kitchen basics: quick roasting a bone-in, skin-on chicken breast
I’d better start by admitting that I am kind of squeamish when it comes to chicken. I like eating it, but I’m kind of a baby when it comes to handling the raw stuff. Partly my mom has always instilled in me a fear of chicken germs, so I always visualize salmonella coating every surface of the kitchen, and partly it’s taken me some time to fully recover from my adolescent meat-eating policy of not eating anything that looks like it actually came from an animal. As much as I try not to let them, slimy, bony, covered-with-skin chicken breasts sometimes make me cringe. But recently I’ve been making some significant progress towards being less of a chicken-phobe and this is the simplest and best way I’ve learned to use a chicken breast to its fullest!
Even in my boneless-skinless-only days, I did agree that a bone-in, skin-on chicken breast has juicier, tastier meat than any breast that’s been divested of its skin n’ bones, so I always felt a bit wussy and guilty every time I opted for a less au naturale piece of chicken. Lucky for me, my mom recently gave me 3 giant bone-in, skin-on breasts, and I couldn’t very well turn down free chicken, so I was forced to figure out what to do with them. And you know what I discovered? It is possible to cook them up for their juicy meat without even touching them! Plus, it takes less than an hour and then you have two huge chunks of chicken you can use for tortas, tacos or burritos, quesadilla pie, chicken salad sandwiches, a salad or soup…you name it! Oh, and also you will save money if you buy them this way rather than paying for someone else to make it all nice and pretty for you.
If you usually shy-away from bone-in skin-on chicken, give this a try, and if you’re already a fan then here is a summary of the quickest and easiest way I know to cook them. The recipe, as laid out below, is the simplest configuration possible– just salt, pepper, and a little oil and butter– but if you want to turn this into a meal in its own right rather than a source of cooked chicken meat, feel free to season with herbs or spices (cajun seasoning, a little chile powder, a dried spice blend you like, or some fresh herbs) or a nice flavorful sauce. You can also toss some potatoes or vegetables in the pan to roast along with the chicken, or make a nice pan-sauce with the drippings and turn it in to a nice meal.
Quick-Roasting Bone-in, Skin-on Chicken Breasts
Makes 2 breasts
2 large bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
Olive oil, butter, or both
Options for jazzing it up: dried spices or herbs, fresh herbs, potatoes or vegetables to roast, or some wine/chicken stock/cream combination to make a nice pan sauce with the drippings.
To start, preheat your oven to 450 degrees (it needs more time than you might think to get up to that temperature). Place your chicken breasts on a plate (if you use tongs, you won’t even have to touch it!) and season generously with salt and pepper on both sides.
Place a cast-iron or other oven-safe skillet on the stove over medium high heat. When the pan is good and hot, give it a drizzle of olive oil and a small pat of butter, and when they’ve melted and heated, transfer your two chicken breasts to the pan, skin-side down. Leave them alone for several minutes, letting the skin get beautifully brown and crispy. Peek under them with tongs without flipping them to see when they’re browned, and when they’re ready, simply flip them over and then pop the cast-iron straight into the oven. Allow to roast until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees– start checking them around 15 minutes, but for me it took more like 30 minutes to get fully cooked. When they’re done, remove to a plate and tent with foil to rest. If you like, use the drippings already in the skillet to make a nice pan sauce. Serve the chicken warm from the oven, or allow to cool a bit and then remove the meat from the bone to use in another recipe. Enjoy!