In a recent post, Seth recommended coconut lavender sauce; as chance would have it, Andres and I had lunch this afternoon in a new plaza here on Sepúlveda that has an enormous flowerbed full of lavender and rosemary plants! Of course, this is the Mediterranean. I have often found rosemary, lavender and thyme when walking around Montserrat or when hiking in Garraf Nature Park just outside Sitges. Occasionally I am lucky enough to find rosemary up on Collserola. But here in the city! I snagged a handful or so of fresh lavender and am now looking for a good recipe. Luckily, most Catalans wouldn't know a fresh herb if it jumped up and bit them on the lip, so my new secret stash is safe. And just in time for autumn. I love fresh rosemary in fall.
So I poached chicken in my own lavender rub for Saturday night's dinner. Our oven is on the fritz. And we have no grill. Still, I did as Seth suggested and brined the chicken, which I had never done before. It was fun. In a large frying pan, I browned the chicken breasts on both sides before slopping the lavender rub on the rounded top of each one. I then filled the pan with white wine, submerging the breasts halfway. I added a sprig or two of lavender to the wine, covered the pan and poached the chicken. When the breasts were cooked through, I brunt off most of the wine. What liquid was left was impregnated with the flavor of the lavender and so drizzled over the breasts before serving.
They were accompanied by sautéed zucchini and cherry tomatoes tossed with lemon, olive oil, fresh black pepper and feta cheese (!) on a bed of couscous.
The meal was a huge hit. Lavender chicken!?!? So was the dessert: homemade brownies (super-fudgey thanks to the fritzing oven) with slices of mango and vanilla ice cream.
To start we had peach salsa with corn tortillas. As it was an end-of-summer do, I drank a lovely Raimat Chardonnay. Everyone else drank red. They give in too easily to fall.
Poached Chicken with Lavender
1/4 cup sea salt
4 cups cold water water
4 large skinless boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup fresh chopped lavender
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons for browning
2 tablespoon French mustard
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 cup white wine
a few sprigs fresh lavender
Combine salt and water in a medium bowl. Dissolve. Submerge chicken breasts in salt-water solution and brine for 45 minutes. Rinse chicken, pat dry, and set aside.
Combine lavender, olive oil, French mustard, and black pepper in a small bowl.
Warm olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Cook breasts until browned, 2-3 minutes per side. Slather the top half of the breasts with lavender mixture.
Add wine to submerge the breasts halfway. Add lavender sprigs, cover pan, and poach chicken until cooked through, 8-10 minutes.
Remove the breasts to a platter, raise heat to high and simmer until all but 1/4 cup wine is dissolved. Remove lavender sprigs and drizzle reduced wine over breasts. Serve.