Week Night Yum Yum: Herbed Baked Chicken with Garlic Green Beans

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chicken breasts are often a go-to dinner staple. We've grilled it, fried it, roasted it and poached it. But sometimes it's too cold outside to grill it, we're too fat to fry it again, we don't have time to roast it, and poaching it...well...we find that icky unless it involves champagne and pears. But have you tried baking it...

If you have, you probably ended up with chicken jerky. Because boneless and skinless chicken breasts lack the bone to give it flavor and the skin to keep it moist, you often end up with a stringy, dry product that you need to literally drown in a sauce or salad dressing to chew through it. But no more.

My answer to that is using a wet rub. Often used in bbq, this seasoning technique can be applied to baking as well with amazing results. A dry rub involves a combination of dried herbs heavily crusted onto a protein. This creates a crust that gives amazing flavor and keeps the inside nice and moist. You can do the same technique with baking. By adding a little oil (any kind will do) to the dry rub mixture, you're replacing the fat that a whole chicken or bone-in chicken breast with skin would have, which ensures a moist chicken breast instead of the dry stringy yuckiness. You can make any rub combination you like: dried herbs (as featured below), southwestern with cumin and ancho chile powder, even asian with wasabi or chinese mustard, ginger powder and brown sugar.

The great part of this is you can easily double the recipe to stretch the chicken into another recipe for later in the week. Make herbed baked chicken with green beans and some store-bought rolls or biscuits for dinner tonight and use the extra chicken in a chopped salad or pasta dish tomorrow night.

Herbed Baked Chicken
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp herbs de provence
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean up.

Combine the salt, pepper, onion and garlic powders, and herbs de provence with the olive oil in a small bowl and whisk together until a sandy paste is formed. Lay out the chicken on the baking sheet and baste the chicken with the wet rub using a basting brush on both sides. Place in oven uncovered and cook for 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (cooking time with vary depending on how thick the chicken breasts are). Serve hot.

Easy Weeknight Garlic Green Beans
1 steam-in-bag mix green and yellow beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Place bag of beans in microwave and cook on high for 5-6 minutes (or according to package directions). Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil on low heat in a large saute pan. Add the garlic and cook for a minute until fragrant, then add the beans and toss to coat well. Cook for 3-5 and serve hot.

My notes:

Herbs de provence is a spice combination of dried thyme, savory, basil, fennel seeds, and lavender. Other combinations also include dried rosemary and/or oregano as well, but thyme is the dominant herb. You should be able to find this spice combination at your local grocery store or Williams-Sonoma, but if you can't you can certainly make your own in a large batch and keep it for up to a year in an air-tight glass spice bottle. It's wonderful with chicken, fish, and soups and stews.

Make Ahead Tip: prep your chicken first thing in the morning and refrigerate covered until you're ready to bake it for dinner.

Green beans are what I had on hand when I made this meal -- you can certainly substitute asparagus or broccoli for a quick garlic saute side dish as well. I like to invest in a few of these steamable bags of veggies because they make a quick and healthy side dish literally in five minutes.

No comments: