Crispy Potato Chicken
Dry chicken. Nothing worse, am I right?
In this house, oven-baked breasts are most frequently the object of disappointment, a situation that we have partially resolved by defaulting to tastier (and more reliable) chicken thighs.
Things really changed in the late ’80s with the whole “skinless” phenomenon, driven by concerns about the high levels of saturated fat in poultry skin. Another darn shame, since one of life’s greatest pleasures has to be the crispy skin on a roasted chicken.
I repeat. Am I right?
Nonetheless, at some point during my darkest days of baking skinless chicken breasts and being sad with the results, I stumbled on a genius recipe that substitutes the skin with one made of grated potato, Dijon mustard and garlic. The potato skin is crispy, the mustard flavour permeates the white meat and — best of all — the chicken stays nice and juicy.
The recipe itself has a fascinating genesis. I stumbled on it in one of my many Anne Lindsay cookbooks, 1991’s Lighthearted Everyday Cooking, but it was actually developed as part of American national project launched in 1988 with a goal to help individuals reduce their fat intake by 30 per cent.
Project L.E.A.N (Low-fat Eating for Americans Now) involved chefs and food journalists in a mission to create and share recipes that had less fat without compromising taste. “The literature,” notes an academic abstract for the U.S. National Library of Medicine / National Institutes of Health, “shows that consumers, despite verbalizing health concerns, choose food on the basis of taste.”
It concluded: “If taste is what consumers are seeking in low-fat items, and improved taste will finally get ambivalent consumers to change their eating behaviour, enlisting the expertise of chefs is key.”
Kitchen Castoff Used
None today. Though I have considered throwing away my will to live as the remaining 17 days of this project does seem like an eternity.
This is how we did it
- 2 bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed
- 1 cup grated potato
- 3 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
Heat over to 425 degrees and prepare a baking pan with spray or a layer of foil. (I usually do foil since it makes clean-up a lot easier.
Place potatoes in a bowl of ice water, let sit for at least five minutes. While they are soaking, mix the mustard and garlic in a small bowl. Spread evenly over the meaty side of the chicken.
Drain the potatoes, and use a paper towel to squeeze out any excess water. Toss with the olive oil, then evenly spread the potato over the chicken, pressing lightly into the mustard, to form a “skin.” Sprinkle with salt and paper. Bake for 40 – 50 minutes, or until the meat is cooked. We added an extra 20 minutes to our cooking time, since the breasts were quite large.
Curious about my “Kitchen Castoffs” concept? Here’s the explainer describing my 100-day project.
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