One of my favorite restaurants is Mustards Grill, in the Napa Valley. Often referred to as a "truck stop deluxe," the food served there has a kind of homey sophistication. It's located on the main highway--and truckers do indeed stop there. The prices are reasonable, considering the high level of the food served to loyal patrons. I recently bought the Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook and found many of my favorite dishes in it, including their famous lemon-lime meringue pie. Yesterday I fixed a wonderful recipe from the book, Lemon-Garlic Chicken, which has heaps of different herbs rubbed onto the chicken and mixed into a vinaigrette drizzled over the chicken just before you serve it. So, that means it qualifies for Weekend Herb Blogging, which was created by Kalyn at Kalyn's Kitchen. This weekend it's on the road, so to speak, and is being hosted by the lovely Ilva at Lucullian Delights. Go to her site and see all the herb inspired recipes assembled there!
The Mustards cookbook sometimes tells you how they do it in the restaurant, but provides a simpler way to cook it at home. At the restaurant, they use boned, split chicken halves which are cooked with heavy bricks laid on top of the chicken as it bakes. I used bone in chicken parts, without the bricks--and the result was simply wonderful. The chicken cooks in a very hot oven, which produces a delicate, crispy skin. I baked two thighs with no skin and they weren't as good as the pieces baked with the skin left on. I did find one problem in that my vinaigrette was much too thick, even though I made it exactly according to the recipe. I wound up adding a lot more olive oil, vinegar, and even some water, to get it thin enough to be drizzled over the meat. The vinaigrette is very good and would work on fish or grilled vegetables. I made half the recipe, but next time I'll make the full amount and keep the leftovers in the fridge.
Mustards Grill serves their lemon-garlic chicken on top of a pile of mashed potatoes, which would have been very nice. I served mine with pan roasted potato slices and pattypan squash. There were no complaints.
In a perfect world, I would have made Mustards Grill's famous lemon-lime pie, with brown sugar Italian meringue. But, I had to make do with memories of having it in a past visit to the restaurant.
Lemon-Garlic Chicken (Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook)
2 heads garlic
4 lemons, peeled, including all pith and membrane, and seeded
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar ( I was out of this so I used rice vinegar)
2 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs such as parsley, thyme, tarragon, basil, and savory
1/2 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or more if needed)
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano or marjoram
1/4 teaspoon fresh sage
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1-1/2 teaspoons cracked black peppercorns
1-1/2 teaspoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 pounds chicken parts
Preparing the vinaigrette
Pull the heads of garlic apart and peel cloves. Put the cloves and the lemon in a small saucepan with enough water to float them. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the garlic is very tender. Drain and puree in a blender or food processor. Measure out about 1/2 cup puree for the vinaigrette and set the rest aside for something else alter in the week.
Whisk together the 1/2 cup puree with vinegar, herbs salt and pepper until salt is dissolved. Slowly whisk in olive oil until fully emulsified. Note: I had to add extra oil and vinegar (and even a tablespoon of water) because my vinaigrette was much too thick.
Combine the rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, salt, pepper, shallots and garlic and mix well. Rub the mixture onto the chicken and allow it to marinate in the fridge for 6 to 12 hours.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat until hot. Add chicken parts skin side down and cook until nicely browned, then turn and sear the other side. The total browning time should take about 8 minutes in all. Place chicken in a roasting pan and bake in oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until the chicken juices run clear when pierced with a knife.
Note: I halved the recipe and made only 1-1/2 pounds of the chicken. It was so good, we wished I had made the entire amount, to have leftovers.