Cook’s Illustrated Method For Perfect Roast Chicken Breasts

This recipe for roasted chicken breasts is Cook’s Illustrated’s method for chicken breasts with “perfectly cooked meat and skin.” With few exceptions, the most flavorful chicken is not boneless skinless breast meat. Bone-in, skin-on is typically a better bargain and a better choice for roasting.

The Fresh Market recently had whole breasts for sale BOGO, so I purchased two to try this roast chicken recipe. The two breasts were similar in shape and size–each weighing a little over one pound. This method of roasting requires uniformity in size in order to cook properly and in the same length of time.

One secret to getting a crisp skin is oiling the top of the breasts and smearing butter underneath the skin.  Another secret is elevating the meat for roasting. The breasts are best placed atop a slotted broiler pan (no sides). Also helpful is pulling out the rib cage on each side of the breasts so that each will stand up on its own and allow heat to circulate evenly around the meat.

Here is the recipe along with some illustrations from Cook’s Illustrated:

Roasted Chicken Breasts

  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 whole bone-in skin-on chicken breasts (about 1- 1/2 pounds each), patted dry with paper towels and trimmed of excess fat
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1tablespoon vegetable oil (I used EVOO)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 450 degrees. Line bottom of broiler pan with foil, place broiler pan rack on top; set aside. In small bowl, mix 1/2 teaspoon salt and butter until combined. Sprinkle underside of chicken breasts liberally with salt and pepper. Following illustrations below, gently loosen bottom portion of skin covering each breast. Using small spoon, place a quarter of softened butter under skin, directly on meat in center of each breast half. Using spoon, spread butter evenly over breast meat. Rub skin of each whole breast with 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and sprinkle liberally with pepper. Set chicken breasts on broiler pan rack, propping up breasts on rib bones.
  2. Roast until thickest part of breast registers 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer chicken to cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. To carve, follow illustrations 1 through 3 below. Serve immediately.

STEP-BY-STEP

PREPARING THE CHICKEN FOR ROASTING

  • 1. Gently lift skin at bottom of breast to create small pocket for butter.
  • 2. Using teaspoon, place butter in center of meat. Pressing on skin, spread butter evenly over meat.
  • 3. Gently pull out rib cage from each side of breast to create a stable base.

 

Here is a short clip showing how my chicken breasts turned out. They were very moist, juicy, and tender while remaining crisp and salty on the outside. We loved them!