Note: I have updated this popular post based on the comments I have received to add more detail to the instructions.
We have roasted chicken breasts a lot. They are simple to cook and you don’t have to do much to them. Between the two of us, we can eat one of those gigantic organic bone-in breasts from the local Whole Paycheck, but I always cook two so there are leftovers for sandwiches, salads and soups or just to eat cold. Yum.
Time for me to get on my soapbox. I know organic is something of a joke because these are still gigantic chicken-processing plants where the chickens are all squeezed up together and sitting in their own poop, not local Farmer Joe’s with a yard full of happy little chickens scratching at grubs who just can’t wait to end up as my dinner. I’m reading Michael Pollan‘s book right now, so I am informed, ok? That being said, organic chicken tastes better. If you are going to eat chicken two or three times a week, and never eat beef or pork (which is how I force my husband to live), then it is worth spending the extra dollars to get something juicy and full of meat and tastes lip-smacking good simply roasted in the oven. No matter what, organic can never approach the full-on evil that is Tyson’s.
That being said, here is the best way, hands-down, to roast a couple of bone-in chicken breasts. This will produce a brown, crispy skin that you will not be able to resist, and life is short, anyway.
First, move the oven rack to the middle or lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Choose an oven-safe skillet with high, straight sides. The high sides will help contain the fat as the chicken cooks and, I hope, prevent smoking and a messy oven.
Heat a mixture of butter and olive oil in the skillet on top of the stove over medium-high. For two breasts, I use 1 tbsp. of each. While that’s heating, rub the breasts with salt, pepper and, if you like, a seasoning mix of your choice (go to Penzey’s for lots of choices). You can also make your own spice rub fairly easily.
Brown the breasts in the pan on top of the oven, skin side down, without disturbing for a few minutes. Then turn them over with tongs so that the skin is on top and move the pan to the oven. Do not cover the pan; the skin will continue to crisp in the oven.
Let them cook for about 15 minutes in the oven, then flip them over again. Start checking for doneness at the 30-minute mark (or sooner, if the breasts are small). It is essential to have one of those nifty instant-read thermometers to determine when chicken is properly done. Stick the thermometer into the meatiest part of the chicken — avoiding the bone — and keep cooking until it registers 160 degrees. Depending on how meaty your breasts are, this may take up to 45 minutes total. Don’t worry, they are going to be juicy and succulent because of the little bit of butter they are cooking in.
Remember every oven is different. If you have problems with the oven smoking or the outsides getting too crisp too fast, try turning down the oven temperature to 425 degrees or moving the rack a little lower. And keep leaving me your feedback in the comments!