Back when my sister was still planning her wedding, the venue at which the reception was at had a fully functioning kitchen/staff that would cater a sit down dinner as apart of the fee for renting out the space, if desired. Rather than bring in an outside caterer, she decided to go with this option. Just about three months before the wedding, the venue’s chef and staff would hold what were called collective “tastings” where they would cook samples of just about everything that was on their menu for the couples who had booked rooms in advance to come and taste so that they could pick which one(s) they wanted to serve at their reception.
Fortunately, my sister was allowed to bring guests with her to the tasting; so she ended up bringing me, my mom, my aunt and my niece with her.
Hey, it was free food. You guys KNEW I was gonna tag along for that. I thought that it was just going to be one or two pieces of meat that they plunked down on a few saucers that we had to share and nibble on.
Yeah, no. What is actually was, was a full on buffet of not only every main dish, but every side dish that the venue had on their menu. We could eat as much of it as we wanted (you know, for quality control purposes) and the chef was even on site for any questions that the brides/grooms had about the preparation of the food in general. And they had just about everything: several chicken, beef, fish AND pasta dishes. Several vegetables sides. They even put out some of the appetizers. Every person that attended got a small little card with a list of the food names, and a scale of 1-10 that the couples and their guests could rate them on for our favorite to least favorite that I assume the bride/groom could use later to pick which dishes they wanted to serve at their reception.
I’d never been to a real wedding reception tasting before, and I was VERY impressed with not only the service of the staff, but the overall experience in general. We were STUFFED by the time we left and I’m pleased to say it was due to mostly excellent food.
For her two entree choies, my sister ended up picking a delicious flank steak dish, and a stuffed chicken one that reminded me of something you’d serve on Thanksgiving. However, the stuffed chicken wasn’t her favorite preparation of it that we sampled that day and it wasn’t mine either. We were blown away by this Dijon mustard chicken dish that even to this day, I STILL find myself thinking about and kinda salivating over. The balance of tanginess from the mustard and the sweetness of the honey was so just well executed and the chicken (a breast at that) was still so moist and flavorful.
My mom (rightly so) advised my sister that since not everyone likes the flavor of mustard it might be better to pick a more ‘generic’ chicken dish that was still delicious, which is the reason why she went with the stuffed chicken.
Even so, ever since that wedding reception tasting back in July I have been trying my darndest to try and make a chicken dish that is even as remotely delicious as the Dijon mustard one we tried that day. I’ll be perfectly honest: this one isn’t quite it.
But! It IS still delicious, quick and ridiculously simple to pull off.
Lemme just first talk about this sauce: after making the first batch to pour over the chicken while it’s baking, I tasted it and immediately got to work making a second one just to have for extra dipping later. It’s that good. The combination of citrus from the orange juice and zest and the dijon mustard is a truly perfect combination; not too sweet, while also not too sharp or tangy either. It also makes one kick-ass sandwich spread, AND a pretty good salad dressing.
I covered my chicken with foil while baking this and it came out SOOOOO moist. Even I can’t usually make my chicken breast bake up that moist and tender, but by Golly, this time I nailed it. I was one happy camper that night for dinner let me tell you. So I think it goes without saying that I’m placing my heavy rubber stamp of approval on this recipe for you guys to try for an easy weeknight dinner. Have at it, will ya?
Orange Honey Mustard Baked Chicken Breasts
- 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest (from about 2 oranges)
- 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 6 oranges)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion or shallot
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick), cut into 4 pieces and at room temperature
Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
Season the chicken with 2 teaspoons of the salt and all of the pepper; set aside.
Place the orange zest, juice, onion or shallot, honey, and remaining teaspoon of salt in a large oven-safe frying pan, whisk to combine, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until reduced by almost half, about 3 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the Dijon and whole-grain mustards.
Add the reserved chicken, spoon some of the sauce over each breast, and bake until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes.
Remove the chicken to a serving platter and tent with foil. Whisk the butter into the sauce 1 piece at a time, letting each piece melt before adding the next. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.