SPLIT CHICKEN BREASTS WITH BROWN BUTTER, GREEN TEA SAUCE
If you’ve never of a “split chicken breast” before, boy are you in for a treat. This cut includes a single breast with the back breast plate pone and the skin still attached. Believe me when I tell you, this cut is like the Cadillac of white meat chicken. It’s lean but full of flavor and fairly quick to prepare. The bone conducts heat and helps the meat cooke more evenly throughout the breast. And the skin keeps the meat juicy and provides crispy, delicious flavor when its time to dig in.
The split breast works great for any occasion—a smaller meal where a whole chicken might not be necessary, or an unsettling gathering of folks who only like white meat. And split breasts are versatile enough for a number of different preparations because they’re responsive to most cooking techniques. With the bone and skin intact, the meat is better protected from high heat sources, so searing, grilling, or roasting work extremely well for this cut.
This particular recipe calls for the pan-roasting method, which will give us some great pan drippings for a simple sauce. I call it a brown butter “gravy” because it’s similar to the Southern classic Red Eye Gravy—a sauce made of pan drippings, coffee and stock (or water) generally made in the pan that a ham was fried in. The brown bits on the bottom of the pan are called ‘fond’, and the process of adding liquid to the pan to help release the fond is called “deglazing.” But don’t worry, this recipe is a bit healthier than all that. All we’re going to use a is bit of green tea and chicken stock to deglaze our pan. And this sauce doesn’t use any flour for thickening, so this qualifies as a Paleo meal. Serve with roasted vegetables and rice or over a brothy Pot au Feu—a French country stew dish of vegetables and rich buttery chicken broth.
Split Chicken Breasts with Brown Butter Green Tea “Gravy”
2-4 split chicken breasts, depending on the size of your dinner party
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
1 T olive oil
1 T butter
4 oz Gen Ma Chai*, or another style of green tea, freshly steeped
1 C chicken Stock
1 t honey
2 T freshly chopped herbs(parsley, thyme, tarragon)
Juice of one lemon
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Season the chicken breast with the salt and fresh cracked pepper, about 1-2 teaspoons for each breast.
- In a 10-inch cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil on medium high until the oil shimmers.
- Add the chicken breast skin side down and cook until it is golden brown. Try not to move the chicken around while the skin is browning. Leave it be. You can tug at the side just a little bit with a pair of tongs to take a peek at the color of the skin, but the more you move the meat, the less evenly it will be seared.
- Flip the chicken breast over onto the breast plate and then put the skillet into the oven. Let the chicken roast in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, until a thermometer reads 160 internally, away from the bone.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside to rest, tented with foil, on a platter. It will carry over to the perfect temperature of 165 and the meat will be tender and juicy.The pan should have a good bit of fat drippings and fond in it at this point. We want to keep a little of that chicken fat in the pan, but we also want to get our brown butter flavors incorporated into our sauce.
- Pour out all but a about a tablespoon of chicken fat and return the skillet to the heat. Add the butter and let it cook until it gets nice and bubbly and starts to brown a bit.
- Use a spatula or a whisk to scrape up some fond and let it cook further with the butter. Once the butter is reaching that nutty brown flavor, add the green tea and the stock to fully deglaze the skillet. It’s best to whisk or scrape vigorously as you add liquid to the pan. This will help to break up any fond that is left on the pan and incorporate it into the sauce.
- Let the sauce reduce by a third, or even half, depending on your desired consistency and richness of flavor. While the sauce is reducing, stir in the honey, and then finish with the herb and lemon.
- Remove from the heat and then carefully remove the bone from the underside of the chicken breast.
- Slice the breast meat and drizzle it with the brown butter gravy. Garnish with a bit more fresh herbs and it’s ready to serve.
*Gen Ma Chai is a green tea that is mixed with roasted rice, and has a delicious savory flavor. It works great in cooking, and it is also one of my favorite cups of hot tea. It can be found in most grocery stores fairly easily, or at online specialty retailers or Asian markets. If you cannot source this tea, most any green tea would be fine, although I don’t think I would condone any peppermint or spearmint green teas as the flavor could be overpowering.