I used to eat Pop Tarts for breakfast (and sometimes lunch) when I was uni, so I never thought I’d go all Martha Stuart and advise people how to cook, but here I am.
Owing to that last statement I understand if you want to completely disregard my advice. I’d never make it on Masterchef, but I know how to make some tasty chicken, and if you eat a lot of chicken, that’s pretty important. Here goes…
Rightly or wrong, chicken is the staple food of most gym rats.
It might not be the cheapest meat around or have the optimal macro-nutrient profile (if such a thing exists), but it’s incredibly versatile, portable (ever tried eating steak out of a Tupperware container?), and tastes great – IF you cook it well.
Chicken, Rice and Broccoli is widely perceived as the go-to meal for muscle building, and the sight of such a concoction is often met with questions of ‘how can you eat that, it must be so dry‘, often from people who enjoy their chicken covered in breadcrumbs, or accompanied by bacon and cheese, and slathered in BBQ sauce.
Well it doesn’t need to be like that, sure chicken can be bland and laborious to eat if you nuke it in the microwave or lob in the oven and leave it for hours, but as anyone that’s been to Nando’s before knows, if you get chicken right, it tastes like the nectar of the gods.
So here’s my step-by-step guide to cooking chicken that you’ll never get bored of eating;
1. Buy Chicken Thighs, Not Chicken Breast
If you think about it, ONLY eating chicken breasts makes no sense, yes, they are the leanest part of the bird, but as we all know there’s NOTHING wrong with fat.
Let’s take a look at the comparison between breasts and thighs;
Ok, thighs have slightly less protein, but if you’re having 200g a day, we’re talking 10g here – a negligible amount (about half a scoop of protein powder).
Thighs also have more fat, and this means more calories.
Thighs are also considerably cheaper than breasts, meaning you’re getting a much better bang for your buck calorie-wise.
Finally, thighs taste MUCH better, and are easier to cook well.
2. Start with the grill
Get a grill pan like the one in this picture. You could use a Wok or frying pan but you don’t really get the same result.
Put the grill pan on the hob on FULL heat – allow it to sit there for a good 15 minutes (from turning it on) to ensure the pan is a hot as possible.
3. Lube up
Chuck a teaspoon of Coconut Oil in the pan, if you don’t like the taste of Coconut, stop being a pussy.
Also don’t worry because it won’t make your chicken taste like a fun-size Bounty.
Tilt the pan around a bit so the oil covers all of it.
4. Smash the Chicken in There
I can fit about 1Kgs worth of chicken thigh in the pan I’ve got, but slap in as much as you can, don’t worry about butterflying the thighs or anything, all of each piece will end up getting equal heat distribution.
This will make or break your chicken, so don’t miss this step out. You can use whatever seasoning you want, but I highly recommend Schwarz’ Season All’. God knows what’s in it, but it kind of tastes like Steak McCoys. Sprinkle liberally all over the exposed side of the thighs, and do the same to the other side when you turn them over.
It’s the high heat burning the seasoning into the flesh that gives it the flavour, so as I said, make sure the pan is as hot as possible, and you use lots of seasoning.
6. Grill Them for a bit
I don’t really time how long they’re in the grill pan for, but you want a dark brown glaze on each side, so leave them in there ’til you get that. You’ll probably need to turn them a couple of times, and move them around a bit in the pan – the ones in the middle will get the most heat, so try and make sure they all get an equal amount. No biggie if they don’t. Usually around 15 minutes does the job.
7. Shove Them in the Oven
The reason I finish these bad boys off in the oven is because if you continue to grill on high heat until they’re cooked through, they’ll be dryer than the Gobi Desert.
Have the oven somewhere between 170 and 200 degrees, doesn’t really matter, put the thighs on a tray, and leave them in the oven for another 15-20 minutes. As long as they’re not pink in the middle, they’re done.
Marvel at the wondrous creation you’ve just brought into the world. I don’t think even God was this proud on the seventh day.
Basic mathematics tells you that 1Kg will last you the working week if you’re having 200g a day, so not only is this method tasty, it also saves you a bunch of time. No cooking work food during the week.
In total this will probably only take 45 minutes.
Hope you found this useful, I don’t think Jaime Oliver’s going to be looking over his shoulder any time soon, but at least now you’ve got no excuses for laboriously chewing through anemic, parched chicken breasts.
Joe is an online coach and qualified personal trainer of 15 years who helps busy, professional men and women lose weight and build muscle.
Having a 9-5 desk-job, Joe understands the struggles of juggling a hectic life with trying to maintain a good physique.