Is there anything less inspiring than a boneless-skinless chicken breast? There must be, but for the sake of this post, let's say there's not. So, how do we turn this culinary snoozer into something worthwhile? Fry it. Hey, that was easy.
Of course, the problem here is there's no flavorful skin on which to attach a crunchy coating. To add insult to injury, the fatty skin also protects the bland breast from drying out. Despite these obvious issues I decided to attempt Southern-fried boneless-skinless chicken breasts anyway.
As fate would have it, the same day I bought the chicken, Alton Brown was doing a honey-brined pork shoulder on Good Eats. To combat the dreaded dry chicken I decided to use a simplified variation to soak my breasts.
I won't bore you with all the scientific details, but through osmosis, brining raises the internal temperature at which the moisture is forced out of a protein. Even though I only brined my breasts for an hour, it worked like a charm. As you'll see in the recipe video, the meat was very juicy.
As far as the skinless-coating went, I was also pleasantly surprised. Even though it was incredibly thin, it stayed on the meat throughout the frying, and the final result was nothing short of quite good.
And yes, I am calling this low-fat (relative to regular Southern-fried chicken). When you eliminate the skin, you significantly reduce the calorie count, and even though we're cooking this is lots of oil, the coating is too thin to absorb very much of it.
If frying isn't your thing, still I encourage you to give this ultra-simple brine a try anyway. I think you will be impressed with its effect. I plan on using this on a regular basis this summer while rocking the grill. Enjoy!
2 boneless-skinless chicken breasts
3 cups cold water
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
lots of cayenne
vegetable oil for frying