dinner to impress: thyme baked chicken

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May 28, 2012
This picture doesn’t really do the meal justice as the chicken is almost completely covered by mushrooms and onions (oversight on my part). 
Since I have all this ‘free time’ my mother has named me the official house chef (much to my brother’s dismay – he’s more into sauces and cheese and Italian bacon), which is code for ‘you stay home all day, so the least you could do is make dinner.’

This this mea comes from Chef Michael Smith in his cookbook ‘Chef Michael Smith’s Kitchen’ – but you can also find the recipe here. I’ve neglected writing some of the step – as this recipe has already been published. 


For the chicken
– 4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
– 2 tablespoons of olive oil
– 1 tablespoon of dried thyme
– A sprinkle or two of salt and lots of freshly ground pepper (*Personally, I eased off on too much pepper, because pepper doesn’t really enhance the flavours, instead it acts as a mask. The chefs at my culinary school had mentioned that many kitchens ban pepper because it can ruin the flavours of a dish!)

For the Red Wine Sauce
– 2 tbsp of butter
– 8 oz of thinly sliced mushrooms (
*I used about 8 white mushrooms)
– 1 onion, chopped (*I used a small/medium sized onion, and a shallot)
– 2 garlic cloves, minced
– 1 cup of chicken broth
– 1/2 cup of dry red wine
– 1 tbsp of water
– 1 tsp of cornstarch (*I added a little more, because I found that it doesn’t thicken that much)
– 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (*In my cooking class I learned that if you were to save a portion for the next day, to either add the parsley the same day you cook it, or you can add it to the dish, but don’t chop it)

Testing out my knife skills, and cutting all those mushrooms. They seem like a lot – but get smaller once they’re cooked down. 

Usually I use my garlic press, but it hurts my hand – so I minced it. Next time, I’m going to use my microplane zester (which I have a love/hate relationship with). 

I sliced, chopped, and minced all the vegetables while I heated the oven at 450F. 

While the oven continued to heat up, I dressed the chicken (as evenly as I could). 

Once the chicken was baking in the oven, I began to brown and caramelize the vegetables  in the butter (you can also use olive oil) – this took about 15 minutes on medium heat (I didn’t want anything to burn, especially the garlic)

Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of the vegetable mixture with the wine and chicken broth, but I did have a slight modification. I personally found that the sauce lacked flavour, so I added a few pinches of salt. During my culinary class, the chefs suggested that we add pinches of salt, stir, and then taste – eventually the salt will greatly enhance the flavour (but not taste salty).  

I’ve made this dish twice now, and found that these changes enhanced the dish. 

Do you have any good chicken recipes?

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