Rosemary and Mustard Chicken Thighs

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I am not a big fan of chicken or should I say I am not a big fan of chicken breast. I find chicken breast to be bland and uninspiring. Another reason I really don’t care for chicken is because it just doesn’t taste like it used to. Unfortunately, American agriculture has ruined chicken. But this is another discussion I really don’t want to get into now. All I will say in this limited space is chickens need to be free to run. A happy chicken is a tasty chicken.

This recipe utilizes boneless, skinless chicken thighs which on today’s chicken have much more flavor than the breast. It is also a simple recipe that comes together quickly. In just a little over an hour you can have a flavorful dinner on the table.

Here is what I did:

Rosemary and Mustard Chicken Thighs

Ingredients

1½ – 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (The happier the chicken the better.)
½ cup Dijon mustard (Do not use anything except Dijon, not even country style Dijon.)
¼ cup 100% pure maple syrup (No pancake syrup. 100% pure maple syrup only.)
2 tablespoon champagne wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Leaves from one small sprig fresh rosemary for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

In small bowl, whisk together Dijon mustard, maple syrup, champagne wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

Place the chicken thighs in an 8 x 8 inch baking dish. They will overlap some. Then pour the mixture on top of the thighs. Move the chicken around in the sauce to make sure all the thighs get coated.

Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the oven and transfer thighs to serving platter making sure to keep as much of the mustard sauce as possible in the baking dish.

Immediately after removing chicken thighs, whisk in the 1 tbsp. of cornstarch into the liquid in the pan. You may need to add another teaspoon or so of cornstarch if the sauce is not thickening, though be patient. Stir in rosemary. Drizzle over chicken after sauce thickens.

Serve with rice or pan fried potatoes.

Chèvre, Garlic, and Chive Stuffed Bone-in Chicken Breast

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Chèvre, Garlic, and Chive Stuffed Bone-in Chicken Breast plated with bacon weaved roasted Brussels sprouts and an almond rice pilaf.

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Stuffed and seasoned breasts in a cast iron skillet ready to cook.

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Admit it.  Most recipes for chicken breast are pretty bland and tend to be dried out. That’s because most recipes are for boneless and skinless chicken, the two things that give the chicken flavor and help the breast retain moisture.

This recipe has relatively few ingredients and comes together rather quickly. It could easily go from start to on the table in under an hour.

Although the directions in this recipe are for cooking in an oven, I have easily cooked this on a gas grill with great success too.

Chèvre, Garlic, and Chive Stuffed Bone-in Chicken Breast

Ingredients

4 ounces softened goat cheese
4 cloves garlic minced
Zest from one lemon
2 tablespoon chives minced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 medium bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, about 1 ½ pounds
Olive oil
½ cup unsalted butter

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Mix the goat cheese with the lemon zest, garlic and chives until well blended. Set aside.

Loosen the skin on the chicken breasts by running your fingers underneath it but leaving it attached at the edges. Then, working from the narrow end of the chicken breast, cut a deep slit into the breast and as far into the breast as you can go. Carefully create a cavity inside the breast without cutting through the other end or making the entry point wider than 1 ½ inches.

Divide the goat cheese mixture into six equal parts. Stuff a portion of the goat cheese mixture into the slit in one of the chicken breast, pushing it as deep as possible into the slit. Use a toothpick or two to hold the slit closed if necessary. Stuff another portion of the goat cheese mixture under the skin of the chicken breast. Massage your fingers across the top of the skin to spread the cheese into an even layer and covering as much of the breast as possible. Repeat with the other chicken breasts.

Place breasts in a large cast iron skillet, drizzle and rub in a little olive oil, and season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Place breasts in preheated oven. Meanwhile, melt a half cup of unsalted butter in a sauce pan and heat until just beginning to brown. After the breasts have cooked for 15 to 20 minutes, baste them with the melted butter. Continue cooking for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the skin is brown and crisp and an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast reads 165°F. Remove breasts from oven, baste one final time with butter in skillet. Tent with foil and let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Chicken Paillards with Asparagus and Lemon, Garlic, and Dill Sauce

I stopped at a farmer’s market for the first time today and picked up some fresh asparagus, one of my favorite spring treats. When I got home I made this quick, easy dish. The chicken has a very light breading and the garlic, lemon, and dill complement the asparagus very well. Here is what I did:

Ingredients

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
3 oz. (2/3 cup) all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup chicken broth
6 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 lemon, zested and squeezed to yield 1 tablespoon zest and 3 tablespoons juice
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 Tbs. chopped fresh dill
2 Tbs. unsalted butter

Directions

Pound each chicken breast between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to an even thickness; ¼ to ½ inch.

Combine the flour with approximately 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper.

Heat oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge the paillards in the flour. Shake off excess flour and place in the skillet. Do not crowd the skillet. Cook two at a time if paillards are too large. Cook about four to six minutes total flipping once half way through. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add the garlic to the skillet and cook over medium-high heat for about a minute or until right before garlic begins to turn color. Add the chicken broth and lemon zest, scraping up any browned bits from the skillet. Next, add the asparagus and nestle the chicken on top of the asparagus. Add any accumulated juice from chicken. Bring to a boil then turn the heat down to maintain a simmer and cook until the chicken is cooked through and the asparagus is tender, five to seven minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter or plates.

Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, dill, and butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the asparagus mixture over the chicken and serve.

A Simple Roasted Chicken

This roasted chicken is insanely easy to make. The simple seasonings and cooking method result in a roasted chicken with a nice crispy skin and tender, moist meat.

It’s a delicious chicken recipe any home cook can master and enjoy!

Ingredients

One 3 to 4 pound whole chicken (The happier the better.)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ Cup unsalted butter
Several sprigs of thyme. Remove the leaves from a sprig or two of thyme and set aside.

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Blot the chicken inside and out with paper towels.

Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird. Trussing is a good technique to feel comfortable with. The wings and legs stay close to the body when you truss a bird. The ends of the drumsticks cover the top of the breast and keep it from drying out. Trussing helps the chicken to cook evenly, and it also makes for a better presentation.

Now, season the outside of the bird with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Start by placing the chicken breast side down seasoning the back; flip and season the breast and legs.

Place the chicken in a cast iron skillet and place in the 450° oven. Leave it alone for at least 40 to 45 minutes. Then add the butter and thyme sprigs. Do not use the leaves yet. After another ten to 15 minutes, baste chicken with melted butter. Continue roasting until an instant read thermometer reads 165° inserted into the thickest part of the breast. Remove it from the oven, baste one more time, sprinkle with thyme leaves, tent with aluminum foil and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

Place on serving platter, remove the twine, and carve.

Chicken, Broccoli, Rice and Cheese Soup

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I love a good challenge. There is a lunch spot called The Prairie Soup Company a co-worker and I frequent that makes some of the best soups and some really amazing sandwiches. The chicken salad is fantastic. It actually reminds me of my mom’s.

One of their specialty soups is a chicken, broccoli, rice, and cheese soup. It is my favorite soup, but the problem is they make it very infrequently and we never know when. That is why at some point every morning either my co-worker or I will call them and ask what the Chef’s Choice soup is.

My co-worker challenged me to duplicate the soup. I am on vacation this week so I have some extra time to try. I think I nailed it. I would love to be able to taste what I came up with and what they make side-by-side. This soup is every bit as good as theirs.
Here is what I did:

Ingredients

4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 boneless chicken breast halves, cooked and shredded
1 (6 ounce) package quick cooking long grain and wild rice with seasoning packet (such as Uncle Ben’s)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup butter
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups broccoli flowerettes
8 oz sharp Cheddar finely shredded

Directions

Combine broth, water and chicken in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Bring to boiling and then stir in rice. Do not add the seasoning packet at this time. Cover and remove from heat.

Combine salt, pepper, and flour in a small bowl and set aside. Melt butter in a medium sized sauce pan and stir in contents of seasoning packet. Heat until butter begins to simmer. Reduce heat to low and then stir in flour mixture creating a roux. Slowly whisk in cream until fully incorporated and smooth. Cook about 3 to 5 minutes or until sauce thickens.

Return chicken, rice, and broth to heat and stir in roux. Add broccoli. Heat to a simmer and then whisk in the shredded cheese. Cook over medium heat about ten to fifteen minutes until heated through.

Parmesan Encrusted Chicken

For the longest time I have been turned off by chicken for various reasons. First, although I may not have been, it seemed like I was eating it all the time. Secondly, I tend to find chicken very bland. Finally, I have a problem with today’s chicken. It is bred for white meat and because of this, is typically pumped full of hormones and who knows what else to develop the desired parts of the bird.

Recently, I have begun including more chicken in my diet again. It is a great source of protein and if you choose your source wisely, you can avoid the mass of hormones and other chemicals. Even so, I still find chicken to be somewhat bland. The plus side to that though is that it takes on other flavors very well.

Here is one of my favorite chicken recipes that is relatively quick to make and provides a great flavor.

Ingredients

4 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon thyme leaves, chopped
Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 8 ounces each)
¾ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
¾ cup panko bread crumbs
Cooking spray

Directions

Preheat oven to 450° F.

Mix the mustard, thyme, ½ teaspoon salt and the cayenne in a medium bowl. Add the chicken breasts and turn to coat completely; set aside.

Pound chicken breast so the breast is a consistent thickness throughout but no less than a ½ thick.

In a medium shallow bowl, combine the Parmesan and panko. Dredge the chicken pieces in the panko mixture, Press the breasts into the mixture to coat evenly and give a very heavy coating.

Put the chicken on a rack set over a baking sheet, spray with a quick burst of cooking spray and put the sheet in the middle of the oven. Bake until the chicken is golden and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.

A versatile, Italian food friendly chicken: Pollo con pesto

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Here is a lightly breaded chicken breast that seems to go with most any type of Italian food. It tastes just as great with a marinara as it does with an Alfredo, or even a fresh pesto like I served it here.

Lightly Breaded, Italian Seasoned Chicken Breast

Ingredients

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into ½” thick strips
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Italian blend seasoning
buttermilk or whole milk
oil for cooking

Directions

Place chicken strips in glass bowl and cover with just enough buttermilk or whole milk to completely submerge. Let stand for approximately one hour. Meanwhile, mix flour, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning in shallow bowl.

Pour cooking oil in large skillet to cover bottom with approximately ¼ inch of oil and heat over medium high heat until shimmering. Dredge chicken breast in seasoned flour and fry for approximately four minutes and then turn and fry for three to four minutes on the other side. Set aside on paper towel lined plate.

Serve on top of your favorite pasta. Tonight I made fresh pesto. Here’s my pesto recipe.

Pesto

Ingredients

4 cups basil leaves packed fairly tight
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
½ cup grated Parmesan
4 cloves garlic
Kosher salt
Extra virgin olive oil (Start with ¼ cup)

Directions

First, toast your pine nuts by placing them in a skillet on the stove top and heating them on medium heat. Shake the pan often to prevent them from burning. It should take approximately 5 to 7 minutes to toast the pine nuts.

Place all ingredients except olive oil in food processor. Pulse several times to begin blending ingredients. Then constantly blend ingredients while drizzling olive oil into food processor. Use only enough oil to turn ingredients into smooth, thick sauce. The pesto should be able to hold a slight form. Add the pesto to your favorite pasta and blend well and serve immediately.