meat allows moisture to escape.
Salt them at the end.
Salt pulls out moisture; only add it to a completed chicken dish, just before serving.
Let the breasts rest.
After the cooking is done, let the breasts sit at room temperature for five minutes before serving so that the natural juices can reincorporate into the meat.
Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough are the authors of Cooking for Two (Morrow Cookbooks, 2004).