We all have those weeknights where we get home super late and still have to scramble to get dinner together. Luckily, as a Newbie Chef, I’m pretty familiar with how to throw together the most basic of meals with the least amount of effort.
On nights when I’ve come home from a long workout and need a hearty, nutrient-packed meal, I go for baked chicken breast. Now, I basically used to be President of the Chicken Fingers Fan Club. I thought chicken that wasn’t breaded and deep fried was just for Grandma!
Suffice it to say, I’ve discovered that oven chicken is not only ridiculously easy to make, but actually tastes amazing. You can pair it with a veggie side dish that slow-simmers or steams while the chicken bakes and you catch u on other things – laundry, dishes, shower, whatever!
Kitchen Hack: Perfect Juicy Oven Poached Chicken with Parchment Paper
Gone are the days of dry, chewy chicken. This chicken is so tender and moist, you won’t even need a knife to cut it.
First tip – Buy organic, cage-free chicken if available. I’ve seen one too many documentaries about Chicken Jail. Picture windowless rooms packed wall-to-wall with obese corn-fed chickens that have lost their ability to even walk. NOT COOL. Chickens that roam free and eat grass and bugs are happy, healthy chickens – which makes a happy, healthy you. Also – it tastes SO MUCH BETTER.
Second tip – Chicken breast doesn’t have a lot of natural fat in it, so it tends to dry out when baking. The solution is to create a sort of ‘false skin’ for the chicken, which helps to keep all the juices inside rather than spilling out and evaporating in your oven. This is called dry poaching, and can be done with Parchment Paper.
Here’s how to do it:
- Preheat oven to 400ºF
- Pour about 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil into a baking or casserole dish
- Wash your boneless skinless chicken breast in room temp water. Pat with paper towel to dry.
- Place chicken in dish and rub it around in the oil to spread the oil evenly. Flip it once to coat both sides of the chicken.
- Add your seasonings to the chicken. You can pretty much go any direction here. I usually add a hearty squirt of lemon juice. For a kick, try cayenne pepper, seasoning salt, curry or chili powder. Or, go the herbal route with basil, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
- You can also add veggies, onions, apricots, peaches and just about anything to the dish itself.
- Once the chicken is seasoned, take a square of parchment paper that’s small enough to fit within the dish. Press the parchment paper into the oily residue at the bottom of the dish to soak it up and coat the paper.
- Lay the paper atop the chicken and tuck the edges into the dish.
- Bake for 20 minutes and then test with a meat thermometer. Perfect temp is around 170 – 175.
- If it needs additional cook, return to the oven without the parchment paper.
In the picture below, I’ve paired my chicken with some super simple steamed brussels sprouts steamed in a microwavable bag. (Added bonus: I was able to use the leftover sprouts as a salad base the next day).