How to pan fry the perfect chicken breast

JP McMahon: My greatest grind regarding cooking chicken is the amount we over cook it

‘Probably my greatest gripe regarding cooking chicken is the extent to which  we over cook it.’ Photograph: iStock

‘Probably my greatest gripe regarding cooking chicken is the extent to which we over cook it.’ Photograph: iStock

 

The first elderflowers are blooming on the trees in Galway and I’m thinking about chicken. Whole roast chicken, barbecued chicken, pan-fried chicken breasts, crispy wings and succulent thighs. Did you know that pickled elderflowers pair well with pan-fried chicken? Or you can dry the flowers and combine them with salt to season a whole chicken before roasting.

Another combination I love is chicken and rocket. Rocket seems a bit passé now, but I remember its glory days in the 1990s, when chicken with sun-dried  tomatoes was revolutionary. Is it time for a comeback? Maybe throw in a ball of Toonsbridge mozzarella? I can think of nothing nicer.

Rocket pesto is another of my favourites and it is particularly good with chicken. I follow the same recipe as for wild garlic pesto: 250g rocket, 300ml oil, 75g nuts (pine nuts, hazelnuts or almonds) and 75g Parmesan or mature Irish cheddar (Mount Callan cheese from Sheridans is one of my favourites). Adding a layer of oil on top of the rocket pesto will help it keep for at least two weeks in the fridge. You can also freeze the pesto for up to six months with no loss of flavour.

Probably my greatest grind regarding cooking chicken is the amount we over cook it. Buy a meat thermometer. For breast, I cook to 65 or 70 degrees, for chicken on the bone I cook to 70 to 75 degrees. Always remember the temperature of the meat will rise three to five degrees after resting so you need to factor this in.

How to pan-fry the perfect chicken breast

Heat some oil in a pan and season the chicken with salt. Fry skin side down until it is nice and crisp. Do not turn it over.

Add a large knob of butter and thyme and baste on a lower heat for three minutes.

Transfer into a 180 degrees oven and cook until it reaches the desired temperature.

Rest for three to five minutes in a warm place. Slice and finish with a little Achill Island sea salt. 

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