The meat on a chicken is either white or dark, depending upon where it is on the bird. Breast meat is white because it develops more fat over time, unlike the legs, which do the work of carrying the bird around. So a whole or half chicken breast can be quite thick and difficult to pan-fry. The secret lies in reducing the thickness so that the chicken cooks evenly. Using this method, you can cook a thick boneless, skinless chicken breast on top of the stove and have it on the table in about 30 minutes.
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Use the tongs to remove the chicken breast from the packaging and lay it out onto waxed paper. Pat it dry with paper towels. Discard the paper towels and packaging immediately.
Place another sheet of waxed paper over the chicken breast to completely cover it. Use a meat mallet or rolling pin to pound the meat until it measures a uniform 1/2-inch thickness from end to end. Discard the top piece of waxed paper.
Heat about 1 tablespoon of butter or olive oil in the sauté pan over medium-high until it's hot but not smoking and, using the tongs, place the chicken breast carefully in the pan. Season the top of the chicken breast with salt and pepper to taste, and cook for one minute.
Flip the chicken breast, season the other side with salt and pepper, and cook the other side for about a minute. Cover the pan and cook for 10 more minutes over low heat without lifting the lid. Set a timer to remind you of when the exact time has elapsed.
Turn the burner off and let the pan rest for another 10 minutes with the cover still on to retain the steam and help the juices redistribute throughout the chicken breast.
Remove the lid and serve the chicken breast immediately, or allow it to cool slightly before using it in a recipe or refrigerating it for use later. Insert a meat thermometer into the center of the chicken breast and look for a temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit, which indicates that the meat is safe to eat.