Monday, April 22, 2013

Not just any Spring Chicken!

Spring has finally sprung in the Richmond, VA area, and it couldn't be any prettier around my neighborhood. Redbuds and phlox are blooming, azaleas and dogwoods are budding up. Every yard is showing off some jonquils and maybe a few tulips or early iris. All this flora makes me want to cook in a spring like fashion, even though we are not exactly spring chickens anymore!

Phlox out by my mailbox

This dish was a little more complicated than I sometimes attempt on a weeknight, but the smells and fresh tastes that it produced made it worth the extra trouble. Purchasing boneless, skinless thighs sped things along a little, and having rosemary on hand in the yard makes for easy inspiration. It grows so abundantly, I've just GOTTA' use it, right? If you haven't got rosemary growing in your garden, get some -- it's easy to grow and will even thrive in a container. The one that grows in my yard was transplanted here after living in a pot on the deck at my last house. I first put it in my little bed around the patio, but it outgrew that spot and currently resides over by the fence. It's now about 13 years old and spreading with abandon. It's even got little light purple flowers on it!

Rosemary by the fence

Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Spring Onions and Rice Pilaf
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
10 green/spring onions, ends trimmed, halved lengthwise
1/4 c. flour, seasoned with a little salt and pepper
2 T. + olive oil
4 sprigs rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, divided use
1/3 c. dry white wine
1/2 c. chicken stock
salt and pepper
Rice Pilaf (recipe follows)]
Zest the lemon so that you have about 1 T. of zest. Cut the lemon in half, and thinly slice it. Cut 2 of the slices in half, so that you have 4 small quarter pieces. Wash and dry your rosemary. Put the flour mixture into a pie plate or something similar for dredging. Lay one chicken thigh on the cutting board you use for meat (or a clean plate) and spread it open carefully. You can tell that there is a top to it and a bottom, where the bone was removed. Open the "bottom" and lay a sprig of rosemary and a quarter slice of lemon into the cavity. Close the "flap" back over this and carefully roll the thigh in the flour mixture. Set aside. Repeat this with the other 3 thighs. You can secure them with twine or an uncolored toothpick, but I found that the lemon and rosemary stayed inside when I made this without the trussing. (Plus I'm kind of lazy about things like that, especially on a weeknight!)

Get your pan ready on the stove -- you'll need an ovenproof skillet that all 4 thighs will fit into. Preheat the oven  to 350 degrees. Heat the pan a little. Pour 1 T. of the olive oil into the pan. Drop the halved onions into the olive oil and saute' quickly, until they just begin to wilt. Remove them from the pan and set them aside. Add the other T. of oil to the pan. Heat the pan until the oil begins to shimmer, and add the thighs to the skillet. You may need a little more oil. Cook them for about 5 minutes, so that the flour browns. Turn them over carefully -- I used a fork along with a small spatula - make sure that the lemon and rosemary remain in the cavity. Let the thighs cook for another 5 minutes to brown the other side. Remove the chicken to a plate and add the garlic, wine, and stock or broth to the pan. Add the 6 lemon halves to the liquid. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt and a little fresh ground black pepper. Cook for 5 -7  minutes over medium to high heat, reducing the sauce by about 1/2.

Sauce reducing in pan

Put the chicken back into the pan and place into the preheated oven. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes until the juices run clear when thighs are pierced with a fork. Taste the sauce and add a little salt and pepper if needed. Put the spring onions back into the sauce, garnish with a little more fresh lemon and serve over rice pilaf.
Chicken thighs ready for the oven

Rice Pilaf with Artichokes
2 c. chicken stock or broth
1 tsp. butter + 2 tsp. Olive oil
1/3 c. brown rice
1/2 c. white rice
1/3 c. orzo or broken vermicelli
2 T. minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 8 oz. pkg frozen artichokes, thawed and well drained
2 heaping T. Parmesan cheese
In deep saucepan, heat the oil and butter together until the butter melts. Add the garlic and olive oil and saute a few minutes until they begin to soften. Add the vermicelli or orzo and saute' this mixture until the pasta begins to brown, at least 10 minutes, over medium heat, stirring often. Add all the rice, stir into pasta mixture and then add the stock. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, bring this up to a boil, cover the pan and turn it down to a lower heat, so that the mixture just barely bubbles. When all the liquid is absorbed, add the artichokes and Parmesan cheese. Stir them into the pilaf and cover to warm the artichokes through, about 5 minutes. Serves 4 - 6. Good leftover, just heat in the microwave.
Lemon Rosemary Chicken Thighs with Rice Pilaf

1 comment:

Thistle Cove Farm said...

It looks very tasty and my rosemary lasted 2 years before expiring. I've tried it in several places in the yard...protected, unprotected, sun all day, partial sun...I think the cold weather kills it. Sad, I use rosemary a lot so will plant another plant and use it until it dies.