Can you barely fry an egg? Toast bread? Congrats on checking out Chowhound then. While most of you are beyond microwave meals, even experienced cooks need to be reminded of the fundamentals. From the store to the kitchen to the table: We outline the steps that get you from something raw to something cooked using simple ingredients, free of measurements and complicated techniques. A method that you can have in your back pocket and whip out whenever you like. We call it recipe-free cooking.
- Frying pan and a baking dish
- Meat thermometer or a metal fork
- Salt and pepper
- Cajun spice mix (optional)
- Olive oil
- Bone-in, skin-on chicken breast
- Heat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. (Ovens take at least 20 minutes to warm up.)
- Rub the chicken all over with a good amount of olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper. If you have it, sprinkle on Cajun spice mix.
- Heat a frying pan over high heat for a few minutes. If it gets too hot and starts to smoke, take it off the stove to cool a bit. Put the chicken, breast side down, in the dry pan. Your chicken should sizzle. Don’t move it around, because the skin is becoming crispy and browned.
- After about three minutes, flip the chicken over with tongs and put it in the oven to finish cooking. (If you’re not using an oven-safe frying pan, transfer the chicken to a baking dish first.)
- After about 15 minutes, take the chicken out to check it. If it’s done, it will register 160 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit on a meat thermometer. If a metal fork or a skewer stuck inside the breast for 30 seconds doesn’t feel hot when you pull it out and hold it against your skin, or the chicken feels spongy when you poke it, it’s not there yet. Put it back in for another five minutes.
- Take the chicken out and let it rest for five minutes so the juices settle before eating.
BONUS LESSON: Make a sauce by deglazing the pan.
- Wooden spoon
- White wine or vermouth
- Pour enough wine or vermouth into the pan you used to cook the chicken to just cover the bottom.
- Cook the alcohol over medium heat, scraping up the browned bits of chicken and spice with the wooden spoon, until the sauce has thickened or “reduced.” You can tell it’s ready if you pull your spoon through the sauce and you can see the bottom of your pan for a couple of seconds before the liquid covers it again.
- Add a pat of butter and stir until it’s melted. Taste to see if the sauce needs salt. Pour the sauce over the chicken.
Here are ideas of what to do with this wonderful roast chicken breast you just made. Or some great sides and twists for it.
1. Best Chicken Quesadillas
If you want to keep it simple, grab a tortilla or two and some melty cheese and make a pan-fried chicken quesadilla. While many of us adults love and crave these things, they’re kid-friendly too. Great for a weeknight meal. So good. Get our Best Chicken Quesadilla recipe.
Slivered almonds, dried cherries and chopped celery add interesting crunchy and chewy textures, plus nutty sweetness to the chicken in this sandwich filling that uses mayonnaise and mustard as the dressing. Get our Chicken Salad Sandwich recipe.
This dish may sound a little French or at least European, but it was first mentioned in New York City in the late 1800s. Chicken swims in a creamy sauce with mushrooms, peas, and herbs in a pastry crust. Get our Chicken à la King recipe.
4. Perfect Roast Potatoes
Instead of making a whole new recipe with the roast chicken, just add some good sides. The chicken already had some flavor with the sauce. As you’re roasting something already, these wedges are welcome for their ease, taste, and texture. Get our Perfect Roast Potatoes recipe.
5. Roasted Baby Carrots with Mustard-Herb Butter
If you’re already going this route, throw some sweet carrots into the deal. These have a little zing with the mustard-herb butter. Get our Roasted Baby Carrots with Mustard-Herb Butter recipe.
6. Chicken Pot Pie Bites
First you gotta make these adorable little pastry cups, which takes a little patience and dedication. Then you do the filling. The result is flaky, buttery goodness with a creamy chicken and vegetable middle. Get our Chicken Pot Pie Bites recipe.
Baked chicken breasts are pretty easy too. Especially these, which use the sweet acidity of oranges and the spicy tang of mustard to create a simple sauce that helps moisten the lean meat. Get our Orange-Honey Mustard Baked Chicken Breasts recipe.
— First posted by editors on Jan. 23, 2008; updated by Amy Sowder on August 2, 2016.