Friday, January 21, 2011

Fool Proof Blackened Chicken Breast

One of the staples of a low carb diet is grilled chicken breast.  Needless to say, I have cooked many chicken breasts and through lots of trial and error (I have eaten my fair share of dry and tastless chicken breast), I finally have developed a fool proof recipe that will end up with a juicy and tasty chicken breast every time.

The #1 key ingredient is a good cast iron pan.  Nothing will retain heat and get the type of char/blackening like a good ole' cast iron skillet.  Besides, you can pick one up for less than $20 at Academy.  *Note-You MUST follow proper cast iron care.  I will post some care instructions and tips for cast iron soon.

4 to 6 Skinless Boneless Chicken Breasts
2 Tbsp Oil (Not Olive Oil, I recommend Canola or other high flash point oil)
Salt, Black Pepper, Fajita Seasoning, Red Pepper, Garlic Powder, Paprika

Warning:  Alert anyone else in the house that you are about to blacken chicken, and in our case I usually put the dogs outside too.  I think I have created a new behavior in them, as soon as they smell smoke in the kitchen, they dart for the back door and beg to go out, because they know that fire alarms are soon to come.  You are trying to blacken the outside of the chicken so there will be some smoke.  By following this technique, you should minimize the smoke and avoid the fire alarms going off.  Turn on the oven vent fan, turn on an overhead fan or box fan in the kitchen for air circulation, and open a window if the weather is nice.  This will help circulate any smoke that you make pretty quickly.

Blackened Skillet Chicken Fresh Out of the Oven.

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F.  Coat the chicken with the seasonings on both sides (go easy on the paprika, this aids the blackening but also smokes up alot).  You can flatten the chicken breasts out a little if you would like, but I found that this recipe even works really well without all the hassle of pounding the chicken thin.

2.  Place your cast iron skillet on the stovetop and turn on high.  Put the oil in the skillet and let it get searing hot. By getting the skillet hot you should be able to speed up the blackening process to reduce the smoke problem a bit. You can toss in a drop of water to test the skillet, it should sizzle, dance around like crazy, and evaporate rapidly.  Carefully place the chicken breasts in the hot skillet and cook 1 to 2 minutes, or until you have a good blackened crust.  Flip and repeat.  The chicken will not be cooked all the way through and will be raw in the center.  We are ONLY trying to get a blackened crust on the outside of the chicken, you do NOT want to cook it all the way through on the stovetop.

3.  Now take the skillet off of the burner and put it in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  The reasons for doing this is because if you were to leave it on the stove top to cook all the way through you would end up with a dry piece of chicken.  Also, I have found that using the oven cuts down on the amount of smoke that you will get in the house.

Blackened Chicken with Creamed Spinach and Steamed Broccolli
This chicken is versatile.  You can top it with a sauce, cut it up and put it on a salad, chop it and put it in a casserole, cook it with some onion and bell pepper to make fajitas, ect.  I would welcome any new suggestions to re-invent the left over blackened chicken.

1 comment:

  1. I read your answer to my question about how you are following low carb. I like the way you are doing it. That way you will be able to may it a life style change.
    Just this past year I purchased a cast iron skillet and grill pan. Beside being heavy they have a routine of there own. I am anxious to see how you suggest dealing with them.