So here’s what I know about chicken. Smaller is easier to cook, more tender and juicer. Free-range is tastier. And bone-in skin-on is far better than the boneless, skinless variety. So why have I so often used “naked” chicken breasts? Convenience would have been my answer, had you asked.
But this recipe is a game changer. Nothing could be easier to prep or faster to cook. And if you buy decent chicken, smash it as directed, season it ahead of time to let the flavor soak in and use this cooking method, the results will be delicious every time. —Anna French
On a cutting board, combine and mince together the garlic and the lemon zest. Add the salt and pepper and combine well to create the seasoning mix for the chicken.
Place the chicken breasts, one at a time, in a gallon zip lock bag and, using a heavy cast iron skillet, pound the chicken to an even 1/2 inch thickness. This will only take a couple of good whacks and the bones will break as the breast flattens.
Rub the chicken on all sides with the seasoning mixture, being sure to get a little bit under the skin as well. Place the seasoned chicken on a tray and refrigerate uncovered for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Add the olive oil. Add 2 of the chicken breasts, skin side down, and cook over hight heat until golden brown, just on that one side. Remove from the pan and repeat with remaining 2 breasts. When they are browned, return the first 2 breasts to the pan, making sure that all 4 are skin side up now, and roast in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or until just cooked through. Roasting time will vary depending on the size of the breasts. Cook to 160° F or until juices run clear. Let rest for 5 minutes and serve.