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Ask The Chef

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Dear Chef,

I’m trying to find out why we bother to pound chicken breast. It’s already very tender. Why can’t we just slice it to the thickness we want? Does the pounding somehow change it in a good way?

Thanks for your time! Melissa

There are two reasons to pound meat: to make the meat tender or to even out the thickness of the meat. You are right, chicken is already tender, but a chicken breast has a fat end and a thin end. If the fat end of the chicken is thoroughly cooked, then the thin end will be dry and overcooked. Pounding out the fat end of the chicken breast to the same thickness as the thin end ensures even cooking of the meat. To pound, place the meat under a piece of parchment paper so that the pounder does not tear the meat. Pounded chicken breasts should be about 1/4-inch thick.

Here is a delicious chicken recipe that requires pounding the chicken and is a perfect dish to enjoy ripe, home-grown tomatoes that are currently in season.

Chicken Caprese

  • 4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • Salt, pepper, and paprika
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tomatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1 ball of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 1 bunch basil, julienned

Place each chicken breast between two pieces of parchment paper and pound to an even thickness. Season well with salt, pepper, and paprika. Heat the oil in a skillet and brown the chicken, turning once, for about 3 minutes a side. Remove to a baking dish. Add the garlic to the hot pan and stir until cooked, about 30 seconds. Spread on top of the chicken. Top the chicken with the tomatoes, basil, and cheese. Bake at 475 for 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

3 Comments for “Ask the Chef: Pounding Chicken”  

  1. mmorpg

    Interesting. I always assumed my mother did it because she was pissed off. That’s probably why my chicken comes out uneven ;(

  2. Anonymous

    I found that using plastic wrap for pounding chicken better then parchment paper, as it does not rip as easy as parchment does.

  3. Anne

    Thanks for the suggestion. Since plastic wrap is clear, I can’t see if it rips (and it does). So I like parchment paper because the white paper is always visible.