Advice from the Mice

August 10, 2010

It’s time once again for our experts to address another in an extremely irregular series of answering reader’s questions.  Today’s email comes from Zeke in Falls Church, VA.  Zeke writes:

So yesterday I made a dish that was chicken breasts in breadcrumbs with some Cajun seasoning.  The recipe called for the chicken to be cooked about 3-4 minutes on each side.  These were big breasts and after 4 minutes on each side (at medium heat) they were not yet done.  So I cooked them longer, but by the time they were done, the breadcrumbs had blackened.  I thought that maybe cooking it on lower heat for longer might work, but I don’t know.  How do you cook the chicken for the required time without blackening the breadcrumbs? 

Thanks for your question, Zeke.  Chicken breasts definitely need more than 3-4 minutes per side, especially if they’re larger than average.  Strange that the recipe would recommend that amount of time – I’m curious if the recipe called for regular chicken breasts, and not chicken tenders or cutlets.  I can definitely see how the breadcrumbs would burn, because I’m sure those breasts took around 6-7 minutes per side.  The only breaded chicken breast recipes I’ve seen call for the chicken to either be baked or deep-fried.  Baking allows the chicken to cook well all the way through, but the breadcrumbs don’t turn out nice and crispy.  Deep frying certainly cooks the chicken and crisps the breading, but it turns a relatively healthy dish into an unhealthy one very quickly.  The thickness of the breadcrumb coating can be a factor as well – too thick and it will make the chicken take longer to cook, plus the breadcrumbs will not be uniformly crispy.

The MHK recommends the following solution:  heat a tbsp. of vegetable oil in a skillet on med-high heat.  Cook the breaded chicken for about a minute on each side until browned but not blackened.  Then transfer to a baking dish and finish in a 400 degree oven, about 15 minutes or so until chicken is cooked through.

Please let us know if you try this again, and what the result is.  Thanks so much for visiting the Mouse House Kitchen!


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