Dry chicken breasts are so common that we’ve almost come to expect the meat to taste like that all the time. But that way of thinking isn’t fair, because that part of the bird actually has real potential and can, in fact, be ridiculously good (if you don’t overcook it and you do use bone-in, skin-on pieces), like, “I-never-in-a-million-years-thought-breast meat-could-taste-like-this” good.
In her book, Adventures in Chicken, Eva Kosmas Flores shows us a new trick for roasting chicken that results in moist, incredibly flavorful breast meat, every time. It doesn’t require special equipment or advanced culinary skills. Actually, all you really need to make this dish is some time (most of it unattended) and—yep—a couple of strips of bacon.
Flores’s method is yet another reminder of just how far a couple slices of smoked, cured meat can go. She slips two strips of bacon (cut in half) under the breast skin; then she dices two more and uses them to make a bed for the chicken to sit on while it roasts. The other key players in this wondrous dish: maple syrup, a sweet onion and fresh rosemary and thyme.
You’ll want to set aside a few hours to make this chicken—the recipe calls for a whole chicken, but if you don’t want to cook an entire bird, Flores says you can apply it to just chicken breasts—since the meat needs to marinate in a mixture of chicken stock, maple syrup, vinegar, olive oil, salt and thyme for four hours. But aside from that, the bacon really does the work here (and a bang-up job, at that).
As the bacon cooks under the chicken skin, there’s nowhere for the juices to go, so they seep into the breast meat, turning the potentially dull-flavored cut into something delightfully rich and juicy, banishing any memory of squishy, dry, stringy, miserable—okay, we’ll stop. Just try this recipe.
Get the recipe: Bacon and Maple Roast Chicken