One of the reasons I love reading cookbooks and watching cooking shows is for inspiration. I’m continually amazed at the creativity I see and it’s an opportunity to learn something new. I recently saw an episode of Rachel Khoo’s Little Paris Kitchen where she made a roast chicken with dried lavender and was I intrigued by the use of lavender in cooking.
In Provence lavender is a staple of the kitchen spice rack and it seems like the bakers on the Great British Bake-Off are constantly infusing things with it, but I was having trouble wrapping my head around an ingredient I associate with linen closets. So, I decided to give it a shot and take a little culinary adventure to southern France with Rachel’s recipe as my guide.
Lavender has a strong herbal flavor that when combined with lemon zest and thyme reminded me of rosemary - a little astringent, a hint piney, but not at all reminiscent of a sachet, unless that sachet is full of herbs de Provence. Since it is powerful, a little goes a long way and I particularly liked it with the balancing sweetness of the wildflower honey, which also has a delicate floral note.
This recipe is so simple and takes just a few minutes to assemble, but the unique flavor elements make it feel special all the same. Perfect with some pureed potatoes or sautéed asparagus.
Provençal Lavender and Lemon Chicken (serves 4)
2 tablespoons dried culinary lavender buds
2 lemons, zest and juice
3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup wildflower honey
4 pieces of bone-in, skin-on chicken, either breast or leg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Place the lavender in a large ziptop bag and lightly crush using a rolling pin. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the olive oil, honey, thyme leaves, lemon zest and juice. Pour into the zip top bag with the lavender then add the chicken pieces. Seal the bag pressing out the air and turn a few times to coat all sides of the chicken. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes (or up to 4 hours).
Preheat oven to 400°F. Put chicken and marinade into roasting pan with the skin side down and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast chicken for 45 minutes, turning pieces over halfway.
Cook until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F or when thickest part is pierced with a skewer and the juices run clear (not red or pink). Serve the chicken with cooking juices spooned over the top.
Rewritten and slightly adapted from Rachel Khoo’s Poulet au Citron et Lavande via PopSugar.
Small Kitchen Friendly?
Absolutely. All I needed for this recipe was a gallon sized zip top bag, a small cuutin board, chef’s knife, microplane zester, liquid measuring cup, measuring spoons and a medium baking dish (2 qt.)
I really didn’t know what to expect since I’ve never made a Rachel Khoo recipe before – that requires trust! – but I have to give credit where credit is due, this is really, really good. The lavender is subtle and in combination with the lemon and thyme it brings a beautifully summery flavor to the chicken, like the toasted warmth of a golden hay field in August and so simple to put together at a moment’s notice. Just the thing now that freezing temperatures have taken hold in New York and we need a taste of summer to see us through.