Thursday, 16 January 2014

Chicken Breast On The Bone With Crispy Skin

When did we all start eating boneless chicken fillets? Was it a product of the 'good times'?

Our lives were so busy and important that buying clean-looking, equal-sized, pink chicken portions just became habit. But what were we missing out on? Moisture. Crispy Skin. Flavour.

While they're undeniably useful for certain types of meals, boneless fillets can also be horribly dry and ridiculously over-priced. Most of the time I'll use chicken on the bone, with skin on.
You can pick up five giant portions for just €7 at O'Sullivan's Poultry in The English Market (near the fountain). These chicken pieces have a wing attached, so if you like the dark meat as well as the breast meat you'll love this. The oil and spices make the skin crispy and delicious, and placing just a small knob of butter under the skin keeps the meat incredibly tender.

just look at that juicy meat under the crispy skin! Mmmmm....

Just one of these will do me when having it with cauliflower mash & veg, though S likes to have two with a smaller amount of veg- you can adjust according to your own particular low-carb cravings.

1-2 chicken breasts per person (on the bone, with skin, and with a wing attached- if possible)
Olive oil
Schwartz Chicken Seasoning (paprika, onion, cayenne & parsley)
Butter (real, not the processed crap)
Salt & black pepper

Cooking Time
About 40 Minutes at 180C/360F

1. Lay the chicken breasts out on a baking tray (deep-fill, if possible), with the skin side up.

2. Working from the bottom to the top part of the breast, use your finger or a knife to gently pull the skin out and create a space between it and the flesh.

3. Push a dice-sized cube of butter in between the skin and the flesh, and pull the skin back down around the breast. Placing the butter under the skin will make the chicken lovely and moist.

4. Using a pastry brush (or your fingers) brush the outside of the skin with a little olive oil.
You'll need about a teaspoon per portion, but I'm mad about this Filippo Berio olive oil spray- one pump per portion is all you need.

5. Sprinkle over with a pinch of salt, some black pepper (I like lots of pepper) and about a teaspoon of Schwarz chicken seasoning per breast.
If you can't get your hands on this type of seasoning, follow this link to see the basic ingredients & easily make up your own version.

5a. Massage the spices into the skin. They'll look something like this:

you can see the knobs of butter just under the skin on each breast

6. Pour a small amount (about 20ml) of cold water into the bottom of the baking tray. This will help to keep the chicken moist, and make life easier for you when you come to make the gravy.

6a.  No need to cover the meat, just pop the tray into a pre-heated oven at 180C/360F degrees for about 40 minutes or until the juices run clear. The skin will be dark, and slightly crispy.

If you have a meat thermometer you can stick the probe into the thickest part of the largest breast and then forget about it until it beeps. This is my favourite way to cook. Make sure to do a spot-check on the other breasts too though- salmonella is a nasty illness.

Side Note: A poorly defrosted chicken curry led to salmonella the day before I went to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2005. Six hours on a train and a day in the middle of Phoenix Park at the height of summer probably wasn't the best cure but there was no way I was missing the concert!

7. Once you've taken the meat out of the roasting tray, you can add a little hot water (~100ml) to the juices at the bottom of the tray to make a gravy. Whisk for a couple of minutes over a medium heat until blended.
If your oven tray isn't suitable to sit directly on the hob, scrape the juices into a small saucepan then add the water.

8. If you need to thicken the gravy, add a small amount of low carb-friendly Xanthan Gum while whisking. I'll usually start with a 1/2 teaspoon to begin with, and add more as/if needed.

Serve with Cauliflower Mash and your favourite veggies.

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