The Perfect Baked Chicken | Virtually Homemade: The Perfect Baked Chicken

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Perfect Baked Chicken

Chicken is not the most exciting dinner ingredient.  In my home I often hear “not chicken again”.  I stare at that chicken breast on my kitchen counter and think, “how can I make you flavorful, thrilling and adventurous?”  Needless to say, it never answers back.

However, sometimes the simplest preparation, finely honed, is the best of all.  Baking chicken is fairly common for me.  I've baked it at 350F, and at 425F with some success.  But I want more than average poultry.  I want exceptional.  Therefore, I decided to experiment with temperatures and times in order to find the quintessential baked breast.

I finally identified the culmination of temperature and time to create a simple yet outstanding dinner.  Baking at 450F for 50 minutes creates chicken that is beautifully browned, with slightly bubbled skin and tender white meat with juice overflowing upon slicing.  Prior to cooking I coat the skin in coarse sea salt (coarse is very important), cracked black pepper and hearty herbs that stand up to heat like thyme, rosemary, sage or oregano.  This baking process can also be used with thighs, however only cook for 40 minutes.  In addition feel free to add some autumnal vegetables like cauliflower, sweet potatoes or leeks right into the pan, about half way through the baking process.  They turn out perfectly crisp tender and bursting with flavor from mingling in the chicken juices.

I actually used this recipe for a last minute dinner party.  My husband questioned serving just plain chicken when having guests for a special evening.  I assured him it would be more than adequate.  Consequently, our guests commented on the crisp skin with little pockets of sea salt melting in their mouths, the succulent meat and the subtle taste of herbs.  Proving that simple preparations can be the best. 

The Perfect Baked Chicken
serves 6
6 bone in chicken breasts
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. coarse sea salt
cracked black pepper
12 sprigs of fresh herbs (e.g. rosemary, oregano, sage)

1. Place chicken on baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and herbs.
2. Bake for 50 minutes for medium sized breast, until skin is crispy brown  (internal temperature should be 180F).


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