Mark Bittman: North African Spiced Chicken Breasts


By Meghan Gourley

Occasionally, we test a recipe that doesn't make it to print. Here's one that we loved and thought people should see: chicken breast with cumin and honey. We understand the fear of undercooking chicken, but if you learn how to gauge doneness correctly you will end up with perfectly juicy, moist chicken breast every time.

About four to six minutes per side is all it takes, depending on the quirks of your oven or grill. You'll know it's done when you cut the breast with a knife and clear juices run out. (Or if a meat thermometer registers 155 dgF.) It's easy to get distracted by the sizzle of honey and olive oil and the tang of cumin wafting through the air but try to resist. The last thing you want to do is overcook the chicken.

North-African Spiced Chicken Breast

4 chicken breast halves (or 2 whole chicken breasts)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon minced garlic
salt and freshly ground pepper
lemon wedges
fresh parsley
yogurt (optional)

Heat a broiler or grill to medium heat and put the rack 4 inches from the heat source. If you're broiling, put the chicken in the pan in which you'll cook it. Combine the olive oil, honey, dry sherry, cumin, garlic, and some salt and pepper in a bowl. Spoon the mixture over both sides of the chicken. Grill or broil chicken breast halves for 4 to 6 minutes per side (a tad longer if you're cooking two whole breasts), until browned and just cooked through. Sprinkle with lemon juice and garnish with fresh parsley and lemon wedge. Optional: serve with a dollop of yogurt.

Here are 9 more ways to sauté, poach and roast chicken breasts.

Mark Bittman's award-winning How to Cook Everything has helped countless home cooks discover the rewards of simple cooking. Now the ultimate cookbook has been revised and expanded (almost half the material is new), making it absolutely indispensable for anyone who cooks-or wants to. With Bittman's straightforward instructions and advice, you'll make crowd-pleasing food using fresh, natural ingredients; simple techniques; and basic equipment. Even better, you'll discover how to relax and enjoy yourself in the kitchen as you prepare delicious meals for every occasion.