Let me start by saying that I’m not a big fan of chicken breasts. They are my least favourite cut of chicken. I find them to be dry and lacking in flavour and I avoid using them as much as I can, opting for thigh fillets instead. But this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa has converted me. The chicken is bathed in olive oil that’s been infused with garlic, lemon juice and herbs, quite a lot of garlic and oil actually, but don’t be tempted to cut down on either. It’s this rich oil that the chicken is baked in that stops it from drying out and at the same time infuses the meat with all it’s lemony garlic flavours. The only change I made was to add a hint of honey to counteract the lemon juice and to help the skin to crisp to a nice golden brown. This is cooking at it’s simplest and best. After very little effort you’re rewarded with a truly delicious meal of succulent chicken meat and a lovely thin sauce to drizzle over. I’d happily serve this for guests but you can’t beat it for an easy mid week meal. I had a large number of people for dinner recently and I served this with a baked pumpkin and sage risotto that required no stirring whatsoever – a truly simple and stress free way to feed a crowd.
Ingredients – serves 4 Adapted from Ina Garten
¼ cup good olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic (about 9 cloves)
⅓ cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon honey – optional
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on
Preheat the oven to 200C. Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for just 1 minute but don’t allow the garlic to turn brown. Off the heat, add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, honey and ½ teaspoon salt and pour into a baking dish that will fit the chicken breasts snugly in one layer. Pat the chicken breasts dry and place them skin side up over the sauce. Brush the chicken breasts some of the infused oil in the dish and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the chicken is done and the skin is nicely browned. If the chicken isn’t browned enough, put it under the griller for 2 minutes. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Serve hot with the pan juices.