Chicken breasts cooked to juicy, tender perfection with a lemon-oregano...

Chicken breasts cooked to juicy, tender perfection with a lemon-oregano sauce and feta cheese. Credit: Marge Perry

You have a choice. You can overcook chicken breasts to the point where they are dry and mostly devoid of flavor, or you can use an instant read meat thermometer and have juicy, tender chicken breasts that are cooked through.

Should you wisely opt for the latter, here’s how you take chicken’s temperature: Insert the probe from the side, horizontally into the breast. You want the probe to be at least one inch in (which is why you can’t stick it in from the top). The tip should be at the center of the thickest part of the breast.

When the thermometer registers 160 degrees, it is both safe, and still moist and tender.

If you aren’t sure whether your thermometer is working, use tongs to hold the stem in boiling water: it should register 212 degrees.

There are many variations on the recipe below. Use capers in place of the feta. This isn’t a recipe to use dried herbs, but most leafy fresh herbs would work beautifully, so consider fresh parsley or basil rather than oregano. For those of you who are off wheat flour, try rice flour.

The dish works really well with or without cheese. The real essence of the dish is the lovely lemon butter sauce — served, of course, over perfectly cooked chicken breasts.

Chicken Breasts with Lemon and Feta

4 (6-ounce) boneless skinless chicken breast halves

3/4 teaspoon salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup dry white wine

3/4 cup unsalted chicken broth

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 sprig plus 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, divided

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

1. Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper. Spread the flour on a plate and dredge chicken to coat.

2. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned, 4 minutes per side. (It will not be fully cooked). Transfer to a plate.

3. Add the wine to the skillet and bring it to a boil. Continue boiling 2 – 3 minutes until it is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Add the broth, lemon juice, sprig of oregano, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to the skillet. Bring it back to a boil and cook 1 minute. Add the chicken, reduce the heat to medium and simmer, turning occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into the thickest part of each breast registers, 160°F, about 2-3 minutes. Remove (and discard) the oregano sprig, take the skillet off the heat, and swirl in the butter until melted. Plate the chicken and sprinkle with the feta cheese and oregano leaves.

MAKES 4 SERVINGS