I often find myself throwing things into my cart at the grocery store with no particular recipe in mind. I pretty much just go with the flow of what sounds good, taking inspiration from various cooking/food blogs and websites. My lemon thyme chicken was born that way, and proud of it.That’s the great thing about cooking. You can either follow recipes step-by-step, or just use them as a guide to learn what flavors go well together. For this dish, I wanted to use lemon and thyme because chicken loves them (and, well, so do I). Once I chose the flavors I wanted to work with, I added from there.
When you create your own recipes, it’s important to start simple. A dish can go from flavorful to flavor-overload in an instant. That being said, don’t be afraid to try different things. Testing out recipes is always a fun way to spend time in the kitchen.
Now, onto the chicken. You will need boneless skinless chicken breasts, lemons, dijon mustard, honey, thyme, red pepper flakes, flour, chicken stock, salt and pepper.
On this occasion, I used thin chicken cutlets because they were on sale at the store. Buying thin chicken cutlets also saves time in the preparation process. If you have full chicken breasts, simply slice them through the center as if you were going to make a sandwich out of the two halves.
Fill a dish with 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour and add a generous amount of salt and pepper along with 1 tablespoon of dried thyme. Mix the flour so that all of the seasoning is distributed evenly.
While the pan is heating, zest two lemons. Zest is the yellow part of the lemon peel. It contains all of the fruit’s essential oils. Lemon zest adds wonderful flavor to a myriad of savory and sweet dishes.I used amicro-planeto zest the lemons. I find that the micro-plane is a good tool to have in the kitchen. I use it for zesting, grating nutmeg, garlic, hard cheeses, etc. If you don’t have a micro-plane, the fine grate side of a box grater will work just as well.
Note: don’t grate off the white portion of the lemon, as it is very bitter.
When the oil is hot enough, it’s time to saute. Saute is French for ‘jump,’ which is what the oil does when you put your food in the pan. You want the oil to be smokin’ hot – literally. If the oil is not at the smoking point before you put your food in the pan, the chicken will absorb the oil and steam instead of getting nice and golden brown. We want golden brown chicken, so again, make sure the oil is smoking hot before you add your chicken to the pan.
Let the chicken cook for a few minutes. Don’t move it, don’t touch it. Just let it do its thing. We’re aiming for that golden brown look and if you keep moving it, it won’t get there. So, as the Beatles said, just ‘let it be.’ After a few minutes, lift up an edge of the chicken cutlets to see they are ready to flip. If they’re golden brown, flip them over.
Be sure to cook the chicken in batches. It is important to not overcrowd the pan because the more you put in the pan, the lower the temperature drops. In order to get brown in color, the chicken needs room so it doesn’t simply steam. Reserve the cooked chicken on a clean plate.
When all of the chicken is browned, toss the remaining flour from the plate into the pan. Whisk it into the pan drippings. If you still have a large amount of oil in the pan, drain some of it before you add the flour. You only want about one to two tablespoons of oil to remain in the pan.
Add two cups of chicken stock and whisk.
Once the sauce is reduced and slightly thicker, add the cooked chicken back into the pan.
Let the chicken cook in the sauce for another minute or two to get all of the flavors to meld.
Lemon Thyme Chicken
1 package chicken breast cutlets (or 4 chicken breasts halved)
1 1/2 cup flour
2 cups chicken stock
2 tbs dried thyme
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbs honey
1/3 cup oil, vegetable or canola
salt and pepper
If you have full chicken breasts, simply slice them through the center as if you were making a sandwich out of the two halves.
Salt and pepper both sides of the cutlets. Fill a dish with the flour and add a generous amount of salt and pepper along with 1 tablespoon of dried thyme. Mix the flour so that all of the seasoning is distributed evenly. Place each chicken cutlet into the flour (dredge) and coat both sides.
When you are done coating the chicken with flour, coat the bottom of a saute pan with oil and put over medium-high heat.
While the pan is heating, zest two lemons. Once the lemons are zested, juice one of the lemons. Set the lemon zest and juice aside.
When the oil is hot enough, it’s time to saute. Cook the chicken in batches, adding three to four pieces of chicken at a time. Let the chicken cook for a few minutes and then lift up an edge of the cutlets to see if they are ready to flip. When they are golden brown, flip the chicken over.
When all of the chicken is browned, toss the remaining flour left from the plate into the pan. Whisk it into the pan drippings. If you still have a large amount of oil in the pan, drain some of it before you add the flour. You want about one to two tablespoons of oil to remain in the pan.
Add chicken stock and whisk. Add your reserved lemon juice. Add dijon mustard, the remaining dried thyme, red pepper flakes (you can add more or less depending on how much spice you like) and honey.
Whisk to combine and lower the heat. Let the sauce simmer and reduce. When the sauce is reduced and slightly thicker, add the cooked chicken back into the pan. Let the chicken cook in the sauce for another minute or two to get all of the flavors to meld.
Add a couple of pats of butter to finish the sauce.