July Recipe of the Month – Chicken baked on stale bread (yes, really!)

Gee, I just realized I never did post a June Recipe of the Month, but I think in my mind, that was the Butterscotch-Pecan Scone recipe I included with my post on Finlandia butter.

So, let’s mosey right along to this month, this hot, hot month. Frankly, except for a couple quick grocery store trips, I’ve been ordering groceries from FreshDirect, as I just can’t endure this heat, and don’t want to carry a lot of stuff up my exterior stairs when I get home a hot mess. So, the other night, it was “cook or freeze time” for the chicken thighs (bone in and skin on) in my last order. And I had a big loaf of their Bread Alone white bread that is like a European miche, which means it keeps very well in the fridge or freezer, thanks to a bit of sourdough in it (good article, with fabulous photo, here, and another article with recipe here). I think I got this bread at least three weeks ago. It kind of goes stale, but I think of it more like hibernation or suspended animation – when you use it for toast or grilled cheese, or a dish like this, it comes back to life!

I’d torn up several slices and crisped them up in the oven with garlic (powder) and olive oil to use as rustic croutons. But I still had several slices left, even though I got it early this month. So I got the bright idea of roasting the chicken on the bread. Not sure what triggered that, but when I googled, I found what sounded like a delicious recipe on the New York Times Cooking site for Garlic and Thyme Roasted Chicken With Crispy Dripping Croutons. What a mouthful that name is (pun intended).

Of course, I had to make many adaptions since the NYT recipe called for a whole chicken, and pieces of bread sliced at least a half-inch thick. The bread I had was sliced thinner than that, maybe 3/8″.  (Next time I go to Wegmans – in the fall! – I want to get some of their excellent miche, which, unlike FreshDirect’s, is available unsliced.) So I used three slices in all, two laid flat in the baking dish and the other one cut in half and put on top of those in the center. I drizzled the bread with olive oil. (Don’t stint with that.)

I coated the chicken with a little more olive oil and seasoned it with garlic (frozen pressed), dried thyme, and s&p, and put thin slices of lemon on top since I didn’t have a cavity to stuff. Baked it at 375 degrees for about 50 minutes, and – this is unusual for me – I really did check it with my instant-read thermometer (which is never truly “instant”), since it was going to take longer, I knew, than just roasting thighs right on the bottom of a baking dish. At the end, the outside bits of bread had crisped up beautifully without burning, and the bread directly under the chicken was moist with juice and, yes, fat. A few little bits of bread had glued themselves to the baking dish, and I found myself prying them off and popping them into my mouth after I transferred the leftover chicken to a storage container. I could not waste a single delicious morsel.

I enjoyed this with a generous salad on the side (with some of my marinated zucchini and roasted tomatoes), and it was a fantastic dinner. Now I’ll look forward to having stale bread to use up!

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4 thoughts on “July Recipe of the Month – Chicken baked on stale bread (yes, really!)

  1. Thanks for the kitchen adventure, Faith. You make it sound fun — even in heat of this magnitude. I think I remember French and even medieval recipes where birds were roasted on a spit, and bread was under them to catch the juices. They were served together. I don’t only mean big birds — I shudder to admit the French were famous for doing this with tiny ones, ortolans, which may be in the thrush family. Sigghhh… They ate the ortolans whole, head under a napkin to gather every bit of fragrance and savor. Remember Gig’s being taught to do this, chewing the bones… Leave it to the French. Yours is far more civilized! Many thanks c

  2. Wow, and here I was defrosting a huge package of bone in, skin on chicken thighs and wondering what on earth I could do with them that was different. Good timing, Faith!

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