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How to make it

  • Note:
  • We prefer to split whole chicken breasts ourselves because store-bought split chicken breasts are often sloppily butchered. However, if you prefer to purchase split chicken breasts, try to choose 10- to 12-ounce pieces with skin intact. If split breasts are of different sizes, check the smaller ones a few minutes early to see if they are cooking more quickly, and remove them from the skillet if they are done ahead. This sauce is a variation on the Italian sweet-sour combination called agrodolce.
  • 1. Dissolve salt in 2 quarts cold tap water in large container or bowl; submerge chicken in brine and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 30 minutes. Rinse chicken pieces under running water and pat dry with paper towels. Season chicken with pepper.
  • 2. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees.
  • 3. Heat oil in heavy-bottomed 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke; swirl skillet to coat with oil. Brown chicken skin-side down until deep golden, about 5 minutes; turn chicken pieces and brown until golden on second side, about 3 minutes longer. Turn chicken skin-side down and place skillet in oven. Roast until juices run clear when chicken is cut with paring knife, or thickest part of breast registers 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer chicken to platter, and let rest while making sauce. (If not making sauce, let chicken rest 5 minutes before serving.)
  • 4. Using potholder to protect hands from hot skillet handle, pour off most of fat from skillet; add shallot, then set skillet over medium-high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until shallot is softened, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add chicken broth, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, red wine, red wine vinegar, and bay; increase heat to high and simmer rapidly, scraping skillet bottom with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, until slightly thickened and reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Pour accumulated chicken juices into skillet, reduce heat to medium, and whisk in butter 1 piece at a time; season to taste with salt and pepper and discard bay. Spoon sauce around chicken breasts and serve immediately.
  • Note: STEP-BY-STEP
  • Splitting Whole Chicken Breasts We’ve found store-bought split chicken breasts to be problematic. Some are so sloppily cut that the tenderloins are missing, some retain only tiny shreds of tattered skin, and some packages contain wildly divergent sizes. Consequently, we advise purchasing whole breasts and splitting them yourself.
  • The basic method for splitting a chicken breast is to simply push a chef’s knife through the skin, flesh, and bone. While this method is straightforward, sometimes the split breasts end up lopsided, and sometimes both lobes are marred by unruly bits of bone and cartilage around which a knife and fork must eventually navigate. Enter a classic technique for splitting a chicken breast. It involves the removal of the keel bone and cartilage that divide the breast, thereby making the chicken easier to eat. This method takes a few extra minutes, but we think it’s time well spent.
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