Lemon Herb Chicken

Ever since I got my beautiful red dutch oven from my parents for Christmas I have been making excuses to use it. Last week I went to the store and bought a ton of sale chicken. A whole chicken for chicken stock and a package of 6 huge chicken breasts with tenders attached. Matt loves to eat chicken, its the only protein he can justify in his diet other than the occasional piece of bacon or meatball. I thought this is definitely $15 well spent. Matt cut up the chicken for me, saving the skin, backbone and any weird chunks for stock. He forced me to save all meat, wings and legs included – which I am not comfortable or fond of cooking. I managed to use the leg/thigh meat in the crock pot for my cheesy chicken and rice (I think that recipe is on here), which was delicious except for the occasional bone chunk :/. After the first discovery, the meal turned anxiety ridden and scary as we waited for the next spotting. On a lighter note, I managed to get 12 cups of beautiful, rich stock from my scraps – 1 1/4 of which I am using at this very moment.

Tonight’s meal is a modified version of this recipe (hyperlink here). I used chicken breasts instead of thighs and dijon mustard with a hint of chardonnay instead of coarse brown. Mom – what is more perfect for my palate than dijon mustard with chardonnay?? I have been using it in everything, from dressings to chicken rubs. This recipe uses my freshly made stock and my new dutch oven!

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1/2 tsp dijon mustard (with chardonnay!)

1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves

1/2 tsp dried oregano

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 1/4 cups chicken stock

2 garlic cloves (smashed)

Olive oil

KosherS&P

First thing first, preheat the Enterprise. I have discovered that the light turns off once its preheated, I am amazed that function still works but happy because it takes twice as long to preheat as I expected. 400 degrees. Then start heating the dutch oven over medium heat with about 1 tbs of olive oil.

I mixed together the thyme, oregano, 1 tsp of lemon zest, mustard, S&P, and one tbs of olive oil together in a small dish. This becomes the rub for the chicken. I used a brush to spread it on my chicken, both sides.

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In another bowl, I poured the chicken stock and mixed it with the juice of 1 lemon and the remaining lemon zest.

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After the dutch oven heated up, I added the smashed garlic cloves to flavor the oil. They cooked up for about a minute and then I removed only the cloves from the pan, leaving the yummy smelling olive oil behind.

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Add the chicken to the pan, just to turn each side golden. I needed to turn the heat up to medium high to turn this process into 4 minutes per side, you could probably leave it at medium and cook for 2-3 minutes per side. Just keep checking the chicken! Once both sides had a pretty herb crust, I poured in the stock/lemon juice mixture and moved the dutch oven into the oven. The chicken takes anywhere from 25-35 minutes. Surprisingly, my breasts cooked up in 25 minutes to 165 degrees internal. Yay, Enterprise!

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Up until this point, this recipe could not have been more perfect. The smell in the apartment was intoxicating, I can still smell the chicken and zest. The original recipe said to add 1 tbs of butter and 1 tbs of flour to the remaining juices in the pan. It turned my small amount of liquid into a thick, minimal amount of gravy. Don’t get me wrong, the gravy was glorious! But the amount was not enough to satisfy any lemon lover. Matt and I ate the chicken over spaghetti and next time, I will use the juice as is, maybe with a little butter.

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Despite the lackluster end to my cooking endeavor, Matt puts this chicken in the top 5 things I’ve ever made him. I agree! Sans weird gravy, this chicken rub was the bomb. The bomb dot com. 🙂

Balsamic Herb Pork Tenderloin

Many failed kitchen experiments this week. I have yet to find the right belgian waffle recipe for Matt’s amazing new maker. Boxed waffles come out perfect, while our attempts have been overly sweet, too soft, or crispy like an odd funnel cake. I’ll report back once I’ve found the right recipe.

In addition to meh waffles, I tried to make rice using beef stew as beef stock to cook it in. Uhh gross. And then I took the soup rice and made fried rice with a fresh onion, carrot, and egg. First bite in, you didn’t really notice anything. But then after the third or fourth and maybe a dash more soy sauce, it became revolting.

Needless to say, my cooking confidence and success have flatlined. BUT I do believe I brought it back to life tonight with this pork tenderloin. The thing has been sitting in my freezer for several months now, a teeny 1.2 lb pork tenderloin. On a whim I set in the fridge to thaw before my ski trip and I had to make it fast upon my return. My mom told me about a recipe she had been seeing on Pinterest for a slow cooker Balsamic Pork Tenderloin, but I had class all day today and no time to prepare that so I improvised with the help of Rachel Ray.

**Forgive my lack of photographs, they aren’t uploading right now. I’ll edit the post when I can.**

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1 tbs balsamic vinegar

1 tbs olive oil

1 tsp Italian seasoning

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder or 1 mashed garlic clove

Preheat the Enterprise to 500 degrees, this will take the whole prep time if not longer to achieve.

It took me forever to figure out how to prep the tenderloin but I shaved off as much of the white skin, or fat I guess, as I could and set it in a rimmed cookie sheet.  Pour about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar on top of the loin and massage it into the meat, be sure massage it into both sides. Drizzle the side in olive oil, just enough to coat it not enough to drench it, and then make light slices across the meat. Flip and repeat with the other side.

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For the herb crust, Rachel Ray uses fresh rosemary and thyme. I don’t have those things. I also only have ground thyme in my spice cabinet, which is weird and useless. So I used the next best thing, which has both in it, italian seasoning! Mix about 1 tsp of italian seasoning and salt in a bowl, grind in a bunch of black pepper, and add garlic powder if using instead of clove (I didn’t trust my garlic). Rub the tenderloin with the herb mix on both sides.

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Pop the loin in the oven for 20 minutes, pull it out and let it rest on the pan for 5 to 10 minutes, and then move to a cutting board to continue to rest or to cut. If I were a smart lady, I’d set the loin on the board and find some way to salvage the magical carnage on the cookie sheet into a gravy or sauce. But I am a frugal one cooking for two separate tastes. I laid Matt’s on a bed of white rice and mine on some orzo dressed with red wine vinegar, dijon, and olive oil (basically salad dressing).

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It was awesome. Dare I say, the best meal I’ve had since Taqueria two weeks ago??? 🙂 Just kidding, but it was delicious!