When someone tells you to caramelize a chicken breast, thanks to television and novice home chefs, you think golden brown and delicious. Simultaneously, in the mind of an educated food service professional, that nails on a chalk board effect has kicked in and all other attempts at communication are frivolous.
Note: There is no way a chicken breast, or any other type of protein,can be caramelized. Period.
Have you started to scratch your head yet? Lets break it down.
Caramelization is the chemical reaction between sugars, such as those found in vegetables and starches, and heat, i.e. the pan, grill, etc.
Maillard reactions, named for the French scientist who discovered this reaction in the early 1900's, are reactions that take place between proteins, like those found in meats, poultry, and seafood, and heat.
So when anything containing a protein is heated above 270 degrees Fahrenheit and browns, it is a Maillard reaction. Anything else is deemed caramelization.