Hello from Norway! I arrived in the land of brown cheese (which actually isn’t cheese but the byproduct of making cheese–whey–boiled down and caramelized into a naturally sweet spread) and snow a week ago, and have so far been enjoying everything. Well, almost everything. I like to pride myself in my grocery shopping skills, but the first day here I mistakingly bought cured and salted salmon instead of natural salmon. I’ve only made two inedible things in my life, and this was one of them.
Thankfully I’m living with some go-with-the-flow people, and we just whipped up some scrambled eggs to have with the caramelized mushrooms and rice. But given the disaster of the salty salmon, I wanted to really impress my next night cooking. I also wanted to make sure I felt 100% confident in my grocery store purchase. So I went with boneless, skinless chicken breast, and thought of ways to save it from the usually dry, tasteless result.
The chicken spent an afternoon in a mustard-balsamic marinade, and then went into a hot cast iron pan sizzling with butter. I flipped the chicken after it got nice and brown, then popped it into the oven along with the leftover marinade. This extra liquid ensured the chicken stayed moist, and the initial searing gave the chicken a nice exterior crunch and brown. With that in the oven the stove top was free for mashed sweet potatoes (most European kitchens are a little smaller than what I’m used to working with). The meal came together quickly, and according to my teammates more than made up for #salmongate.
Cast Iron Chicken Breast
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1.5-2 pounds total)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (good quality is worth it here)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1-2 tablespoons dried fennel seed
salt and pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1. At least six hours before you want to start cooking and up to overnight, combine the marinade ingredients (everything but the chicken and butter) in a bowl and mix well. Add the chicken. Massage some of the marinade into the chicken, then cover and refrigerate.
2. 30 minutes before cooking take the chicken out of the refrigerator to bring to room temperature. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
3. Set a cast iron pan (or any oven proof pan) over high heat and melt butter. Once the butter starts to foam, add chicken breasts. Let cook until browned (about 3 minutes), then flip. Pour marinade over the chicken, then put in oven. Mine were done around 20 minutes, but if small start checking around 15 minutes. Larger breasts could take up to 30 minutes, but cook until internal temperature reaches 160-165 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Cover with foil and let sit for five minutes. Enjoy!