Published September 1, 2007.
We wanted to elevate this institutional standard to an elegant weeknight dinner. This required a glaze that would stick to the chicken and not taste like candy.
We found three problems common to glazed chicken breast recipes: dry chicken, flabby skin, and a cloying glaze.
Glazed chicken breasts should have perfectly rendered skin, moist meat, and a complexly flavored glaze. Cooking should be easy enough to make this a meal suitable for both a dinner party and a quick Tuesday night meal.
We found quick fixes to two of our problems. Browning the skin solved the flabbiness issue, and a light coating of flour on the chicken provided a good grip for the sauce. Once the chicken was cooked, we removed it from the skillet and began creating the glaze in the same skillet. Rejecting the usual sticky ingredients (jams, molasses, syrup) as too sweet and cloying, we found reduced orange juice not only had sweetness and flavor, but also some acidity to help balance the sugar. To get just the right amount of stickiness, we added corn syrup. Since corn syrup contains half as much sugar as other sweeteners, the sweetness level remained under control. We added complexity to the glaze with honey, minced shallot, vinegar, Dijon mustard, and a pinch of pepper flakes. After thickening the glaze, we added the chicken back to the skillet, rolled it around, and transferred the skillet to the oven to bake until the breasts reached 160 degrees. After plating the chicken, we reduced the glaze a little further, brightened it with a few tablespoons of orange juice, and passed the sauce at the table.list of recipes