Pan Roasted Breast of Chicken with lemon balm and a rich brown stock


It’s spring and many edible native Indiana herbs and weeds are starting to come up, among them, lemon balm and dandelion greens.  As cooks, spring also gears us towards transitioning from oven and crock pot meals to stove top, grill and cold-prepared menus.  What better way to celebrate spring with a dish that can be made on top of the stove with fresh ingredients you can pick for yourself for free!

Lemon balm is a calming herb and just like lemon, it goes very well with chicken, giving it a slight kick with its tart lemony flavor.  If you have ever planted lemon balm, you know that once its starts, its like mint – it begins to take over the herb garden if not kept in line.   In fact, it is part of the mint family.  Picked up by the wind, it can start to pop up all over a yard.   Its easy to harvest.  Just cut a few stems and pinch the leaves off, making sure to run them under cool water to get any dirt and grit off before using.  Dandelion greens are equally abundant, and the fresh young green leaves are best used in the spring.  These leaves need a good rinsing several times to get any grit off of them and you’ll need to pick quite a few as they cook down quite a bit.  2 cups of leaves will only yield a 1/4 cup cooked.

Today we are going to combine lemon balm  with the juice of half a lemon, a little Riesling from Indiana’s own  Oliver Winery and some cooking techniques normally used to get a nice brown sauce with beef for our roast chicken.  When we’re done, you’ll have such a moist, melt in your mouth piece of chicken you’ll want to make this recipe again and again.


1 large breast of chicken (If you don’t already, try getting your chicken breast from the butcher case rather than pre-packaged). Miller is a good local brand sold in many Indiana markets.  But if you’re lucky enough to live in a small town, you may get some local chicken at your local market meat case. Make sure and ask.

1/2 fresh lemon

4 stems of lemon balm, well-rinsed and leaves pinched off the stems.

1 16oz can chicken stock or home-prepared stock

butter, 2 TBSPs

salt and pepper

1/4 cup Oliver Riesling


You’ll want to use a standard fryer pan for this dish not a skillet.  The reason being that we are going to sear the meat to lock in the juices and then use the depth of the pan to “roast” the chicken like a dutch oven on the stove top.  Rinse and pat dry the breast of chicken while your pan is beginning to heat.  Make sure its not too hot as you don’t want the butter to burn but to help carmelize the chicken skin.

Add the butter and melt to cover pan.  Add the chicken and sear it on all sides.  You don’t want to let the chicken or butter burn but make sure you get a nice brown on both the skin and with the butter.   As the meat is searing, salt and pepper it to taste on all sides and then squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the top.

Once the sides are browned,  add both the chicken stock and the wine to the pan and lay the lemon balm leaves over the top of the chicken breast.  Place a lid on the pan and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes on low or until the meat is very tender.

Remove the chicken breast to a plate and then pour some of the brown stock over the top.  Add a nice sprig of lemon balm for color.

In a separate saute pan, quickly saute your dandelion greens with a little olive oil and a nice sweet balsamic vinegar.  Add some salt and pepper to taste and you’ve got a wonderful side dish for your chicken full of anti-oxidants and cleansing properties!  Just like a spring tonic!

Serve hot with a nice glass of Oliver Riesling wine and warm bread.

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