You don't always have to grill chicken or bake it. (I have to tell myself this because those are my go-to methods.) Pan-cooked chicken is yummy and fast: juices get locked in the caramelizing, browning flavors form in the bottom of the pan--a small amount of liquid and a pat of butter becomes a sauce in seconds.
Fresco chicken has a clean, acidic 'just-picked' tomato-y flavor married with lime, cilantro, and garlic...juicy browned chicken jumping in fresh salsa...(say that three times fast) It is so good, and so easy. I love to have it with plain rice on the side, and to serve more people, some black beans as well.
"This chicken just screams summer-eating outdoors."
Notes: Cotija cheese is by Queso Fresco.
FRESCO PAN CHICKEN
Ingredients: 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 2 cloves minced garlic, zest and juice of one lime, 1 cup cherry tomatoes, 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro, 1/4 + 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 1/4 cup Cotija cheese, 1/2 tsp. sea salt and cracked pepper.
1. Rinse and pat dry the chicken breasts, then place them between two sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper. Using a rolling pin or heavy mallet, gently whack the breasts until they are slightly spread out and flattened. (you don't want to split the muscle fibers) Cut each breast in half following the diagonal of the grain.
2. Marinate the chicken: add 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic, lime juice and salt into a large zip-lock bag with the chicken. Seal and squish around to coat, chill in refrigerator 30 minutes (or up to 1 hour) then remove to come to room temperature for another 30 minutes.
3. Heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil over medium-high heat in a cast iron or non-stick skillet. Cook the chicken on the first side for 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and cracked pepper.
4. Flip the chicken and cook on the second side for 4-5 minutes, chicken will be a nice golden color. Turn heat down to medium and with the back of a spoon, press the tomatoes until they burst. Scoop the broken tomatoes up and over the chicken. Continue cooking chicken, turning every minute or so, until cooked through or internal temperature reaches 165*.
5. Remove from heat and scatter over the cilantro and cheese. Serve.
Tip: For extra credit, make a pan sauce. Remove chicken with tomatoes, cilantro and cheese to a platter. Add 1 Tbsp. butter and 1/3 cup beer to the pan, scraping up browned bits and cooking until reduced and lightly thickened. Pour over the chicken before serving.