A MasterChef champion reveals the best way to cook a chicken breast

When I get to toot my own horn (which is very rare), I make sure everyone hears my tune. As a frugal Millennial in a very expensive city, I can proudly say I am very good at ballin’ on a budget, especially when it comes to a trip to the grocery store. You may even call me the poster child for it.

The trips to the store usually unfold the same way: I pick out my weekly staples, grab whichever cut of meat is most affordable, and close my eyes as I walk past the bakery. This way I give my wallet a break, without really thinking twice about the quality (or lack thereof).

After a while of this, I decided to allow myself a bit more leeway on the food. I’m only going to be this age once, and I might as well eat the best food out there (I am a food writer after all). Besides, there are plenty of ways to take broccoli and chicken and grilled cheeses up a level with a few more ingredients.

Splurging on good chicken, in particular chicken breast, goes a very long way. But that’s only if you know what you’re doing. But where will you get all this great chicken knowledge you speak of? A Reddit AMA from chef Gary Maclean, a winner of MasterChef: The Professionals, provides your answers and all other chicken/food related things.

In direct response to the question “what’s your best advice for cooking restaurant quality, moist chicken breast at home?”, his response was very useful. He first advised to “buy the best chicken possible” always trying to avoid “cheap chicken”. The reason? It’s “full of water and will be poor even if cooked properly.”

If it’s not water, it’s other saline solutions that your body may allow in but not agree with, making you feel sluggish and weird, especially if you don’t eat a lot of chicken. Cut back on other expenses to try and ensure you can afford the higher quality cuts of meat, not just chicken.

Maclean didn’t stop there, as he went on to reveal a few additional tips for buying and cooking the “best chicken ever”. He says “Pan fry in a very hot pan skin side down until golden, turn over on the non-skin side for a few minutes. Finish in a hot oven 200 degrees Celsius and cook until it reaches 73-75 degrees Celsius, allow to rest before cutting.”

Who knew the key to perfecting your chicken breast was to cook them on both the hob and in the oven? It’s a lot less tedious than it sounds, I promise. As for marinating, Maclean says to do it 24 hours in advance.

This makes such a huge difference compared to the usual recommended hour usually given. If you are planning to start prepping your chicken that far ahead of your cooking time, Maclean also suggested avoiding citrus and salt and opting for “spices, hard herbs and a little good oil”.

With this, you will never have to eat chicken that is “just okay” again. Get your seasoning right, and you are in for a really good lunch, brunch or dinner. Caesar salad, anyone?

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