Instructions for roasted chicken breasts. What kind of chicken breasts? BONE-in, SKIN-on. Oh my.
For those of you who have heard me talk about my cooking adventures, you know I'm not a fan of aforementioned poultry state. Seriously. It weirds me out. I don't eat chicken wings. I'm really not too big on fried chicken (I know, that's so un-Southern of me). Making P-Dub's chicken cacciatore this past spring required braising chicken thighs, and my stomach almost didn't survive. What's my problem? There's just something that terrifies me about seeing poultry closer to its original form, and there's something about touching said poultry that unnerves me. Needless to say, you can imagine my hesitation, ok, full-out refusal to follow Sara Foster's recipe. I thought, whatever. I'll just roast those chicken tenders I got the other day from Trader Joe's. I was resolved. Or so I thought.
One of my best tips for aspiring cookists is to read through a recipe multiple times before making it. It's like looking over a map a few times before you start driving or like brainstorming for an essay prior to actually writing (couldn't resist that English plug). Reading over a recipe is simply smart preparation. So after reading through the chicken salad recipe, I flipped the page over to make sure I didn't miss anything. And there it was. A cute little yellow box talking about how Foster's uses roast bone-in chicken breasts for their salads. She mentioned how the skin and bone impart flavor and practically guarantee tender, juicy chicken. Could my stomach surmount its tendency to turn and yield to the greater good of taste? I paused, pondered, and proceeded to choose bone-in, skin-on route. Oh my.
My stomach still turned. I literally had to use positive, reassuring self-talk as I rinsed and patted dry the chicken breasts, trying so very hard not to freak out over the broken ribs and bumpy texture of the skin. Oh my. Soon enough the chicken was in the oven to roast for 30-35 minutes @ 400 degrees. Result? Tender, juicy shredded chicken. I did it. And you might ask if I'd do it again? Yes I would. Oh, and FYI: one chicken breast yields approximate one cup of shredded cooked chicken.
Clearly I have a flair for the dramatic, so let's move on to the starring recipe, Pesto Chicken Salad. Wonderful. Delicious. Yum. Sorry, no link...none to be had. Refer to the typed out recipe at the end of the post. I shared this dish with my lovely friend Kate (check out her wonderful blog It's the Small Things), and we both declared it a success. I served it alongside some roasted baby red potatoes (some halved, some quartered; toss with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper; 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes) and ol' faithful, rosemary bread. If you support the flagrant use of garlic and basil and you'd like to make chicken salad sans mayo, this recipe is for you. One last plug: the pesto vinaigrette was superior, and it can serve as a sauce/dressing for just about anything you'd like to use it on (grilled chicken, veggies, fish, sandwiches, general salads, etc.).
Round two was tonight. I decided to make a sandwich using some additional arugula, fresh mozzerella, and garden tomatoes (thank you Whitney's grandparents!). And why not put all of that on the rosemary bread? The final product was super tasty but super messy. I don't think I have a future at Subway. Oh well.
Foster's Market Pesto Chicken Salad
6 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 cup Pesto Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 bunch arugula, washed, drained and stems removed
6 fresh basil leaves, cut into very thin slices (chiffonade)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fresh basil, to garnish, optional
Toasted pine nuts, to garnish, optional
Grated Parmesan cheese, to garnish, optional
- Place the chicken in a bowl and add vinaigrette, pine nuts, and Parmesan and toss to mix.
- Add the arugula and basil, season with salt and pepper, and toss gently to mix. Garnish with additional fresh basil, toasted pine nuts, and grated Parmesan if desired.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups vinaigrette
1 cup pesto
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Whisk together the pesto, vinegar, and lemon juice in a medium bowl.
- Add the olive oil slowly in a steady stream, whisking constantly, until all the oil has been incorporated. season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use or up to 3 days.