I missed the wonderful crunch of a crispy fried piece of chicken. It seemed that I was destined to brining boneless, skinless, chicken breasts (and, it is a great way to add moisture and flavor); or breading with coconut and nut flours (again, good). But, what if you wanted a piece of chicken with a ‘crisp’ skin that was tender and moist as well? I tried and tried – until I saw a recipe on America’s Test Kitchen that blew me away. I knew I had to try it – and, wow, I am glad I did! I made a few tweaks – but, it is still pretty close to the original recipe – so, I will give them the kudos (#AmericasTestKitchen,#CooksIllustrated) for the dish.
A couple of things prior to the recipe and instructions…
- I bought my own bone-on chicken breasts. Yes, they had the bones in them, but if you have a good knife – it is easy to remove the breast meat from the ribcage. Just keep cutting next to the bone and you are on your way. You may also need to remove a bit of the wishbone – but, it is pretty easy to do. If you need a tutorial, I would be happy to provide it.
- By the way, it is also WAY cheaper. But, if you have a good rapport with your butcher – ask them to do it. Mine always charges me.
- I didn’t use flour in my sauce (unlike the original recipe). I used a ‘compound butter’ which I will share at the end of the recipe. This can be used for any herb that you have – and, I strongly suggest keeping these available for everyday cooking.
- Please take my instructions as ‘tongue in cheek’. I would NEVER condone violence at home – or, in the workplace. But, sometimes – you may need a way to vent that ends up being constructive (unless you are the chicken).
So, here goes.
- As I mentioned, I cut the bone off my chicken breasts. The chicken tenders are on the right, I save those for another use.
2. Now, if you have had a bad day – this is the fun part… using your knife and poke the skin on each breast evenly 30 to 40 times (sorry, I keep thinking of Psycho). However, you are not done, just turn your ‘victims’ over again, and poke thickest half of each breast 5 to 6 times (again, please note the irony).
3. Now, if stabbing isn’t enough, cover breasts with plastic wrap and pound the thick ends gently with a meat pounder until 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle each breast with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Place breasts, skin side up, on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet, cover loosely with plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 8 hours.
4. Pat breasts dry with paper towels (this is important to remove extra moisture) and sprinkle each breast with 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pour oil in a COLD 12-inch skillet and swirl to coat. Note: The cold skillet is important. Otherwise, you will not get the skin you are looking for.
5. Place breasts, skin side down, in oil and place skillet over medium heat. Place heavy skillet or Dutch oven on top of breasts. Cook breasts until skin is beginning to brown and meat is beginning to turn opaque along edges, 7 to 9 minutes.
6. Remove the Dutch oven and continue to cook until skin is well browned and very crispy, 6 to 8 minutes.
7. Flip breasts, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until second side is lightly browned and meat registers 160 to 165 degrees, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer breasts to individual plates and let rest while preparing pan sauce.
8. Save 2 teaspoons oil from skillet. Return skillet to medium heat and add shallot; cook, stirring occasionally, until shallot is softened, about 2 minutes. Add the compound butter and stir constantly, for 30 seconds.
9. Increase heat to medium-high, add chicken stock and coconut aminos; bring to a simmer. Simmer until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in any accumulated chicken juices; return to simmer and cook for 30 seconds. Remove skillet from heat and whisk in butter and rosemary; season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon sauce around breasts and serve.
NOTE: I served mine with sautéed zucchini ribbons and carrots. It was wonderful and filling.
This is so simple. Bring a stick of butter (8 Tbsp.) to room temperature and add whatever herb you would like. I generally use about 1/3 cup of leafy herbs like basil, sage, cilantro, and tarragon.
Other herbs (like thyme and rosemary) need much smaller amounts – like 1 Tbsp. Put it in a food processor, and mix until combined. I then form it back into butter-like blocks and freeze until needed.
It is simple and a great way to use up leftover herbs! I hate throwing things out.