Learning how to cook is truly a skill that requires effort and practice, practice and more practice, even if you’re just trying to add a little excitement to a bowl of Ramen. It’s a learning process and we all make mistakes, so don’t give up if your first chicken dish ends up in the circular file.
Josh and Mike Greenfield of Brothers Green fame have some share-worthy tips to avoid some common pitfalls, so if you’re just starting out, you’ll definitely want to check these out.
1. Remove excess moisture
Pat down the meat with a paper or cloth towel if you want to caramelize the skin. If you cook it in all those extra juices, you’ll just end up with boiled chicken.
2. Make sure the chicken is even, not too thick in any one place
Chicken dries out easily so it’s already hard to cook, but making sure the meat is even will make it much easier. Place the breast in a plastic bag, then pound on it until the meat is evenly distributed.
3. Coat with plenty of seasoning
The seasoning on the outside has to flavor the entire piece of meat, not just the outside. A lot of new cooks mess up by following recipes precisely – and most recipes skimp on seasonings.
4. Let the meat sit to soak up the flavors
Let it sit out on the counter or even in the fridge for at least 10 minutes. That allows the salt to soak up excess moisture and help with the caramelizing process.
5. Control the heat on your pan
See those dials on your stovetop? They range from simmer to medium-high to high. Use them. If things start to smoke or aren’t cooking evenly, adjust the knobs accordingly.
6. Preheat the pan
Before you add the oil, make sure the pan is already lightly smoking; otherwise, the oil will degrade as it heats up.
7. Use enough oil to ensure everything cooks properly
Some people refrain from using enough oil out of health concerns, but just go with a healthier version, like coconut oil.
8. Allow the crust on the meat to develop gradually
Put the pan on medium-low heat and cook the chicken for about four minutes, and when it’s caramelized, flip it over and cook the other side for 2-3 minutes.
9. Take the chicken out of the pan when it’s firm but still has some give
Chicken doesn’t have to be cooked through and through; covering it with tin foil and letting it sit allows it to still cook without the risk of burning.
10. Let the chicken sit for at least 10 minutes
This allows it time to reabsorb the juices. And save any leftover juice that seeped out, because it can be used for extra flavoring.
11. Cut the vegetables beforehand
It’s a hassle moving between a stove where you’re cooking chicken to your cutting board. It’s better to just get this done ahead of time.
12. Create a plan ahead of time
Some vegetables cook faster than others, so look them over and decide which ones should go in the pan first. Save the aromatics (onions, herbs, etc.) for last, since they’ll burn at a high temperature.
As with chicken, vegetables don’t have to be completely cooked before removing them from the heat.
13. Let the vegetables sit for a while, without stirring
Doing this allows them to still receive heat and develop tasty crusts, then you can stir to let the flavors develop.
14. Add leafy greens such as spinach or cabbage last
They wilt quickly.
15. Pick out some good seasonings for added flavor
Putting in a dash of soy sauce, sesame oil and something acidic, like lemons, limes or vinegar, will help bring out the taste of the dish.
16. Pay attention to presentation
Food always seems to taste better when it’s presented in an attractive manner. If you’re trying to impress someone, skip the paper plates and put it in a nice dish, then drop in some sesame seeds, sprigs of cilantro or other garnish.
For more on these tips, check out the video below.
Share these handy tips today to help out a fellow beginner, and happy cooking!