Weeknight Dinner: Roasted Lemon Chicken Breast (Airline Cut)
Roasted Lemon Chicken Breast
Maybe you’ve come across one in a restaurant: a seemingly normal-looking baked chicken breast, except with a two-inch bare bone sticking out of it. This is called the “airline” cut (or suprême, in French), meaning it has the first joint of the wing still attached. It is done for purely dramatic reasons—when you want to impress your guests and visually elevate your chicken breast. However, it is also true that roasted bone-in chicken breast tastes much better than the boneless version—juicy, not rubbery, and more flavorful. I squeezed lots of lemon juice all over it in this recipe and slipped a lemon slice under the skin to make it tangy and very tasty.
I didn’t prepare the airline cut myself this time (I asked my butcher to do it, because I was cooking for eight people and didn’t want to buy four whole chickens), but it is pretty easy. If you don’t want to be bothered, this recipe works with regular, bone-in chicken breasts, too, but don’t skip the extra step of crisping the skin briefly in a skillet. It is a neat trick I learned from the pros, and it’s hard to achieve in the oven at a lower temperature.
The side is very simple: roasted vegetables with cilantro and olive oil. Feel free to alternate and improvise with what’s currently in season, and throw it in the oven at the same time as the chicken.
- Serves 4
- 1 lemon
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (airline cut optional)
- Black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 large carrot, peeled, grated
- 1½ cups corn, fresh or frozen
- 1 large head broccoli, cut into small florets
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, and lightly spray or brush with vegetable oil.
- Slice the lemon in half. Cut two 1/8-inch-thick rounds from each half, starting on the bigger side. Reserve the remaining ends.
- Wash the chicken breasts, pat them dry, and cut off any excess fat. Carefully lift the skin on one side (use a knife to cut the tissue, if necessary), squeeze lemon juice all over the meat using one of the lemon ends, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Place a lemon slice on top of the meat, and pull the skin back over it. Transfer the breasts onto the baking sheet. Squeeze the juice of the other lemon end over the breasts. Again, sprinkle with salt and pepper generously.
- Place in the oven, and bake until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast reaches 160 degrees, about 35–40 minutes.
- Place the carrot, corn, broccoli and cilantro in a medium casserole dish. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper to taste, and mix. Bake in the oven, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 25–30 minutes.
- Right before the chicken is done, preheat a large skillet over low heat for 4 minutes. Pour in the vegetable oil, swirl it around to coat the skillet, and increase the heat to medium. Place the chicken breasts, skin-side down, into the skillet and let cook, without touching, until the skin is crispy and golden brown, about 4 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes.
- Arrange the breast on top of the vegetables and serve.