Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Grilled Lemon Oregano Chicken Thighs

This recipe was based around a zested lemon and some open red wine. I used them as a marinade, but sliced half the lemon instead of using just the juice. I then added the slices to the grill, allowing them to caramelize and become sweet and chewy, while still retaining their acidity. The remaining half lemon was juiced to dress the salad.

This was served with a Greek orzo and spinach salad, which made enough for dinner the next night. You have to love summer food... make ahead salads and grilled meat. Simple and tasty!

Make the marinade by combining the following in a resealable plastic bag:

1/4 cup red wine
1/2 lemon, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of dried chili flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt


5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Close the bag, removing as much air as possible.

Place it into the fridge to marinade for 2 - 4 hours.

On the barbecue, or in a grill pan, cook the chicken, turning often and basting with the marinade.

Add the lemon slices from the marinade for the last 10 minutes of cooking, turning often, but allowing them to caramelize nicely.

Remove the chicken and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Leave the lemon slices on the heat if needed.

Add diced grape tomato, red pepper, cucumber, green onion and shredded fresh spinach to cooked and cooled orzo. Use the juice from the other lemon half and a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste to dress the salad. Crumble feta cheese on top.

Serve the hot chicken alongside the warm orzo salad. Garnish the plate with some of the grilled lemon slices.

  • As I am only cooking for two people right now, 5 chicken thighs was more than enough. Of course, you can multiply the recipe as many times as you wish.
  • You can also use the marinade for other meats such as chicken breasts; cubed chicken breast, beef or lamb for kebabs; pork tenderloin; leg of lamb; prawns.
  • Grilling the lemon slices allows the natural sugars to caramelize. It also softens the rind, turning it nice and chewy.
  • Using skin on chicken thighs will add a crunchiness to the meat as the skin will crisp up during cooking.
  • If you don't have whole lemons, use juice instead. Add 1 tablespoon to the marinade.
  • Limes, oranges or grapefruit can be substituted for the lemon.
  • For a recipe such as this I prefer to use dried oregano; it has a very different taste to fresh. The choice is completely yours to make. Other herbs can be used instead of, or as well as, oregano...rosemary, basil or tarragon.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Pork Chop Stuffed with Apple, Hazelnut and Blue Cheese

Back from vacation, not a lot to use up as I had to restock the pantry! I wanted to share this anyway, because I was very happy with the way it turned out.

I bought a couple of centre cut pork loin chops, and was immediately inspired to use the blue cheese and apples I had bought to stuff them. Add in some roasted broccolini, and a warm potato, sundried tomato and arugula salad, and this was a very enjoyable dinner.

The stuffing had so many contrasts....tangy, creamy blue cheese; soft, sweet apples; crunchy hazelnuts. It also helped to slow down the cooking of the pork, keeping the chops moist and tender.

To start the stuffing, in a bit of olive oil, cook:

1/4 cup minced onion

Season lightly with salt and pepper during cooking.

When the onion has started to soften, add:

1/2 apple, cored and finely diced

Continue to cook on a low heat until the apple starts to soften. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.


2 tablespoons roughly chopped, lightly toasted hazelnuts
2 tablespoons crumbled Blue cheese
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

Taste and adjust seasoning.

Using a sharp knife, cut a pocket in the side of each pork chop, as shown.

Lightly season both sides of the chops with salt and pepper.

Divide the stuffing between the two pork chops, pressing it gently but firmly into the pocket.

Turn the oven on to 375F.

Add a drizzle of olive oil to a really hot pan, and sear both sides of the pork chops.

Place the pan into the oven to finish cooking the meat.

When the pork is half cooked, place some blanched broccolini around the meat, seasoning the broccolini with salt and pepper.

Return to the oven until the meat is fully cooked.

Remove from the oven, and set the pork aside, lightly covered, to rest in a warm spot on the stove top. Toss the broccolini in the pan juices, checking it for tenderness and seasoning at the same time. If needed, turn the heat on and cook for another minute or two.

Serve the pork chop with the broccolini and potato salad, pouring any pan juices over the meat.

  • The pork chops you use for this do not have to be boneless, but they do have to be at least an inch thick in order to create and stuff a pocket in each chop.
  • The chops I used had quite a thick layer of fat around the side; I trimmed this a bit, leaving some on for flavour and moisture.
  • It is important to allow the cooked ingredients for the stuffing to cool completely before stuffing the pork. The stuffing can be made a day ahead, and kept refrigerated until needed. 
  • I left the skin on the apples...why waste the goodness it contains? I used a Gala apple.
  • Instead of apple, use pear, figs or peaches.
  • Use soft goat cheese or Brie instead of Blue cheese.
  • Other herbs and nuts in the stuffing can be used...herbs that work well with pork include sage, rosemary or savory...nut choices are almonds, pecans or pinenuts.
  • To blanch the broccolini, trim the ends off the stems, and cook in lightly salted boiling water for 2 minutes, drain. This can be done ahead of time, or just before adding it to the pan with the pork.
  • For the potato salad boil chunks of potato (approximately 1" cubes) until just tender, drain and cool slightly. Combine with chopped sundried tomatoes, halved grape tomatoes, minced fresh basil and arugula. Season with salt and pepper. Dress with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and grainy mustard.