Friday, June 27, 2014

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

So here I was, enjoying a beautiful day off, watching the Food Network and working on a chicken breast recipe that I've been mulling over for the past couple of weeks. I had my tweaks and ideas written down and decided to run downstairs to the kitchen to make sure I had all of the ingredients I needed.  Well, I popped open the fridge... and realized that I had cooked my chicken breasts the other day and instead I had chicken thighs defrosting in there. Bah!

Oh well, at least I had something defrosting to make for dinner. I hopped on here to see what I could whip up with chicken thighs that wouldn't take much work. (By this point, I was a tad hangry. Having my cooking plans thwarted so makes me both hungry and angry.)

To my surprise, I realized that I had never posted this recipe. I've made this dish several times a month since Christmas, as it is yet another dish inspired by something I found in Joe's Cookbook. In his version, he uses whole chicken legs, sunchokes and a fancy preserved lemon gremolata. At this point, about the only thing my recipe has in common with his is the fact that it roasts in a 450 degree oven for 30 minutes.

But before we get to the recipe, I want to talk for a quick second about sliced onions.  Whenever I'm using onions "as a vegetable" (as opposed to as a flavoring agent, i.e. in a sauce), I like to have big pieces that I can bite into.  I discovered this technique months ago when I was working on some homemade Chinese food. Just slice them lengthwise...
By leaving a little bit of the root, you get nice connected chunks of onion that roast up beautifully. This is how they sliced onions at my regular work-lunch Chinese restaurant back in Rochester.

2 chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on)
3 medium carrots, cleaned and cut into chunks
1 medium onion, sliced (see above)
3 cloves garlic, two sliced and one minced finely
1/4 tsp olive oil
2 tsp butter (one tablespoon is 3 teaspoons, so for this I use about 2/3 tablespoon as measured by the butter package)
1/4 tsp dried thyme, plus a little more for sprinkling
2 tsp cider vinegar
2 tsp honey
1 tsp whole-grain mustard
1 tsp dijon mustard (if you only have one kind of mustard, just use 2 tsp of that mustard)
Kosher salt
Ground pepper

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a baking vessel of your choice, toss the carrots, onion, sliced garlic and olive oil with a sprinkling of kosher salt and ground pepper.  I use my 10.5" cast iron skillet, but a small casserole dish or cake pan would work perfectly fine here. In a bowl, mash together the butter, minced garlic, thyme and another sprinkle of kosher salt.

Use your fingers to pull the skin away from the meat on your chicken thighs, making a little pocket. Rub the compound butter into this pocket and when that's all massaged in there, wipe your hands off on the outside of the chicken skin.
Lay the chicken on top of the bed of vegetables and sprinkle them with more dried thyme and a tiny pinch of salt.
Pop the whole thing into the oven for 30 minutes.

Wash your dishes now and you'll love life later.

In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar, honey, mustard and another small pinch of salt and set aside.

When you pull the pan out of the oven, use a pair of thongs, fork, or slotted spoon to plate the chicken and the vegetables, letting the liquid drain back into the pan a little bit.

Now, in the bottom of that pan you'll have a combination of garlicky oil, butter, chicken fat and burnt/caramelized onion bits. Scrape the bottom of the pan with your thongs or spoon or whatever, and whisk this deliciousness into the the honey-mustard concoction. (You don't actually need to use a whisk, I use a fork.)

Note: If you just want to make the honey mustard vinaigrette to put on a salad or whatever, just whisk in 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil instead of the pan drippings.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables and enjoy.

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