Crispy-Skinned Chicken Breasts

This is my first recipe from the January / February 2014 issue. Because I didn’t already have the pickled, hot cherry peppers called for in the base recipe, I instead made the Crispy-Skinned Chicken Breasts with Lemon-Rosemary Pan Sauce. Both recipes can be made on a weeknight with about 40 minutes of effort (plus an hour of waiting). If you don’t have the hour to wait, you can de-bone and salt the chicken in the morning before work. The secret of this recipe is to start the chicken in a cold-skillet with a Dutch oven weighing down the chicken to ensure firm contact with the skillet. The trick paid off and the nicely crisp and rendered skin was absolutely delicious. The sauce was good, but pretty standard, and I ended up with twice as much sauce as necessary. 4-stars, which based upon the level-of-effort is a great payoff. I would still like to try the Hot Cherry Pepper version, and maybe even the Maple–Sherry Vinegar variation.

Perfectly crisp skin.

Perfectly crisp skin.

The recipe requires you to de-bone the bone-in chicken, because boneless chicken isn’t generally sold with the skin on. I saved the bones and tenderloins in a gallon-sized freezer bag for making my periodic batch of homemade chicken stock.


  1. While the recipe doesn’t remind you, I would definitely recommend using your splatter screen (if you have one). The skin renders a lot fat and the 10 minutes in Step 5 will make a big mess on your stove-top.
  2. I estimated the price at $5.50 based upon $1.50/lb bone-in chicken. But actually I got my chicken for free, because of a scanning error at the supermarket. In actuality, I paid less than $1 to make the recipe, because I also have free homemade chicken stock and my own rosemary bush.
  3. If you are defrosting frozen Chicken stock in Step 4, I would recommend 1m15s per cup in the microwave. But beware that many of the cartons you buy in the supermarket are not microwave compatible.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $5.50 (serves only 2 people)
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 5:00 PM. Dinner time 6:40 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared the recipe today are given below:

Chicken Ingredients:
2 (10-to-12-oz) bone-in split chicken breasts
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Pan Sauce Ingredients:
1 shallot
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chicken broth (5-1/2 ounces)
2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1/2 lemon)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

  1. Remove the chicken breasts from the bone but leave the skin intact. Put the chicken on a cutting board with the skin-side down. Start by running the tip of a boning knife, between the breastbone and the meat. As the meat pulls away from the bone, angle the blade to follow the rib cage and cut away from the ribs. You will still see that the meat is connected via the wishbone. Run your knife along both sides of the wishbone until it becomes free from the meat. Finally, the tenderloin needs to be removed (and saved for another use) and any excess fat should be trimmed away. Repeat with second breast.
  2. On the skin-side, evenly poke each breast with the tip of a paring knife 30 to 40 times. Flip over and poke the thicker end of each breast between 5 and 6 times. Working with one breast at a time, lay plastic wrap on-top of one breast, and use a meat pounder to pound to an even 1/2″ thickness. Sprinkle meaty side of each breast with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Set breasts on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (but up to 8 hours).
  3. Use paper towels to pat your breasts dry, then sprinkle both sides of each breast with 1/4 teaspoon pepper per breast. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to cold 12″ skillet, and swirl until evenly coated. Put breasts in the skillet with the skin-side down, and set a heavy skillet or Dutch oven on-top of the chicken to flatten the chicken while it cooks. Turn on the burner and set it to medium heat. Cook chicken for 8 minutes, using a splatter screen if you have one.
  4. Meanwhile, mince your shallot and rosemary. I had to defrosted my frozen chicken stock in microwave for 1m15s per cup.
  5. After 8 minutes remove the Dutch oven and continue to cook for another 6 to 8 minutes, until the skin is very crispy. Use a splatter screen if you have one. Use a metal spatula to flip the chicken, then reduce the burner to medium low. Cook until meat is cooked through, and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Move to two individual serving plates while preparing the sauce.
  6. Pour off all but 2 teaspoons (not TABLEspoons) of oil from the plan. Turn up burner medium, and saute shallot for 2 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds.  Turn up burner medium-high, and use 3/4 cup chicken broth and lemon juice to deglaze the pan. Once the sauce has reached a simmer cook for 2 to 3 minutes until thickened, adjusting burner to maintain an aggressive simmer. Add back and accumulated juices from the serving plates, cooking for 30 seconds.
  7. Remove the pan from the heat and add butter, minced rosemary, 1/8 teaspoon table salt and 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper. To maintain the crispy skin, spoon the sauce around the chicken instead of on top of it. Serve.

2 Responses to Crispy-Skinned Chicken Breasts

  1. Katie C. says:

    You know your kitchen and knife skills are getting better when the thought of deboning two chicken breasts from a whole bird doesn’t phase you! I haven’t tried this yet though I can break down a chicken.

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