Gratuitous Blood Orange Picture
Tis the season for wonderful citrus. My whole family has been, as my friend Shani would put it, on a serious Clementine bender. We just can’t seem to get enough of those sweet little orange bundles of yum. I’ve been falling deeper and deeper into my obsession for pink grapefuit, and just yesterday I snagged a hoard of gorgeous, jewel-like blood oranges at my favorite produce store. Then there are the bags (bags!) of meyer lemons that my mom has been bringing by from her prolific front yard harvest (along with the occasional lemon meringue pie — keep ’em coming, mom!). I think my whole family is in heaven right now.
The sight of a pile of juicy meyer lemons in my refrigerator jogged my memory about a recipe that I haven’t made since my husband and I were dating. “Chicken with Roasted Lemon & Rosemary Sauce” from Michael Chiarello’s Tra Vigne Cookbook: Seasons in the California Wine Country. I can vividly recall the night we cooked this in his minimally equipped, bachelor kitchen by the light of a fluorescent bulb. I believe we also made our own pasta that night, and drank copious amounts of wine — we were probably listening to Green Day. Isn’t it amazing how a certain recipe or taste can bring you right back to such a specific time and place? Roasted meyer lemons = hubby’s bachelor apartment; steamed fish and wintermelon soup = my childhood kitchen table, Hungarian goulash = my first collage apartment.
So with fond memories of our breezy single days, we uncorked some wine and enjoyed this easy, delicious dish all over again — this time around our family table. I’m not quite sure why we waited so long to reprise this one, but I’m glad we did.
Chicken with Roasted Meyer Lemon, Rosemary and Garlic
(adapted from “The Tra Vigne Cookbook: Seasons in the California Wine Country“, by Michael Chiarello)
- 2 Bone-In, Skin-On Split Chicken Breasts
- 3 Meyer Lemons (or substitute regular lemons as in the original recipe), cut in half, drizzled in olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and broiled for 5-7 minutes until tops are very lightly charred
- 3 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
- 1 Sprig of Fresh Rosemary, Leaves Finely Minced
- 2 Cups Chicken Broth
- Several Sprigs of Parsley, Leaves Finely Minced
- ** 10-12 Small New Potatoes, Steamed Until Tender and Sliced in Half ** (optional)
- Heat oven to 450 degrees. Put the broth in a pan on a back burner to let it reduce while you start cooking everything else.
- Season chicken with salt an pepper. Heat an oven-safe skillet on the stove and add 1 Tbl of olive oil. Sear chicken in the hot skillet until golden brown on all sides. [At this point, the original recipe calls for you to remove the chicken, crisp the steamed potatoes in the pan, then return the chicken skin side up back to the pan on top of the potatoes].
- Baste the chicken with a little of the pan juices and turn the pieces are skin side up. Then move the skillet into the oven until chicken is cooked through. A thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken should reach 165 degrees. Remove chicken to a platter and cover it loosely with foil to keep it warm while you finish the sauce. (Keep a pot holder over the skillet handle so you don’t accidentally grab it while it is still hot. I speak from experience here!)
- Pour off most of the fat from the pan then add the garlic and minced rosemary and saute until the garlic is lightly golden, about 2-3 minutes. Be sure to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan and if they or the garlic start to get too dark, quickly add some broth and stir.
- Squeeze the roasted, cooled lemons into the pan through a fine mesh sieve. Add 3/4 cup of the warm, reduced broth (you should have some left over) and let the sauce simmer for several minutes to let it thicken to a saucy consistency. If you remember, add in the juices that have collected on the platter with the chicken as well. Taste and season with salt and pepper. You can add additional chicken broth to balance the flavor if needed (or a little hot water).
- When the sauce is to your liking, drizzle it over the chicken and sprinkle with minced parsley.
You might also like these citrus-y posts: Pink Grapefruit Granita; Sweet Lemon Thyme Crisps; Bar Jules Lamb with Preserved Lemons; Pickling Project: Preserved Lemons; Keeping Lemons Fresh and Other Tasty Tidbits
Growing up, my family fell into an informal tradition of soup night once a week. There would be a big pot of my dad’s soup going on the stove and a spread of bread, cheese and cold cuts and usually a crisp green salad of some sort. I looked forward to these meals in my parent’s cozy kitchen almost more than any other. My dad is quite a good soup maker, he never uses a recipe and is able to coax out an impossible amount of flavor from the ingredients at hand. Watching him at the soup pot brings Mr. Miyagi to mind, so I guess that makes me the karate kid?
This soup is just about the perfect thing you can eat with a nice piece of crusty bread on a chilly December day (hey it actually dipped below 50 degrees here this week!). It’s savory with tomatoes and garlic, herb-y from the rosemary and has just a touch of chickpea sweetness. My little ones don’t favor terribly chunky soups, so these days I puree about third of the soup then return it to the pot, and might even mash some of the remaining whole chickpeas in their bowls. Give it a try, it’s one of our all time favorites.
Chickpea and Rosemary Soup
(adapted from the recipe in Marcella Hazan’s “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking”)
- 4 large garlic cloves, chopped finely
- leaves from two sprigs of rosemary, chopped finely
- 1 – 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
- 2 – 15 ounce cans chickpeas
- 1 quart chicken broth (you can use vegetable broth if you want to keep it vegetarian)
- Salt to taste
- small piece of Parmegiano Reggiano rind (optional)
- Saute garlic and rosemary, and a big pinch of salt. Cook until the garlic is softened and golden.
- Add the tomatoes (breaking them up a bit more with the back of a spoon). Stir well and simmer on low for 15-20 minutes
- Add the chickpeas, stir well and simmer 10 minutes
- Add broth and simmer for at least 15 minutes. For extra flavor, throw in a small piece of parmegiano reggiano rind.
- Remove the cheese rind and discard. Ladle about a third of the soup into a blender or food processor. (Beware of pureeing hot food because it can spray out, so let it cool before proceeding). Puree and return it to the pot, stirring well.
- Adjust the seasoning and enjoy with a piece of crusty french bread.
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There are some recipes that really get you salivating, like this beauty I found in the “Genius Recipes” section of the website Food 52 which comes courtesy of former Gourmet magazine Food Editor, Ian Knauer. Rosemary, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar reduced to a sweet-tangy, syrupy glaze is something I might be halfway tempted to drink all on its own if I thought I could get away with it, but chicken drumettes (or pork ribs as the original recipe calls for) are probably a more civilized vehicle. I don’t see why you couldn’t try using this glaze on vegetables, say a portobello mushroom or a thick slab of zucchini. I could see that being very tasty indeed. Needless to say I was a hero to my family for making this. Husband, preschooler and baby… they all loved it as much as I did.
Click here to check out the original recipe and browse some of Food 52’s other “Genius Recipes” (Brown Butter Tart Crust, Waffles of Insane Greatness or Le Bernadin’s Crispy Skinned Fish, anyone?) But before you click on over there, here are my notes for making this dish weeknight dinner-friendly. You could also use the same marinade-then-roast-then-broil technique and change the flavor profile (think chili, lime and honey), with inspiration from Simran’s “Icky Sticky Chicken Wings” recipe.
Sticky Balsamic Glazed Chicken Drumettes (based on a recipe for ribs from Ian Knauer)
In the morning, the day before: Marinate your drumettes.
- The marinade is pantry-friendly: equal parts minced rosemary, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar (Tablespoon of each ought to do it) and enough water to loosen things up a little. Salt and pepper, dash of cayenne if you like. I know Simran would spice this up with some dried chiles.
- Toss the drumettes well in the marinade, place in a baking dish, cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
Night before: Roast the drumettes and make the glaze.
- Ian Knauer uses a hot oven to roast the ribs (425 degrees). I roasted my drumettes at 425 for about 30-35 minutes, then removed them to a plate to cool.
- Deglaze the roasting pan with more balsamic, water and brown sugar (I used 2 parts vinegar, 2 parts water and 1 part sugar, for about 1 1/4 cups of liquid). Make sure to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the baking dish. I then transferred the glaze to a sauce pan to reduce and placed the cooled drumettes back into the roasting pan, covered them with foil and returned them to the refrigerator.
- Reducing the glaze until it’s the consistency of maple syrup is critical and it does take a while (maybe 20-25 minutes). It’s got to be thick enough to coat and stick to the chicken. Let the glaze bubble away, stirring occasionally until it has thickened. Pour it into a bowl or jar, cover and refrigerate it.
Dinner time: You can get this deliciousness on the table in hurry with minimum of fuss.
- Preheat your broiler, liberally brush the glaze on the chicken and broil for 5-8 minutes turning a few times and brushing on more glaze until the chicken is heated through and the glaze is caramelized.
I’m forever jotting things down, especially on vacation, and most especially when I’ve come across something tasty. A beachside lunch during a trip to Sardinia a few years back yielded this page in my notebook. A pinch of sea salt and rosemary would be good on a whole lot of things and now I may finally get around to putting some together for my pantry.
It’s also a fun mini project to do with someone small. Pick some rosemary (in our climate it grows everywhere!) & let it dry for a few days. Then let the little one break it up and mix with sea salt. Grab your funnel and scoop it all into a salt mill. Voila! I’ll probably also have my son help me draw a label and customize some cute little jars so that we can share with friends.
I know Luca will like helping with this one, and I will enjoy having this on hand when I roast meat or veg or to sprinkle on soup or pasta. While we’re at it we’ll probably make up some of Michael Chiarello’s divine Fennel Spice mix. It’s a must-have in our pantry and we’re nearly out. Do you have any favorite customized spice mixes? Let me know!