The group of enzymes in fresh pineapple called bromelain perfectly break down the connective tissues in thick, fibrous chicken breasts. This brilliant recipe uses pineapple two ways: in a cheerful salsa, and as a marinade that transforms breast meat into something closer to tender dark meat. Don’t let the marinade sit too long, he advises, or the chicken will fall apart during cooking. Fifteen minutes is the sweet spot for a recipe that clocks in, marinade and all, at 30 minutes.
Pineapple-marinated chicken breasts
Serves: 4 servings
Total time: 30 minutes
3 packed tbsp dark brown sugar
2tbsp rice vinegar
1tbsp soy sauce
1tbsp fish sauce
2tbsp olive oil, plus more for cooking
1tsp garlic powder
¼ to ½tsp ground cayenne
½tsp black pepper
165g diced fresh pineapple (1.5cm chunks)
40g finely diced red onion
2tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
2tbsp finely grated fresh pineapple, including accumulated juices
680g boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3.5cm chunks
Cooked white rice, for serving
1. In a large bowl, stir together the brown sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, garlic powder, ground cayenne and black pepper. Transfer 1 tablespoon of this marinade mixture to a separate medium bowl and add the diced pineapple, red onion and coriander. This is your salsa; toss until well mixed and set aside.
2. Add the grated pineapple and its juices to the marinade mixture in the large bowl, then add the chicken and toss to coat. Set aside to marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes (and no longer).
3. Once the chicken is done marinating, add enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces, leaving any marinade behind, in a single layer so that they don’t touch and cook until the bottoms are browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides and no longer pink on the inside, 4 to 5 minutes more.
4. Serve the chicken over rice and top with the reserved pineapple salsa.
© The New York Times
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