Saturday, December 22, 2007

Roast Chicken Breasts

Julia says that the test of a restaurant is its roast chicken. And she is eloquent in describing the popping sounds of roasting, subtle signals to the alert chef of doneness. She is really thorough in describing all the work it takes. This technique gets a similar effect in 5 minutes of prep. The juicy popping sounds, the house filled with roasting aromas.

I like the breast best, and it looks so mahogany with that skin on it. The timing works out well because it's done in 35-45 minutes, just about time to get an starter cooked and eaten and cleaned up.

Roast chicken is so juicy and buttery with the under-skin treatment. And if you throw in some root vegetables, they come out browned and wonderful too, with some drippings from the chicken above flavoring them.

Serves four

A whole, bone-in chicken breast (about 1.5 pounds), completely thawed
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon rosemary leaves, chopped
  1. Put the oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450.
  2. Place a cooling rack for cookies on a cookie sheet (a "half sheet pan") and spray with oil
    1. (optional) Add to the bottom of the pan one layer of potatoes or peeled carrots, parsnips, or butternut squash, cut about 1/2 inch thick and tossed in or sprayed with olive oil and salted (potatoes cut side down).
  3. Mix the butter with 1/4 teaspoon salt and chopped rosemary (microwave for about 10 seconds if the butter is too firm to mix).
  4. Wiggle a finger under the breast skin to form a pocket and, with a spoon, mush half the butter under each side. Smooth the butter around under the skin.
  5. Pull out the ribs to form a base, and put the chicken on top of the broiler rack.
  6. Roast for about 35 minutes until an instant reading thermometer put in the thickest part of the breast registers 155 to 165. (For a 2 pound breast roast 45-50 minutes.)
  7. Remove from the oven and let it rest 5 minutes. Then remove breasts by cutting along the breast bone and scraping the meat off. Slice it on the bias or simply serve in sections.

    It's possible to make a quick sauce by deglazing the broiler pan with 1/4 cup white wine, scraping down the brown bits as it boils. Add 1/2 cup pot roast gravy, coq au vin sauce, or canned chicken stock, stirred with 1 teaspoon Wondra. Stir until smooth.

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