How to cook a tender breast chicken

If you know the answer to the title’s question, I would love to hear your solution. Mine is very simple, so simple it had skipped my mind to make it into a blog post until a friend asked about it just recently.

 Traditional Persian cuisine rarely involves the use of oven. So, to cook breast chicken, to accompany for instance lentil mixed rice or barberries mixed rice, we either fry, boil or use a combination of the two methods. These methods however, are best suited for very young and small chickens. On the other hand, I personally find most of the packaged breast chickens available in the supermarkets a bit too big and old, resulting in a dry and bland chicken dish if I were to boil and/or fry them. So, here is my simple solution to get a really tender and juicy chicken breast dish.

  • Ingredients: (serves 2, to go with mixed rice)
  • Two skinned chicken breast halves, boned and defatted (or three halves, if the chicken is medium)
  • One large onion, coarsely sliced.
  • Two tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon saffron, dissolved in lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • Salt and black powdered pepper, as desired.

Method: Wash and dry chicken halves then slice lengthwise about ½ cm.  Pound the halves, then place in a bowl with onion and olive oil. Mix and let rest in the refrigerator for an hour, with closed lid.

Add lemon juice, saffron, salt and pepper and place in 350 F oven, with closed lid, for 45 minutes or until thoroughly cooked.  This will produce the type of breast chicken dish you might want to serve with any Persian mixed rice. Simply transfer the chicken halves into a shallow bowl along with some of the juice.

To get a more roasted-like dish, at the end of 45 minutes, remove the lid and turn oven to broil for 5 to 10 minutes, depending how much juice you still have in the bowl. Take out from the oven when the juice thickens and the cooked breasts get a bit crispy on top. Don’t let it go completely dry through! Serve in a platter with steam-cooked vegetables and/or roasted potatoes.

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