The first perennial herb to show their grass like stems in the garden are chives, and its such a useful herb to have to hand in the kitchen. Following on from chives the next herb to start to show growth is my all time favourite Levisticum Officinale, commonly known as lovage. Lovage grows quickly and will grow quite tall if it gets the chance, up to 6ft if not cut, although it doesn’t get the opportunity to do that in our garden as it gets constantly harvested for use in omelettes, tarts, salads, soups, stocks, roasts and in this case a delicious spring braised chicken recipe using lemons, potatoes, red onion, garlic and yes you guessed it, more herbs! Rosemary and golden oregano too.
Lovage does have a strong flavour, reminiscent of celery but far more distinctive so use sparingly or it can be overpowering.
It hard to imagine what cooking would be like without the unique flavours provided by herbs so its well worth growing your own as most herbs are at their best when they are young and freshly picked. As yet I have not come across lovage or golden oregano/marjoram being sold in local farm shops or super markets so these two unusual and aromatic herbs are well worth growing at home in the garden or in pots. Golden oregano/marjoram is mildly aromatic and absolutely delicious in dishes containing tomatoes. Add it to homemade tomato sauces for pasta, pizzas, bolognese and moussaka.
The flowers and herbs are planted together in our garden, giving brilliant shades of green mixed with vibrant colours and varying forms of loveliness and flavour!
Lovage can be grown easily and enjoys a sunny spot but it likes the soil to be moist, so plant around it thus helping to keep the soil shaded around its base. Lovage plants can be found in some garden centres or track down a local specialist herb grower. Or if you have a friend who has some growing in their garden grab a bit of the root (propagate by division) when the leaves are just beginning to show. If growing from seed make sure to use lovage seeds that have recently ripened as they quickly lose their ability to germinate.
This spring recipe was inspired mainly by the different variety of herbs shooting up in the garden and the early spring sunshine we have enjoyed recently reminded of the food of Greece and Turkey; eating simple yet delicious leisurely meals served on rustic tables under ageing olive trees and grape vines…. different things spark up my food memories, conjuring up colours, sounds, aromas and the strongest of all for me being taste.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 8 chicken thighs - skin on
- 1 lemon thinly sliced and juice of 2 lemons
- 16 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 2 red onions, peeled, sliced (about 140g)
- 3 potatoes, cut into wedges (about 300g)
- 2 sprigs of lovage (about 40g)
- Golden oregano/marjoram leaves (about 10g)
- 1 large sprig of rosemary, snapped into three pieces
- 1tsp runny honey
- 100ml fresh apple juice
- flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200℃ / Gas mark 6
- Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan, place the chicken thighs in the pan skin side down and fry for about 5 minutes until golden brown.
- Put the chicken thighs into a large shallow casserole dish or high sided baking tray and add the remaining ingredients ( except the honey and apple juice ) and stir well to combine, pushing the herbs to the bottom.
- Put into the oven on the middle shelf and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven add the honey and apple juice, salt and pepper.Stir, pull the potatoes up to the top of the dish and put back into the oven on the top shelf for a further 15 minutes or until the potatoes are browned on the edges.
Slices of citrus sunshine on the chopping board.
Red skinned potatoes work well in this dish and the variety I had to hand was Mozart, a new red variety with distinguishing yellow eyes, yellow flesh and good flavour. Its ideal for mashing, boiling and roasting so makes for a good versatile potato to have in the kitchen.
You can play around with the herb mixtures in this dish, just use whatever you fancy, have handy or growing in the garden. Bay leaves, thyme, tarragon are all good replacements.
This simple and delicious lemony one pot chicken dish is a meal in itself so all you need to serve up alongside is a simple mix of salad leaves.
Thank you for dropping by the blog today…. Happy spring, growing, cooking and eating