I admit it – I like the crispy skin of a roasted chicken (or turkey, duck, or goose). I might prefer it to the actual meat. I know it’s healthier to eat skinless chicken, but sometimes, I want an old-fashioned roast chicken dinner. Still, I want the meat to be tender, not dried out. I often buy a whole chicken, joint and bone it to freeze the parts, tossing all the scraps into a stockpot to make my own chicken broth. And then there are the times I feel too lazy to deal with it so I place the parts on a cookie sheet to quick freeze, then transfer to freezer bags.
Since I’m still recovering from a cold (and the indulgences of New Year’s) and feeling less than motivated or enthused, dinner has to be straightforward – nourishing and simple. Roasted chicken breasts, brown rice, roasted carrots and a white wine/honey reduction glaze. I miss greens, but it is winter and local greens are hard to come by.
Make enough for leftovers. The tender roasted chicken is great sliced for sandwiches, chopped for salad or slivered into soup.
4 chicken breasts, bone in
Salt & pepper
Spice blend (optional)
For deglazing sauce
½ c white wine
1 t honey
1 T butter
Set oven to 425
Total time to prepare chicken breasts is about 30 minutes.
Rinse and dry breasts
Pat all over with good olive oil, season with S&P. You might add a seasoning blend like Cajun spice, Chinese 5 spice, jerk seasonings or Moroccan spice blend. Use whatever you have in your pantry that you know you like.
Heat a frying pan over high heat for a few minutes. I use cast iron skillets. If you don’t have one, I recommend you find a 12” skillet to add to your collection. Put the spiced chicken, breast side down, in the dry pan. The chicken will sizzle as the skin becomes crispy and browned. You can press it down with a heavy lid in order to brown more of the skin. The fat will render and the pan will spatter. I managed to cook 3 breasts at once, but that was the maximum one pan could hold. Give it about 5 minutes. Check to see if the skin is turning brown, then turn the chicken over with tongs and put it in the oven to finish cooking. (If you’re not using an oven-safe frying pan, transfer the chicken to a baking dish before placing in the oven.) I wanted to roast the carrots so I used a roasting pan – a brush of olive oil on the bottom of the pan, and placed thick rounds of sliced carrots one layer deep, then the breasts went skin side up on top of the carrots, each breast topped with a sprig of rosemary.
After about 15 minutes in the oven, check the chicken – if it’s done, it will register 160 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit on a meat thermometer. Since breasts tend to be uneven in size, you should check each of them, removing any that are done, returning the rest to the oven. If the chicken feels spongy when you poke it, it’s not done, or if the juices run red, put it back in for another five minutes, check again. Remove breasts from skillet (or pan) to a platter (to collect juices) – let them rest for five minutes so the juices settle before eating. (If you need to let them sit longer than 5 minutes you will want to pop them back in a hot oven for 5 minutes just before serving).
Deglaze the skillet:
Drain the skillet of any remaining chicken fat from the browning stage but do not wash the pan/skillet. Add 1 T butter and 1 finely chopped shallot, cook the shallot until translucent. Add ½ c chicken stock plus ½ c dry white wine. Cook over medium heat, scraping up the browned bits of chicken with a wooden spoon, until the sauce has begun to thickened slightly (this will still be a thin consistency, it isn’t a thickened gravy). Still stirring, add drippings from the pan and/or any juice from the resting breasts, and taste for seasoning. I added 1 t of Hawaiian honey to complement the carrots. Add a pat of butter and stir until it’s melted. Reduce further to about half the volume (about 1/2 c of finished sauce.) Spoon over chicken and rice, serve immediately.