I do realize now that after five years, this blog has served me well. I can go back among the archives and find some of my favorites for reuse. Isn't having an archive of the recipes I come up with one of my main reasons for having a blog? I have been very happy I have this blog in the past couple of weeks.
I'm looking forward to Easter as I'm trying some new things and resurrecting some old favorites for the day. I've been reading many of my blog buddies' anticaptory Easter posts and I look forward to reading more of them and seeing what everyone plans to eat or ate for the holiday (Passover too if that's how your're inclined).
Anyway, I really didn't want to wait until Easter to make a post. I needed some ideas.
This weekend while watching some random show on Food Network or the Cooking Channel, I saw some show about a French bistro. Although it wasn't one of the dishes featured on the show, a bunch of grilling chicken breasts on the stove caught my eye. They looked good to me.
I don't know why I felt so drawn to chicken breasts. I think they can be one of the most boring meats around. They have the advantage of being meatier than thighs and , but they can also have much less flavor. Then I thought rationally. A French chef (or really any good chef) can take simple ingredients and treat them properly and make something that could be bland into something delicious. If I thought chicken breasts were boring, all I had to do was remember the chicken I had at the restaurant in Versailles.
I ended up with a strong desire to make, and a strong craving to eat, a pan-roasted chicken breast topped with a light and flavorful pan sauce. I decided the next dinner I cooked would be the best chicken breast I could make and would be utterly TERP-worthy.
I really wanted the breasts to be flavorful and juicy, so I brined them first with salt, bay leaves, lemon zest, peppercorns and juniper berries.
I often find I have to walk a fine line when I'm brining smaller pieces of meat. Turkeys take brining well, but it can be hard for small pieces to not be too salty. I had that issue when I tried brining pork chops and I had a bit of that problem when I brined these breasts. They had the desired texture, but there did seem to be a concentration of salt in the skin. I also think the riesling was a little too aggressive. I should have used a sweet one instead of a dry one.
I think I was heading in the right direction with this dish even if it wasn't perfect. I will definitely try again and tinker with the ingredients a bit.
Pan Roasted Chicken Breasts in Riesling Sauce
- 2 quarts water
- 1/2 cup salt
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 tsp juniper berries
- 1 tsp peppercorns
- 4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
- Zest (and only the zest) of 1 lemon
- 2 cups of ice
Chicken and sauce ingredients
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
- 2 Tbl olive oil
- 2 large shallts, minced
- 1 cup riesling
- 1 Tbl chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 Tbl butter
In a large saucepan combine all bring ingredients except for ice. Bring to a boil and boil a minute or two then remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Place brine in a large bowl with the ice and the chicken. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to cook your chicken, carefully rinse off the brine and pat chicken pieces dry.
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large pan heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the chicken breasts to the pan skin side down. Brown chicken well on both sides, about 10 minutes per side. Place in the oven and cook an additional 20 minutes.
Remove chicken from pan and keep warm. Add shallots to the pan and cook until softened. Add riesling, scraping up all of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer until reduced by half. Add rosemary and butter and cook an additional minute.