I love it when I figure out how to do something well. Cooking is after all for most of us a big risk and opportunity to fail. I love when I make something the right way and the response to it is, “Oh, wow! This is great!”. That’s how I learned to properly bake chicken breasts.
For years now I have been cooking chicken breast by cutting into bite size pieces and marinating them in what ever sounded good at the time then browning them and eating in a stir fry kind of way. Recently however, I learned how to bake a bone-in chicken breast and have it turn out juicy and flavorful. I admit it, I was on the low cal, low fat bandwagon, and believe me I still am. What I have discovered though, is that you do not have to skip those flavor inducing tricks in order to have a healthy low cal, low fat dish.
What’s the secret you ask? Temperature, oven rack placement and time. The temperature of the chicken when placed inside the oven is important. The juices will stay inside the meat if you don’t place freezing cold chicken in the oven. Make sure your chicken is nearly room temperature before placing in a hot oven. I don’t understand the physics of it but after many bad attempts I know this to be true.
For years, I’ve always baked my chicken at 350. Wrong. Bump the temperature up to 400 and the oven rack in the upper two-thirds of the oven (electric) and the juices are sealed inside the meat. Cook it for 25-30 with the skin down. Yes, you need to buy chicken breasts with skin and bones, it’s only way to truly retain the proper flavor. Then flip the oven to broil and the chicken skin side up and broil for 2-3 more minutes (max). This will crisp up the chicken nicely and seal juices in even better. Once the chicken is done, let it set for no less than 5 minutes before cutting into.
Try it this way just once and you will not want to have chicken any other way. Promise. Now for many of you I’m sure this is old news. But for the novice or even learned cooks (as I consider myself) this can be the difference between dry tasteless chicken or over seasoned bite-sized pieces.