So its Autumn/Fall, whatever you like to call it. Myself, I call it pumpkin carving season, or pumpkin seed roasting season, or even better, that yummy smell you get from hundreds of candle lit pumpkins simmering in the night sky on Halloween night season! Ok, I'm getting a little carried away with the season bit. After all, this dish has nothing to do with pumpkins, other then I made it up a couple of days ago, the night I bought our first pumpkin of the year; Ah-ha! connection made.
But I digress, Autumn Lavender Chicken is a rendition of the ever popular Lavender Honey Chicken. The latter is a fine dish, but I find the honey is a little to cloy, it bullies the lavender. Same, surprisingly with the lemon, by the time the dish is done you have NeoCitran Chicken. My version relies on fresh lavender leaves, as they are in plenty of supply as opposed to the buds which are too overpowering and hard to find fresh come fall. Sweetness comes via a bit of brown sugar, it also helps to nicely caramelize the pan juices. A bit of acid is needed, but rather then rely on Lemon juice, Japanese rice wine vinegar steps in. Finally some finely chopped onion, simple salt and pepper with a pinch of dried thyme round out the dish. The weird, not so secret ingredient is vanilla, I know, weird right? It just works with the lavender, "trust me...."
Lastly, this dish comes together in minutes, let the marinade make out with your chicken for 10 minutes or so, it all it really needs, a quickie. Pop it in a hot oven and 40 minutes later your home is permeated with the scent of utter comfort food. Hero status attained.
Step 1: Ingredients
- 4-5 Large fresh boneless/skinless Chicken breasts, though bone in skin on is better.
- 2 sprigs of fresh lavender, about 4 inches long
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon or so of real vanilla
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 2 teaspoons of black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
- 1 Onion - finely diced
Step 2: Harvest
I have a planter of lavender that I couldn't bare to get rid of. Here you treat it as an annual, as its too cold to sustain as a perennial. The leaves, all though not as fragrant as the flower buds are more suitable for cooking, similar to fresh rosemary. Harvest a couple sprigs by cutting off two four inch pieces or so.
Step 3: Chop
- Remove the lavender leaves from the woody stem and lightly chop and bash them up a bit to release the flavour.
- Finely dice a medium onion and combine with all the other ingredients in a large Ziploc type bag.
Step 4: Marinate
I found 10 minutes was all you needed to marinate the dish, bashing up the lavender releases the flavour, while the large amount of salt, brine's the chicken and weeps moisture from the onions. Simple
Step 5: Roast
- Finally dump the chicken in a small roasting pan, just large enough to hold the chicken without touching.
- Slide it into a 425 degree oven for about 40 minutes, 45-50 minutes if you were lucky enough to have bone-in/skin on chicken....
- That's about it. Really this whole recipe could be slapped onto the back of a matchbook cover if I toned down my literary blabber.
Step 6: Nom NOM Nom Time
Serve it up with pan juices and you will look like a food god, so easy, so good!