Monday, February 26, 2007

Roast chicken breasts

When I roast a chicken, I am usually preparing several meals. There is the roast for that day; a preparation such as hash or curry with the leftover meat; and a soup or risotto with the stock that I'll make from the carcass. Another approach, more logical perhaps, is to cut up the chicken first, and use the pieces as you need them.

At the weekend, I got my butcher to cut a chicken into 10 pieces. I kept the backbone, using it with the neck to make a stock. I roasted the breasts; the next day, I made what Marcella Hazan calls a fricasse (there are other meanings of the term -- I'll describe this recipe later in the week) with the thighs, drumsticks and wings.

The breasts made a very simple meal. I wiped clean four flat mushrooms, cut them into fork-sized pieces, and tossed them with a tbsp of olive oil, a clove of chopped garlic, salt and pepper. I placed them in a roasting tin. I coated the chicken breasts with a little more oil, and placed them on top of the mushrooms. I squeezed over the juice of a lemon, and threw the hulls into the tin. I ground over a little more salt.

Chicken breast dries out and toughens very easily. A high temperature forces moisture from the meat; on the other hand, a low temperature will mean that the meat is thoroughly dry before it has cooked through. Rapid cooking is preferable. I roasted these breasts for 30 minutes at gas mark 6/200 C. That was probably five minutes longer than they needed.

We ate the chicken and mushrooms with mashed potato.

No comments: