Tired of dried-out chicken? Here’s how to pick and cook the perfect skinless breast.

Chicken is a lean, versatile protein high in several essential B vitamins. Choose organic chicken breast if it’s in your budget. These chickens were raised on non-GMO feed. Organic chicken thighs are often more economical and make delicious meals, including hearty soups.

When buying skinless, boneless breasts, look for chicken that is odorless and has firm flesh and a matte surface — it shouldn’t look shiny, oily or dried out.

To keep breasts juicy, use a combination of two cooking techniques, searing and baking. The fast cooking time at the high heat ensures that the chicken stays moist.

Be safe: Always wash your hands after handling raw chicken and be sure meat is completely cooked.

Foolproof Chicken Breasts

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, about 6 ounces each
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle seasoning or 1/2 teaspoon each salt and chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola, safflower or grapeseed oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season chicken with the spices.

Heat a cast iron skillet large enough to hold all the breasts over high heat. When hot, add the oil. When the oil glistens, add the breasts, top side down, and cook without moving for about 2 minutes until well browned. Flip the breasts and repeat on the other side.

Slide the skillet into the preheated oven and bake for about 6 to 8 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink inside and a cooking thermometer reads 165 degrees. Transfer meat to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute.

Slice and serve with your choice of vegetable and a whole grain like couscous or brown rice.

Yield: 4 servings

More information

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has more on the correct cooking temperature for various cuts of chicken as well as other proteins.