Dull?

When I mentioned the idea of this column to The Kid, it was met with a politely suppressed yawn. “Really? Roasted chicken breasts? That’s…nice…” I swear I heard crickets.
Dull they might be, but my child has never stood in the meat department of the grocery store for the 4,000th time (literally; my journalistic standards and morbid curiosity compelled me to break out the calculator), almost faint with desperate longing for a new take on dinner.
So in honor of any mutual sufferers (and to maybe prove The Kid wrong), here are a few musings on the subject:
Roasted Chicken Breasts
When they’re on on sale (Carlie C’s recently had them at 89 cents a pound), and you’ve got room to freeze, stock the heck up. Buy them with skin and bone. Not only are they cheaper, but you will use them both, to great benefit.
You can serve them hot. Serve them alone (they are really juicy), or with a sauce of whatever you have a hankering for.
On top of pasta? Marinara, or a hot relish made of halved grape tomatoes and chopped garlic, tossed in a little olive oil and tons of fresh, coarsely cracked black pepper and kosher salt until just hot. Don’t let the tomatoes get hot enough to either shrivel, or start giving up their juice. After you take it off the heat, check for salt.
You can serve them over a bed of mashed sweet potatoes, or acorn squash, or any other kind of mashed veg you want. You can mix them, sliced, into a saute of fresh vegetables. I love a little hollandaise, drizzeled over the top (okay, standards again, I could drink a glass full of yummy hollandaise sauce, I love that stuff).
You get it, you can go all Da Vinci on these puppies.
The best way to cook these guys couldn’t be easier. 350 degrees, until a thermometer which has been inserted into the thicket part of the biggest breast before putting in the oven, registers 165 degrees. Don’t mess around here, rare chicken can kill. Let them rest for 5-10 minutes, covered, before removing the thermometer and serving.
But, here’s the cool part. You can make the chicken meat itself a canvass where you can really let you freak flag fly. Before cooking, carefully open a pocket between the skin and meat. Do it with your fingers, and be very gentle.
Into the pocket put a tablespoon of whatever flavor you want. Pesto, chiles, herbs du Provence, pancetta and lemon, american cheese(eww.). Go for it.
If you want to make them ahead, leave covered until they’re cool, remove the skin, but don’t discard, take the meat off the bone and freeze. If you like, you can crisp up and carmelize that skin, and use it like bacon. Start in a dry pan, no need for fat here. If you keep the rendered fat you have created “Schmaltz”, a frequent ingredient in traditional Jewish cooking, this is the Kosher alternative to pork fat, and tasty (not quite duck fat, but then, what is?).
You can do pounds of chickies when you have the time. And another night when time is of the essence you could have cool, homemade chicken salad, or comforting chowder, or healthy veggy lasagne in less time than it takes to make your kid do his homework.
Thanks for your time.

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