A basic, easy way of cooking juicy and tender chicken breasts: one skillet, one lemon and the chicken.
This Juicy Lemon Chicken Breasts is an easy and quick recipe, more like a basic recipe on cooking chicken breasts in a skillet. We love chicken around here and I cook it often, actually I can say that we eat chicken at least once a week, and that is a lot considering that we only eat meat 2, sometimes 3 times a week. So, over the years, I came up with lots of different ways of cooking chicken.
If you would ask my kids, they would probably say they prefer to eat the chicken legs and that would be my first choice as well, however chicken breasts are altogether the healthier and quicker choice, so I try to alternate the two. The main problem I have encountered when cooking chicken breasts was the fact that they tend to get rather dry if you don’t pay attention, for fear of eating raw chicken (which you should never ever do) people tend to overcook the meat. And that leads to dry, chewy, unsatisfying pieces of meat that you wonder why you bothered cooking in the first place anyway.
So how to keep the chicken breasts juicy and moist while ensuring that they are properly cooked through? Well, I think I might have found a few answers for that. I do have several different methods for cooking the chicken breasts, this recipe for Juicy Lemon Chicken Breasts is only one of them. I chose this recipe because I thought it also to be suitable for a nice, romantic dinner for two, something that will not keep you in the kitchen for a long time, thus allowing you to spent the evening in a more pleasurable way with your loved one.
The Juicy Lemon Chicken Breasts can be prepared well in advance or at the last minute, giving you the freedom you might need on the day. You could marinate the chicken in the evening or in morning before you leave for work, in the afternoon when you come back or at the latest half an hour before cooking the chicken. The list of ingredients is short and versatile. I go for lemon and a few herbs in this recipe, but you could add more spices or completely other spices if you wish. The way you prepare the marinade is really up to you, I change it according to what I have, according to my mood or to fit the side dishes I intend to prepare.
If you prepare the dish in advance make sure to take the chicken out of the fridge at least half an hour before cooking it in order to allow it to get at room temperature, if you only marinate it for half an hour leave the dish with the chicken covered with plastic foil on the counter. If the chicken is too cold, the inside will need a longer cooking time, which will cause the chicken to be drier on the outside and the thinner parts.
For this recipes I use skinned, boneless, halved chicken breasts, one piece weighing about 200 g/ 7 oz and having the normal, rather thicker in the middle chicken breast form. This size of the chicken requires about 25 to 30 minutes cooking time, on medium heat, while turning the meat a few times in between. After this cooking time has come to an end, pierce the chicken breast at its thickest spot with a fork, the juices should run clear. If you have an appropriate thermometer, you could use that, the internal temperature of the chicken should be 82 degrees Celsius/180 degrees Fahrenheit. Smaller chicken breast pieces weighing about 120-150 g/ 4.2 – 5.3 oz should be ready in about 18 to 20 minutes.
This recipe serves two, but it can be very easily scaled for more servings.
- 2 chicken breast halves, about 200 g/ 7 oz each (see note)
- 1 organic lemon
- small handful of parsley
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil + 1 tablespoon for the skillet
- salt and pepper
- Wash and zest the lemon. Juice it, but start only with half the juice when making the marinade.
- Mix together the lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley leaves, honey and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small blender. Process until you have a smooth paste. Add salt and pepper to taste and more lemon juice or honey according to your liking.
- Place the chicken in a shallow dish and pour the marinade over. Turn the chicken a few times in the dish to coat all over. Cover with plastic foil and leave to marinate in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. If you marinate it for a short time, like 30 minutes, leave it on the counter, if not take out of the fridge at least 30 minutes prior to cooking to make sure that the meat reaches room temperature.
- Heat a cast iron skillet or a non stick pan. Add the remaining oil, then the chicken, turn the heat to medium and cook for a total time of about 25 minutes, turning several times in between, but not disturbing the chicken for the first 6-7 minutes or so. Check if the chicken breasts are cooked through either with a special thermometer, the inner temperature should have reached 82 degrees Celsius/180 degrees Fahrenheit or by inserting a fork in the thickest part of the chicken breast. In this case the juices should run clear. You could start checking shortly before the 25 minutes have come to an end, to make sure that you don't overcook the chicken, especially if the chicken pieces weigh a bit less than 200 g/ 7 oz.
- Serve immediately with side dishes of your choice (most anything fits) or let get cold and serve on a salad.
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