Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Herbes de Provence Chicken (Freezer Friendly)

If there's a specialty food shop where I can easily go overboard, it's a spice shop... specifically, Chicago's Spice House. Stopping in for spices isn't just an 'in and out' visit. For me, I love to take my time and check out the various spice mixes, rubs and all other goodies they have available. On my last trip to the Spice House months ago, I picked up some Herbes de Provence, a mix of dried herbs including savory, fennel, basil, thyme and lavender flowers. I didn't have any recipe in mind to use this but figured it would be good to play with... which I certainly did with chicken! I used this French spice mix to make this Herbes de Provence Chicken for my special Baby Homecoming Dinner and it was fantastic!...

This is a great example of a make ahead meal and/or freezer meal. I see spice mixes as a way to flavor various meats with very little effort. All I did was combine extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, Herbes de Provence spice mix, salt, pepper and minced garlic in a bowl to create a marinade. The chicken is then tossed in the marinade and set aside at room temperature to absorb the flavors. You can freeze at this point and when you're ready to prepare, allow the seasoned chicken to defrost. Once defrosted you can cook the seasoned chicken on a grill, or bake/roast it in the oven until cooked through. This method of using spices is one I apply to many kinds of meats and spice mixtures. Feel free to try it with whatever spice mixes you have lurking in your cupboard along with your favorite cuts of chicken, pork, beef and even seafood!

I served this flavorful chicken with a Leek Risotto (recipe follows) and prosciutto wrapped asparagus.

Herbes de Provence Chicken
original Joelen recipe

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3-4 tablespoons Herbes de Provence spice mix
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste
1-2 pounds cut up chicken (thighs, drumsticks, etc)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk the olive oil, spice mix, lemon juice in a bowl to create a marinade.

Place chicken in a baking dish and pour the marinade over the chicken and toss to coat. Allow it to sit at room temperature for at least 10-15 minutes for flavors to absorb.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until juices are clear (time will vary depending on size of chicken cuts you use.)

* To make ahead/freezer meal
- Place chicken in a gallon sized freezer bag or ovenproof/disposable baking pan. Pour marinade into freezer bag or drizzle over chicken in baking pan. Toss to coat. Seal freezer bag while removing any excess air / cover ovenproof/disposable baking pan and freeze. When ready to prepare, remove from freezer to thaw. Cook on a grill or bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until juices are clear (time will vary depending on size of chicken cuts you use.)

Leek Risotto
recipe adapted from Recipezaar

6 cups chicken stock or chicken broth (48 fl oz)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups leeks, cleaned & chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups arborio rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, Asiago or Romano cheese (I used Romano)
salt and pepper to taste

Pour the stock or broth into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Keep liquid hot while cooking risotto.

In a large, heavy saucepan over low heat, heat oil. Add the leeks and minced garlic, saute about 5 minutes until fragrant.

Add the rice and stir until slightly toasted, about 1-2 minutes.

Add the wine and stir until absorbed, about 2 minutes.

Add one ladleful of the hot stock or broth, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is absorbed, about 2 minutes.

Continue adding the stock or broth, one ladleful at a time and stirring constantly, until the rice is just tender but slightly firm in the center and the mixture is creamy, 20-25 minutes longer.

Remove from heat and add the cheese; season with salt and pepper to taste.