Now that we are nearing the end of winter, I am ready to move away from my usual slow-cooking soups and stews, with their emphasis on root vegetables and pantry staples and their melded flavors and textures. Come spring, I enjoy dishes where individual ingredients have a pronounced flavor. This chicken dish provides just that: the chicken, rosemary, and tomatoes each have a distinct presence that marries beautifully with the slightly sweet yet spicy honey sauce.
This chicken dish has been a family favorite for years, modified over time to streamline the technique and reduce the amount of olive oil. It makes for an easy meal with limited hands-on time and only one dish to wash. This chicken dish is as good reheated for lunch or dinner on subsequent days as it is the first time.
Chicken Breasts with Honey, Rosemary, and Cherry Tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 chicken breast halves, with skin on and bone in
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons honey
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, washed, stems removed
6 fresh rosemary sprigs
Large pinch of red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar
- Preheat oven to 400˚F.
- Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish and distribute the sliced garlic evenly.
- Season chicken breasts liberally on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Lay chicken breasts on top of garlic, skin side up.
- Pour honey and remaining tablespoon of olive oil across chicken breasts and then arrange the rosemary sprigs, tomatoes, and red pepper flakes on top and around the chicken breasts.
- Cook chicken breasts on center rack of oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the tomatoes are starting to burst, and the chicken breasts are cooked through. The cooking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of your chicken breasts.
- .After removing baking dish from the oven, discard the rosemary sprigs and transfer the chicken breasts to a serving platter or individual plates. Add vinegar to the baking juices.
- Remove the skin from the chicken breasts if you are concerned about consuming the extra calories and fat, and serve the chicken breasts with the baking juices.
- Chicken Thighs with Honey, Rosemary, and Cherry Tomatoes. Substitute chicken thighs for the chicken breasts.
- Chicken Thighs with Honey, Sage, and Cherry Tomatoes. Try using another type of herb such as thyme, sage, or oregano in place of the rosemary.
- Halibut with Honey, Rosemary, and Cherry Tomatoes. Instead of chicken breasts, substitute a thick fish fillet such as cod or halibut. Reduce the cooking time to 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fish. Use lemon juice before serving instead of the vinegar to brighten the flavors.
To see if your chicken has cooked through, pierce a section of the meaty flesh with the tip of a knife. If the juices run clear, your chicken is done. If the juices have a pinkish tint, continue to cook your chicken a bit longer. Alternatively, you can use a meat thermometer: 165˚F is the minimum internal temperature suggested for chicken.
Chicken in general and chicken breasts (white meat) more specifically are a good low-fat, high-protein choice for meat eaters. If you prefer to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this recipe, you will need to reduce your cooking time to about 25 minutes. Note that chicken breasts cooked with the bone in and skin on have significantly more flavor, nutrient value, and succulence. Chicken bones provide more flavor and nutrients to the meat, and chicken skin acts as a protective coat to make sure the meat does not dry out. If you are going to eat chicken, it is smart to go for the maximum nutrient benefits and flavor.
For more health information check out the Yoffie Life Food Encyclopedia page on chicken breasts.
For years, we have been taught to wash poultry before cooking. Recent evidence indicates that washing poultry is actually a bad idea: running water over chicken risks splashing bacteria across you, your kitchen sink and countertops, and any food you may have nearby. The heat from your oven is sufficient to kill any bacteria on the poultry, and washing your hands and utensils carefully after contact with poultry will eliminate the risk of cross contamination.