Basic Simple Chicken
By Catherine Newman
Makes: 4 servings
Total carbohydrates: 1 gram per serving
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
This is just a perfect, basic chicken recipe that makes versatile, good-tasting chicken for salads, bowls, roll-ups, and whatever else you might want chicken for. Please heed the note about not using a nonstick pan: the chicken will be disinclined to brown correctly in it. And please don’t be afraid of heat! Brown is where the flavor is. The chicken will seem, at first, like it's sticking, but once it's properly browned it will loosen almost as if by magic.
1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, ideally smallish ones
2 tablespoon olive oil
Begin by trimming the chicken breasts if they need trimming. I use kitchen scissors and snip off any shaggy bits of fat or gristle. Pat them dry with paper towels (this helps them brown) and sprinkle them with some kosher salt.
Meanwhile, heat a very large pan (not nonstick) over medium-high heat and add the olive oil.
When the oil is very hot, 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. Be patient! And if they seem at all disinclined to brown, then turn the heat up and leave them until they do. (Conversely, if the pieces seem to be browning before they’re cooked through, turn the heat down a little bit.)
Use tongs or a spatula to flip the pieces over as they're ready for flipping, 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, but try pressing a cooked breast with your fingertip so that you get a feel for its doneness, which will develop over time into the skill of knowing when it's done without cutting it.
The chicken will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.