How to keep your chicken juicy – but not too juicy

The Washington Post Food staff food writer Katie Workman and Peter Prime, a DC restaurant owner/chef, recently answered questions about all things edible. Here are edited excerpts from that chat.

Q: Do you have any suggestions about how to get the added water out of chicken parts? I notice it most with boneless/skinless thigh meat, but also with bone-in parts. When I try to sauté it, it is mostly just cooking in rendered water instead of browning in oil. I’ve tried draining it in a colander briefly, but it didn’t seem to help.

A: Make sure to pat the chicken totally dry with a clean dish towel or paper towels before adding them to the pan. And start with high enough heat to allow the outside to sear instead of just heat.

Q: I grill chicken breasts for 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees. I do not marinate them, as they are not intended for one specific recipe. The chicken is done but juicy, but it also tends to be tough. I do not buy the breasts that have obvious “strings” in them. Is there something I can do to keep them from being tough?

A: Doesn’t sound like the breasts are overcooked if still juicy Try resting them for a few minutes after cooking and then slice against the grain (across the breast), if nothing else that will eliminate the long “strings”.

Q: I’m now the proud owner of an entire pound of yeast, which I’m keeping in an airtight container in the fridge. How long before starting a bread recipe should I take it out to come to room temperature? Or does that not matter?

A: Doesn’t matter! Also feel free to put it in the freezer to last even longer. Again, use it right away, no need to wait.

A: I second what Becky wrote. I keep mine in the freezer and just use it straight out of the freezer – it’s never failed me.

Q: I am so frustrated with my skillet. I faithfully followed the care directions in your article, but the pan developed sticky spots. I queried Lodge customer service, who recommended scrubbing with a stiff brush to remove them and then just putting on a very thin coat of oil and rubbing with a paper towel till all excess was absorbed, no heat required. I did that. The next time I used the pan, it developed more sticky spots. I remember now why I didn’t like the pan I had years ago. I’m at my wits’ end. Help!

A: I would try filling it with a quarter of an inch of oil and heating it for 20 minutes on the stove. Then let the oil cool, pour it out, and wipe with a paper towel.

Q: I have an old recipe that makes many loaves of bread. I have little room in the freezer. Is there some trick to keeping the bread from growing stale? Fridge better than nothing? Particular type of wrap?

A: The fridge will make it stale/dry out faster. Airtight only helps so much. Can you just scale down the recipe? Either that, find some friends to share with or just plan on making something with the stale bread – French toast, bread pudding, breadcrumbs.

Pat chicken dry before cooking dishes like this honey citrus chicken. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST