Truth be told, I don’t really care for boneless, skinless chicken breast. I have always loved other foods exponentially more, so I’ve tended to ignore chicken completely. Some exceptions apply, like braised chicken thighs or crispy chicken thighs, of course, but dark meat is a whole other conversation completely.
As a personal chef, its literally impossible for me to avoid cooking chicken breast. Clients love it, health-conscious people love it….pretty much everyone besides me loves it. Unfortunately, one of the most common grievances I hear from people about chicken is that they don’t like to cook it themselves. Fears of serving undercooked chicken cause home-cooks to over-compensate by brutally overcooking it, so it never turns out very good. Well, I hear your grievances, and offer you this technique/recipe for easy roasted chicken with mushrooms.
I decided to create this healthy, simple, weeknight-friendly chicken dinner to be less about bells and whistles and more about cooking simple chicken breast well. The mushrooms are an added bonus. They require very little prep work and can roast on the sheet tray with the chicken in the oven. Something about their earthy qualities lends flavor and a red-meat-meatiness to the chicken, which, as a non-chicken lover, I really appreciate.
The key to well cooked chicken is timing. Too long and it dries out, too short and it’s literally unsafe to eat. So how do you know what’s the right amount of time? From all the chicken I’ve cooked over the years, my pretty fool proof timing is about 20-30 minutes for a 6-8 ounce piece of chicken that gets cooked entirely in a 400 degree oven. An even more fool proof way is to use a meat thermometer. Chicken should cook to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. A few degrees short is acceptable because it will continue to cook out of the oven from what’s called “carry-over cooking”, so better to pull it a few degrees under rather than over.
Since we are walking through this together, I wanted to add a little flare to the chicken. Simple flare, but flavorful flare. So, we aren’t going to just pop the chicken in the oven. First, we are going to sear the chicken in a hot pan. My reasoning for this is to get that golden brown crust on the outside which equals flavor, and chicken needs all the flavor boost it can get, am I right?
Start out by searing the chicken breasts in a hot pan with olive oil, flipping halfway through to get both sides golden brown. Then, transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Arrange the mushrooms on the other half of the pan and toss them with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Here you see shiitake mushrooms and enoki mushrooms, which are two meaty mushrooms that I really love. I suggest trying a variety of different mushrooms, which are easier and easier to find at all kinds of grocery stores these days. If you can, avoid the white button mushrooms. These are fine for certain occasions, but they leach a lot of water when they cook and I don’t want that excess liquid taking over everything else on the tray.
Since we seared the chicken first, it needs less time in the oven. Instead of the 20-30 minutes I recommended above, now we can cut our cook time down to 15-ish minutes. Start checking the temperature of the chicken after 10 minutes, but most likely it will be done in 15, and if your portions are on the bigger side it might be closer to 20. When I reach in to test for doneness at ten minutes, I also use some tongs to toss the mushrooms.
Let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes after coming out of the oven. I like to slice it before serving and top each with a pile of mushrooms, then voila! Your chicken dinner is served! Pretty easy, eh?
There is something really satisfying about this simple plate of food. Obviously the technique for searing and then roasting the chicken is adaptable to all kinds of recipes, so I hope you’ll whip this up quite often. Depending on what your health goals are this month, or any time of year really, you can round out this meal with a bowl of buttery rice with green peas, or Parmesan pasta, or roasted sweet potatoes or a mixed greens salad. Keep it simple, as they say!
An easy answer for a weeknight chicken dinner. Simple, flavorful, interesting.
2 6-8 ounces chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
8–12 ounces of assorted mushrooms like shiitake, enoki or oyster
2+2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1–2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a sheet tray with a layer of parchment paper.
Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and warm.
Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Set chicken in the hot pan. Oil should sizzle when you add the chicken. If not, remove and let the oil heat up longer. Sear chicken until golden brown, then flip and sear the second side until brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to the prepared sheet pan.
Cut rough stems off the mushrooms and set on the sheet tray with the chicken. Drizzle the mushrooms with olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to coat well. Place sheet tray in the oven. After 8-10 minutes, stir the mushrooms. After about 15 minutes, check the chicken. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken should register 160-165 degrees. Remove finished chicken from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.
While the chicken rests, sprinkle the roasted mushrooms with parsley and toss with sherry vinegar.
Slice chicken breasts crosswise, then transfer each to a plate and top with a mound of mushrooms. Serve warm.