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Broiled chicken breasts are chicken pieces that have been cooked very quickly at very high oven temperatures. The breasts are usually placed on a broiler pan and sit very close to the top heat coil inside the oven. Oven broiling is a wintertime alternative to grilling because it gives the chicken a similar flavor.
High temperatures and very direct heat help broiled chicken breasts bake all the way through without losing too much flavor. Many ovens even have a broiler setting that brings the heat up to 500°F (260°C). Temperatures like this quickly sear meat, which can seal in juices, though broiled chicken breasts can dry out and scorch if left unattended.
A broiler pan is very useful when broiling chicken breasts. These pans usually feature a very shallow dripping pan topped with a grooved lid. Slots in the lid let excess juices and fats drip into the dripping pan, preventing sparks in the high heat. The airspace inside the broiler pan allows the heat to circulate evenly around the meat. Cooks without such a pan may set a baking rack on top of a cookie sheet to simulate one.
Home cooks who want to make broiled chicken breasts at home should note the differences between skin-on and skinless chicken breasts. Skin-on breasts may be broiled without additional flavoring and generally require about eight minutes of heating on each side. Skinless breasts require only five or six minutes on each side and should be coated with a sauce, breading, or spices to help keep them moist. Adding grilling spices or marinades may also offer the home cook countless flavor options.
To cook in this manner, the top rack or shelf of the oven should be moved to about eight inches (20.3 cm) below the top heating coil before pre-heating the oven. Moving the rack afterward is possible, but the cook must use a potholder to protect his or her hands. The cook should prepare the chicken breasts while the oven heats and then place them evenly across the broiling pan.
Unlike baked chicken breasts, broiled chicken breasts must be flipped. When the first side is finished cooking, the cook must remove the pan from the oven, turn the breasts over and place the pan back inside the oven. One may also check the internal temperature of the broiled chicken breasts with a food thermometer at this time. Chicken measures 165°F (about 74°C) when fully cooked.
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