Looking for a healthy and easy chicken recipe? One that uses bones, skinless chicken? You've come to the right place.
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts may be great nutritionally speaking, but they can fall pretty flat when it comes to flavor.
But flat isn't always a bad thing. Think of a boneless, skinless chicken as a healthy blank canvas on which other flavors can shine. And there are two techniques that can make that easier -- cooking them quickly to avoid drying them out and using the cooking process to create a flavorful pan sauce.
Quick and even cooking is easiest when the chicken breasts are thin. Thick breasts take longer to cook and are more likely to become dry. While you can buy thin-sliced breasts, it's cheaper to buy regular breasts and pound them thin.
To do this, place the chicken breasts on a clean surface, cover them with plastic wrap, then pound them to a uniform thickness using the flat side of a meat mallet, a heavy skillet or a rolling pin.
Next, take advantage of the cooking process to make a sauce. When chicken (or any meat) is cooked in a pan, browned bits stick to the bottom. Once the chicken is done, those bits are easily turned into a sauce.
To do this, dredge the flattened fillets in flour lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. Saute the seasoned chicken breasts in a nonstick skillet using olive oil blended with a small amount of butter.
After the chicken breasts are golden-brown and cooked through, transfer them to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Now return the pan to the heat and add liquid -- wine, broth, juice or water. This is called deglazing. Scrape the pan with a wooden spoon and bring to a simmer. You also can add other ingredients to the sauce, such as mushrooms, diced onion and herbs. Simmer the sauce until thickened (or add a bit of cornstarch mixed with a tablespoon or two of cool water). In this recipe for chicken breasts with pineapple and jalapeno chilies, the fruit is caramelized with brown sugar before garlic and minced hot peppers are added. To finish the sauce, the pan is deglazed with a blend of pineapple and orange juice, then thickened with cornstarch. SAUTEED CHICKEN BREASTS WITH PINEAPPLE AND JALAPENO CHILIES Start to finish: 30 minutes (15 minutes active) Servings: 4 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 pounds) 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon butter 12-ounce package fresh pineapple chunks (1 3/4 cups) 1/2 cup orange juice 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch 1 tablespoon brown sugar 2 jalapeno chilies, seeded and minced 2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro Arrange chicken breasts in a single layer on a work surface and cover with plastic wrap. Using a heavy skillet or a rolling pin, pound them until flattened to about 1/2 inch thick. In a shallow dish, combine the flour, salt and pepper. Dredge both sides of each breast in the seasoned flour. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat the oil and butter. Add the chicken breasts and cook until they are well browned on both sides and no longer pink at the center, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer them to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Do not clean the skillet. While the chicken breasts are cooking, drain the juice from the pineapple into a measuring cup. Add enough orange juice to total 3/4 cup. Stir in the cornstarch, then set aside. Return the skillet to the stove over medium-low. Add the drained pineapple and brown sugar. Cook, stirring constantly, until the pineapple begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chilies and garlic and stir until the garlic is beginning to color, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the reserved juice. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook until thickened and reduced slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro, then serve, spooned over the chicken breasts. Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 268 calories; 70 calories from fat; 8 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 76 mg cholesterol; 19 g carbohydrate; 28 g protein; 1 g fiber; 133 mg sodium.