We ate some wonderful roasted chicken breast tonight. I sit and write this full and content – pleased with the unique satisfaction that comes from a full belly of something comforting and savory.
I have been traveling so much lately and have been yearning for something simple and delicious, cooked in my own kitchen. Sunday is market day, and I wandered the crowded aisles thrilled to be shopping for a week’s worth of meals. I love the energy of the market; today the produce was as abundant as the shoppers, diverse and overflowing. I passed some beautiful parsnips and springy baby vidalias and the thought of a simple roasted chicken came to mind – one dish in the oven emanating lovely fragrance throughout my home – minimal dishes – snuggly time with my husband and my Bill Bryson book – yes, please.
This impromptu, market-inspired dish is so simple it’s ridiculous. Chicken, parsnips, carrots, baby vidalias – all very rustic and honest ingredients. An elegant little sauce elevates the beautiful flavors of the vegetables with just enough sweet, tangy, herby goodness to keep things interesting. The chicken will be perfect; juicy, succulent and tender with crispy skin. A hit of balsamic vinegar in the last ten minutes of cooking adds a subtle sweetness and extra layer of flavor that takes this humble dish to the next level.
It may seem unusual to cook everything on the very top shelf of the oven at such a high temperature – don’t deviate! This and a generous amount of olive oil is the secret to delicious oven-roasted chicken breast. (Stay tuned for chapter two of fabulous roasted chicken breast.) I prepared just one skin on, bone in chicken breast to split between two hungry people, but you could go for as many as you like. The recipe below is for one chicken breast – adjust the amount of chicken and veggies according to your taste and serving size.
fabulous roasted chicken breast and honest veggies with a lemony, herby sauce
- bone in, skin on chicken breast
- four medium parsnips, peeled and cut into two inch pieces, larger pieces halved length wise
- four skinny carrots, peeled and cut into two inch pieces, larger pieces halved length wise
- one bunch of baby vidalias (about three), bulbs halved and green parts cut into three inch pieces (if you can’t find baby vidalias, substitute with a regular sweet onion and a bunch of green onions)
- 1 heaping tsp each of dried herbs such as thyme, rosemary, sage, basil and marjoram (use fresh if you have them – just be sure and keep it diverse!)
- zest and juice of one lemon (use a meyer if you have it)
- a couple tbsp of butter, melted (omit if you’re feeling skinny)
- three to four tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- generous splash of balsamic vinegar
- generous tsp of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- mix herbs, salt and pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice, melted butter and olive oil in a small bowl – the mixture should think but not pasty – easily pourable
- place all chopped veggies and chicken breast(s) in a large, glass baking dish or similar
- gently separate the skin from the chicken breast, carefully cutting so as not to detach skin from breast, and generously rub some of the herb mixture all over the chicken (make sure to rub plenty under the skin)
- pour the rest of the lemony, herby sauce all over the veggies and toss
- generously drizzle more extra virgin olive oil over the entire dish and season again with a little more salt and pepper
- place uncovered in a 500 degree oven on the very top rack and roast for 20 minutes
- remove from oven and splash some balsamic vinegar on the vegetables only
- return to oven and roast for 10 minutes more
Serve with all of the pan juices poured over the chicken and vegetables, and also with some crusty bread to soak up the amazing juices.
Be sure and roast with the skin on, even if you don’t plan to eat it. This will help to keep the chicken moist and flavorful and cannot be omitted.
If you have a little extra time, why not do a quick salt water brine for your chicken breast a few hours before cooking?