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Skin and bones lend chicken breasts exactly what the boneless, skinless variety lacks: flavor and moisture. But how do you cook them? Like steak.
Bone-in chicken breasts roasted at a high temperature may have crispy, brown skin, but it often conceals dry, bland meat. A lower temperature keeps the meat juicy but leaves the skin pale and flabby. For the best of both worlds, we adapt a cooking technique that is more commonly used for steaks: reverse searing.
We start by applying salt under the skin to season the meat and help it retain moisture. Then we poke small holes in the skin to help drain excess fat. Gently baking the breasts at 325 degrees minimizes moisture loss and results in even cooking from the breasts’ thick ends to their thin ends. It also allows the surface of the skin to dry out so that a quick sear in a hot skillet is all that is required for a crackly, burnished finish. And since the cooking method is pretty much hands-off, there’s time to make a quick sauce to serve alongside.
Be sure to remove excess fatty skin from the thick ends of the breasts when trimming. You may serve these chicken breasts on their own or prepare a sauce (see related content) while the chicken roasts.
1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Working with 1 breast at a time, use your fingers to carefully separate chicken skin from meat. Peel skin back, leaving it attached at top and bottom of breast and at ribs. Sprinkle salt evenly over all chicken, then lay skin back in place. Using metal skewer or tip of paring knife, poke 6 to 8 holes in fat deposits in skin. Arrange breasts skin side up on prepared sheet. Roast until chicken registers 160 degrees, 35 to 45 minutes.
2. Heat 12-inch skillet over low heat for 5 minutes. Add oil and swirl to coat surface. Add chicken, skin side down, and increase heat to medium-high. Cook chicken without moving it until skin is well browned and crispy, 3 to 5 minutes. Using tongs, flip chicken and prop against side of skillet so thick side of breast is facing down; continue to cook until browned, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer to platter and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.