Roast Chicken Breasts with Rosemary and Lemon

This is a great dish to make for a dinner party, since it cooks (reliably) in about 45 minutes and needs almost no attention, as it perfumes the house with the irresistable aroma of roast chicken and rosemary.  It can rest for 15 minutes while you’re sauteing a vegetable or tossing a salad to accompany it.  It’s also a pretty safe dish to serve to a varied group of people, unless of course, they’re vegetarian.  

The thing to remember about chicken breasts on the bone is that they’re thick and meaty, so they need a good deal of salt to penetrate them and make them taste great.  To that end, I like to rub the salt underneath the skin, so the meat (not just the skin) takes in the salt.  While I’m at it, I rub a bit of lemon zest, black pepper and chopped fresh rosemary under the skin as well.  

If you think chicken breasts are bland, unimpressive and not a worthy dish for company, try this dish.  No searing or smoking up the house–just roast on high heat (450 degrees) and in forty-five minutes, you’ll be astounded at how much flavor and aroma a chicken breast can provide.   

Tonight, in addition to the chicken breasts, I decided to made broccoli di rapa, as well as sauteed cremini mushrooms with white wine, shallots and parsley.

Roast Chicken Breasts with Rosemary and Lemon

serves 4

2 chicken breasts with skin and bone, split

2 onions, peeled, quartered and sliced in 1/2″ thick quarter-moons

1 tsp freshly chopped rosemary

2 tbls olive oil

zest of 1 lemon

2 tsps salt + 1 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Place oil and onions in a skillet and bring up to moderate heat.  Saute the onions, covered, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, or until they wilt and begin to caramelize.  Remove cover and continue sauteing for another 5 minutes.  Spread onions on a sheet pan large enough to hold the chicken breasts with a little space around them.

Run your fingers between the skin and flesh of the chicken breasts to loosen the skin.  Spread salt, pepper, rosemary and lemon zest evenly under the skin and sprinkle a bit on top of the skin as well.

Place the chicken breasts on top of the bed of onions and roast for approximately 45 minutes, basting once or twice with the pan juices.

NOTE:  If you have any–even a couple of tablespoons of pan juices left from the roast chicken–keep and freeze them in a ziploc bag to add magic to future dishes.  More on that later . . .

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