Chicken gets a bad rap for being bland and boring. But, that’s usually only from folks who haven’t mastered how to handle it yet.
Today, we’re sharing some of our top tips for cooking chicken like a champ. With just a little more effort, your chicken can go from zero to hero. #JustSayNoToBadChicken, okay?
How to Cook Chicken Like a Champ
1. Consider the Cut
We‘d say 9 out of 10 times, chicken haters are only giving the breast a shot. Truth is, there are a lot of more affordable and tasty options on that bird to consider. We love drumsticks, thighs, dark meat — really anything with the skin-on.
Because the breast is most popular, we’re going to give it some love and use it in our demo today, but you should consider checking out different parts the next time you’re at the store.
After you’ve got your chicken breast (for the love of god please get it skin-on for more flavor), pat it dry with a paper towel. We want NO moisture on that baby so it’ll fry up nicely in the skillet later on.
Next, we want it to be even in thickness to help with the cooking process later on. Put that baby in a plastic bag and pound with a mallet or rolling pin (or wine bottle!) until it flattens to an even level.
2. Make Time to Marinate
After you’ve taken your weekly frustrations out on that chicken breast, it’s time to season it up.
Ideally, you would let your chicken marinate all day. But, we’re realistic people and know that’s likely not happening. So, here’s what to do instead.
Pat the chicken dry again, and cover that baby in spices. Be as liberal as Bernie Sanders with it. Don’t be shy, this is where most people f*ck it up. Underseasoning chicken is a true crime against humanity.
For real, though. Those flavors sitting on the crust need to season the entire piece of meat. We want to give them time to infuse deep into the chicken, and we want there to be plenty of it to go around. At the very least, season that baby and let it sit for at least 10-15 minutes.
Here are a few of our favorite seasonings to get you started.
- Colorado Chicken & Veg — When one of our restaurant partners wanted a custom blend for an Italian chicken salad, it sparked the creation of this blend for you to enjoy at home. The Colorado Chicken & Veg has a mix of Italian seasonings, salt, citrus peels and some crushed red pepper for the perfect balance of sugar, acid, salt and heat.
- Citrus Pucker Pepper — You’ve had lemon pepper chicken, but never like this. Our blend has a mix of lemon and orange peels to give you that zesty kick when you need a little extra somethin’ somethin’.
- Sweet Heat — Just one taste and we sell the sh*t out of this at farmer’s markets. It delivers exactly what it says — a little bit of sweet with a surprising kick of heat at the end from the habanero and crushed red pepper.
- Roasted Garlic Blend — Sometimes we call this one “Dracula’s Bite.” It’s a hit on almost everything, including the humble chicken breast. (not to mention, it’s also on the curly fries at The Regional)
3. Crank Up the Heat
While you’re waiting for the chicken to marinate, it’s the perfect time to get your pan ready. Preheat it to medium-low and let that thing get as HOT as possible before dropping in the chicken — especially if you love a crispy skin as much as we do.
Once you start to see a little bit of smoke, drop in a tablespoon or two of your favorite oil, swirl it around and add the chicken. Don’t add the oil to the hot pan too soon before adding the chicken or it will start to degrade.
Once the chicken hits the pan with that glorious sizzling sound, let it sit for 3-4 minutes (depending on thickness). Once you see a white ring forming on the edges, check the crust on the bottom to see if it’s to your liking. Once it is, flip to the other side and let it continue cooking, usually a little less time on this side than the first.
If you want to be a real pro, pull the chicken just a TINY bit before it’s fully ready, add it to a plate, tent it with foil and let it sit for a few minutes. It’ll finish cooking without drying out, and it gives the chicken time to reabsorb some of that juicy goodness.