May 3, 2013 by Jason Rice MD
I don’t know about you, but the boneless/skinless chicken breast for me is a pretty miserable ingredient that nonetheless finds its way into my kitchen with alarming frequency. There’s no question that they make a lean, healthy protein choice, but they have been bred to the point of being nearly flavorless, not to mention their propensity towards dryness with most cooking methods. All complaints aside, they are convenient and can take an infinite array of seasoning choices. Convenience aside, a 3-pack of boneless/skinless breasts has recently exceeded $10 for moderate sized breasts. For me, this was the final straw. It was one thing to have a boring chicken breast that was cheap and convenient, but these breasts are now one of the most expensive meat products on the grocery store shelves.
Enter the split breast pack.
Ribs in, skin on, split sternum still attached.
All for less than half the price of the boneless/skinless breasts.
I first started using these in place of boneless/skinless breasts just for the financial savings. It isn’t that much work to remove the bones and the skins, and I saved a lot of money. But, more importantly, I started cooking them with the skin intact, and the flavor is amazing. All the delicious “chicken-y-ness” renders out of the skin while it roasts and bastes the chicken in its own juices. I still pull the skin off before I eat it to keep things a little healthier, but the flavor of these breasts can’t be beat, and I haven’t bought a pack of those sad little pink boneless/skinless blobs ever since.
This is my simple preparation for chicken breasts. I make this about once a week, especially in the colder months. Any seasoning you like will work well, but I went with a very classic herb blend for a nice comfort food feel. So, let’s get started.
- 2 chicken breasts, boned and trimmed, skin left intact
- Olive Oil
- Poultry Seasoning or other herb blend (I chose a Bavarian blend)
- Salt & Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove the bones and large pieces of fat from the chicken breasts. Carefully slide your finger under the skin and peel it back, leaving it attached to at least one edge of the breast. Season liberally with salt, pepper and herb blend.
Add a few thin pads of butter to the chicken and cover with the skin. Grind a little more black pepper over the skin. The butter will melt as the chicken cooks, mixing with the chicken fat that renders out of the skin, giving the chicken a rich, delicious flavor.
Heat olive oil and butter in a heavy, oven-safe pan over medium high heat.
Place the chicken into the pan, skin side up, to sear the bottom of the breasts.
Cook for just a few minutes, and then place the pan into the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes based on the size of the chicken breasts. Unlike the boneless/skinless breasts, the skin will keep the chicken moist and juicy and give you a little bigger margin for error with overcooking.
Remove the skins, and serve. I like to serve this with roasted potatoes and roasted vegetables. Not only are these nice complementary sides, but they can be made in the oven at the same time as the chicken, making prep much easier.
The potatoes shown here are my Easy Roasted Potatoes, and the zucchini is from the Veggie Short Cuts post. The little guy got involved for the first time in the kitchen, helping to shake up the bag of potatoes…
…And they came out great!
As always, I hope this recipe helps you elevate a basic staple into something a little tastier that eaters of all ages will be excited about. Enjoy!