Monday, November 23, 2015

Limoncello Thyme Chicken

In my previous post I mentioned a tour we took of Letterpress Distilling and the great limoncello that they make by hand. They challenged us to create a recipe using their limoncello. Their favorites will be served at their 3rd anniversary party. I thought I'd do a play on lemon thyme and use Limoncello for both the marinade and the sauce for the plated chicken. I thought it turned out very well. If you can't find a good limoncello you can substitute vodka and lemon juice. I used chicken breasts for this recipe but you may use thighs which are more forgiving if overcooked. I served it over a bed of eggplant and onions stir fry mixed with quinoa.

Limoncello Thyme Chicken

Limoncello Thyme Chicken Recipe

Serving size: 2
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes

INGREDIENTS
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
1 tbsp coconut oil or other cooking oil
1 tsp thyme leaves for garnish

Marinade:
2 tbsp limoncello (or 1 tbsp vodka + 1 tbsp lemon juice)
2 tsp fresh chopped thyme leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey

Sauce:
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp butter
salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
  1. Add marinade ingredients to a small bowl and whisk until well combined. 
  2. Add marinade and chicken to a ziplock bag and massage bag until chicken is well coated with marinade and put in fridge for 1 hour
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  4. Add cooking oil to a skillet and set to medium high heat. 
  5. When pan is hot, add chicken, and set aside the marinade. Cook chicken on each side for approximately 5 minutes or until well browned.
  6. Place chicken on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and into preheated oven. Check temperature of chicken every 5 minutes until chicken reaches 165 degrees, approximately 10-15 minutes.
  7. While chicken is in the oven, add corn starch to chicken stock in a small bowl and stir until combined. 
  8. Deglaze the skillet with the left over marinade and simmer at medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add lemon juice and chicken stock/corn starch mixture and stir frequently until chicken is done.
  9. When chicken is done, remove from oven and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm until ready to serve. 
  10. Add butter to sauce and stir until melted. Add salt and pepper to taste. 
  11. If using thighs you can add chicken to the sauce pan and serve when ready or plate the chicken with sauce over the top. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves.
Chicken Breast Browned

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Letterpress Distilling

Letterpress VodkaWe had the opportunity to take a tour of Letterpress Distilling with some fellow food bloggers in the Seattle area. They are a relatively small operation in South Seattle with a big enough space that allows them room to grow and I'm sure they will.

The owner, Skip Tognetti, treated us to some local cheeses, cured meats from Salumi and two cocktails to go with them. The first cocktail was a twist on Bee's Knees called La Vespa, made with their vodka, lemon juice and Captive Spirits Big Gin. I'm not a huge gin fan but mixed with vodka and lemon juice, it made for a tasty cocktail. The other cocktail, served hot, was the Letterpress Toddy made with their limoncello. Both recipes can be found on the Letterpress Cocktail Recipe page.

Letterpress Toddy La Vespa

We later got to taste the limoncello and vodka by themselves. A lot of the vodkas I've tried don't have a lot of flavor but this one is very complex with some anise and vanilla notes. I was really impressed. The lemoncellos I've tried before have always been really sweet and I wasn't very impressed by them. The Letterpress limoncello however is not like the others. You can tell just by looking at a bottle next to other brands that it's different. Not only do they not use artificial ingredients but they use local blackberry honey as a sweetener rather than sugar or corn syrup that most other brands use.
Vodka Tasting

Letterpress is truly a hand crafted, grain to glass company and sources nearly all of their ingredients locally with the exception of the lemons for their limoncello which come from California. They use no artificial flavorings or colors like the majority of limoncellos on the market do. Much of their process is very manual and little to no automation. They zest each lemon by hand using a lemon zester and stir the jugs of lemon zest infusion by hand daily until it's ready. They are also continuously testing the alcohol content as it comes out of the distiller.
Lemon Zest InfusionMeasuring Alcohol Content

One of the processes they use that I found interesting is how they separate out the proteins from the limoncello so that when people put it in the freezer, they won't get a separation and that's exactly what they do to separate it out. It goes into a freezer to allow the proteins to separate and they are removed. The process is done a few times to remove as much of the proteins as possible. They are currently looking for creative ways to use the discarded proteins. Raina, from makemendgrow.com, was lucky to take a bottle of the proteins home with her and plans to make some soap with it. I can't wait to hear how it comes out. I might have to try and get some for soap making too.

We all got to take home a small bottle of the limoncello, a couple of limoncello shortbread cookies and we bought a bottle of the vodka which comes with a batch and bottle number on the label. They have a blood orange liquor coming out in a few months that I'm hoping to get my hands on a bottle. It's a seasonal product with limited quantities and I hear it's really good.