I suspect there are millions of people who regularly eat cold cuts for lunch who are now looking for alternatives in light of the research released yesterday by the World Health Organization declaring processed meats a carcinogen. While the news media focused mainly on meats such as bacon and hot dogs, the research defined processed meat as “any meat that has been salted, cured, fermented, smoked, or otherwise transformed for the purpose of enhancing flavor or improving preservation”. This definition encompasses a wide variety of cold cuts – a lunch staple for many. I gave up eating cold cuts for lunch years ago because of their unhealthy additives and high sodium content. (One 4 oz. serving of a popular brand of oven roasted chicken breast deli meat that claims to be healthy contains 976mg of sodium. Compare this to only 143mg of sodium for the same size serving of Basic Roasted Chicken Breasts.) As a substitute I began roasting chicken breasts and shredding the meat to use in sandwiches and salads. Basic Roasted Chicken Breasts wasn’t a recipe I considered worthy of sharing until yesterday. The World Health Organization cancer report was all over the news, undoubtedly striking fear into health-conscious consumers. I hope sharing this simple method of preparation will help convince at least a few people to ditch cold cuts in favor of Basic Roasted Chicken Breasts.
I always have this chicken in my refrigerator so that I can pull together a quick meal (not just lunch) with a good, healthy protein source. The technique used here produces chicken that is tender and flavorful because it is roasted with the bone in and does not dry out the way a boneless breast would. When you pull the chicken out of the oven it won’t look quite done, but that’s ok because you’re going to cover it immediately with aluminum foil. The resulting steam generated inside the foil covered pan finishes cooking the chicken, and at the same time keeps the meat incredibly moist. You can eat Basic Roasted Chicken Breasts whole while hot, or shred the meat to use in chicken salad, pasta dishes, mac and cheese, or as a pizza topping. The chicken meat is also great in omlettes and quiche, or served plain with pesto or aioli. You will find a multitude of uses for this chicken and once you get used to preparing it this way it will become one of your recipe staples. And there’s a bonus too – less time waiting in line at the deli counter!
- 3 bone-in, skin on, chicken breasts – about 4 lbs. total
- 1 Tbs. Olive Oil
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. savory seasoning – any type (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken breasts on a half sheet pan. Brush all over with olive oil, then sprinkle evenly with salt, pepper, and savory seasoning, if using. Place pan on a rack in the bottom third of oven and roast for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Let the chicken rest like this for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours.
- Serve the chicken as is (reheat if desired), or shred the meat to use on/in salads, pasta, pizza and sandwiches. To shred, removed the skin and bones, cut the breast in half crosswise and pull the chicken apart with your fingers into bite size pieces following the grain of the meat. Alternatively, you can cut the chicken into ½ inch cubes. Will yield about 2 ½ lbs. of cooked chicken.
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