3-Ingredient Chicken Breast Recipe (with the Best Marinade)

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Part of the problem with dinner parties is figuring out what food you can make that everyone will like. It's almost impossible, right? I'm lucky because my husband will eat anything (I love him for it), but my daughter is picky. Fortunately, I know what he likes.

In fact, I made her a list of her favorite foods that she updates regularly. As we know, kids are forever changing their minds on things. Some of the constants on his list are chicken, macaroni and cheese, and salad (not sure how I made that). I also know that she loves mustard and anything sweet and sour.

So I rely on this three-ingredient chicken as a weekly meal — my daughter loves it. Not counting oil, salt, and pepper, it's just chicken, honey mustard, and lemon marinated for a while. I like to prepare the dish during lunch and let it marinate in the fridge until dinner, but as little as 30 minutes works. During this time, I can make any side dish and then cook the chicken.

My 3 Ingredient Chicken Recipe

To make 4 servings, you will need:

  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 tablespoons honey mustard
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons avocado or other neutral oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Working with one breast at a time, place the chicken in a zip-top bag and pound it until it is evenly thickened, about 1/2 inch.

Place honey mustard, lemon juice, garlic, and 1/4 cup oil in a small bowl and stir to combine. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the marinade (you'll use it to serve the chicken), transfer the rest of the marinade to the bag with the chicken. Seal the bag and turn to coat the chicken. Place it in the refrigerator and marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours.

Set a large cast iron skillet over medium heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Once the oil is hot, remove the chicken from the marinade, shake off any excess, and add to the skillet. Discard the chicken marinade.

Season the top with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown and internal temperature reaches 165°F. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes.

Add the lemon zest to the reserved marinade and stir to combine. Slice the chicken and drizzle with the sauce.

A few tips for making my 3-ingredient chicken

Although the dish is very simple, it's helpful to know a few things before you begin.

  1. The best cut of chicken: I use boneless, skinless chicken breast for this dish because it's my family's favorite. However, I know that boneless chicken thighs and tenders will work just as well. You may need to adjust the timing slightly if you do this swap, but a thermometer makes this easy.
  2. Chicken pound: Chicken breasts are almost comical in size these days — so big! This makes it difficult to cook it evenly. To correct this, I always sear my chicken breasts to thickness. This allows the chicken to cook at an even rate, preventing under or overcooking. I like to use a plastic bag and the flat side of a meat grinder to accomplish this, but plastic wrap and a rolling pin will also work. Just don't be too aggressive or you'll tear the meat instead of flattening it.
  3. Double duty mustard sauce: Pickles are also used as a finishing sauce. Choose the honey mustard you like, or make your own by mixing equal parts honey and Dijon mustard. Be sure to make some reserves. First Add the chicken. Once raw chicken is there, it is no longer safe to use.
  4. A wet chicken will burn.: Remove as much of the marinade from your chicken before adding it to the hot skillet. If you don't, the chicken will stick to your pan and burn. If you notice this happening, take your pan off the heat and wait for it to cool, then add it back to the heat, lowering the temperature if necessary.
  5. Serve the chicken plain.: I personally like to serve it with a salad (one of my daughter's favorites) and either roasted potatoes (they can be roasted while marinating the chicken) or crusty bread. Sometimes I'll serve it with lightly sautéed broccoli or pan-seared green beans and then pour extra sauce over everything.

Just recipes / Sarah Haas


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