Recipe by Chef Josh Silvers
Brined Chicken Breasts
2 cloves garlic
4 sprigs thyme
6 black peppercorns
1⁄4 cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cups water
4 boneless, skin-on chicken breasts, about 8 ounces each (see Note)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 spaghetti squash (about 21⁄2 pounds)
3 slices apple wood–smoked bacon, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
1 1⁄2 cups heavy cream
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups baby spinach leaves
1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg yolk, beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
For the brined chicken breasts: In a saucepan, combine the garlic, thyme, peppercorns, salt, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool, then add several ice cubes until thoroughly chilled. Put the chicken in a bowl and pour the brine over it. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 or up to 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet and place the squash halves on it, cut side down. Roast until tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand until cool enough to handle. With a spoon, scoop out the squash flesh; it will come out in long strands, similar to spaghetti. Set aside, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day before using.
Increase the oven temperature to 450°F. Drain the chicken breasts, pat dry, and let come to room temperature. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the breasts, skin side down, and cook until browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Turn the chicken over, transfer the pan to the oven and roast until opaque throughout, about 16 to 18 minutes.
Meanwhile, for the spaghetti squash carbonara: In a large skillet, sauté the bacon over medium heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Add the cream and garlic to the pan with the bacon fat and cook, stirring, until cream is reduced by half, about 6 minutes. Add the spaghetti squash and stir until coated and heated through. Add the spinach to the pan and stir until wilted, 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the Parmesan, egg yolk, reserved bacon, salt, and pepper and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the parsley.
To serve, divide the spaghetti squash carbonara among 4 dinner plates. Top each with a roasted chicken breast and serve at once. Makes 4 main-course servings