Roasted Lemon Herb Chicken Breasts
Is there anything more comforting than roasted chicken for dinner? If I was being honest with myself, I would have to say that doughnuts are at the top of my list of comfort foods, so far ahead of other treats that they may as well be the only thing on the list. Sadly, despite my undying devotion and publicly-expressed love of those little gems of fried dough, doughnuts no longer like me, so I have had to find comfort in other foods. Which is how we got here, talking about chicken.
Roasting chicken sounds like something that should be difficult, but it isn’t. Bypassing the whole chicken and just buying all split breasts makes the process even easier because all of the meat is going to cook together and you don’t have to worry about the breast drying out while you wait for the legs and thighs to cook. If your breasts are all about the same size, they should cook in about the same time. Look for packages labeled split breasts that still have the skin on and rib meat included.
Roasted chicken is one of those things that once you get comfortable making it, you find yourself thinking up ways to use the chicken so you just keep making it more and more often. Roast the chicken on Sunday night for dinner — a fabulous idea — and make extra to keep around during the week. Chop it up for chicken salad, put it in soup, pile it on top of greens for lunch, put it in risotto, or just eat it plain. My refrigerator is rarely without a container of cooked chicken and this is how I make it, every single time.
The hardest part of cooking chicken this way is getting over your squeamish fear of touching and handling raw meat. I know that it’s easy to be freaked out by raw chicken. Contrary to what you may believe, raw chicken isn’t slimy. If it’s slimy, something is wrong and you don’t want to cook it! Once you season the chicken, pop it in the oven and let it roast for about 45 minutes. The packages I get at the store are usually about 5 pounds and contain 4 large breasts. If your chicken breasts are on the small side, check them after 35 minutes. You will want to use a meat thermometer and the temperature needs to reach 165 degrees in the thickest part of the meat. Once it reaches 165 degrees, take the chicken out and let it rest.
If you watch the temperature of the chicken, your meat should be super juicy so gravy isn’t necessary. But, it sure wouldn’t hurt to pour all of the pan juices off, skim the fat from the top, and drizzle a little bit over top of the sliced chicken. If you really love lemon, squeeze the juice from one of the lemon halves into the pan drippings. Yup, that will be delicious! Dinner is done!
- 5 lbs. split chicken breasts - bone in, skin on, with rib meat (my package usually has 4 breasts)
- one lemon, zested and cut in half
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
- 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- 2. In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients except chicken.
- 3. Gently place your fingers in between the breast and the skin, loosening the skin from the surface of the chicken. Try to keep the skin intact on the sides so that it stays in place during cooking.
- 4. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the oil mixture underneath the skin and rub it around on top of the breast. Rub the remaining oil mixture on the top and sides of the breasts. Add the lemon halves to the pan.
- 5. Place breasts in a 9X13 inch pan coated with cooking spray or sprayed with olive oil.
- 6. Roast for 45 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees in the thickest portion of the meat and the juices are clear (as opposed to pink) when you cut into the breast. If your breasts are smaller, begin checking temperature after 35 minutes.
- 7. Take the chicken out of the oven and let rest for 15 minutes.
- 8. Remove the breast in one whole piece from the bone and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices. If some of the meat is left on the bone, that's okay, just use your hands to clean the remaining meat from the bones and add it to the platter.
- 9. Pour pan juices into a bowl and let it rest for a few minutes so the fat rises to the surface. Skim the fat off the top. You can add the juice from one of the roasted lemon halves if you like. Drizzle the juice over top of the sliced chicken or serve on the side.