I’ve officially begun the end-of-the-year clean-up at our garden, which entails removal of all the unsightly “greenery” I let run wild (with much disapproval from the neighbors). Garden maintenance is a hard thing, and even though I enjoy my weekly therapy, I could hardly keep up this year with all the growing plants! As I cleared up a corner with my trimmer last week, I ran into a familiar fragrance. What was this delicious smelling bush I was chopping away? I recognized it instantly: rosemary. I had only seen rosemary in kitchen garden pots, small and trimmed…so I was surprised at the size of my own rosemary bush, wild & free!
I brought home a bagful with one thing in mind: rosemary chicken. Although I brought home enough for a number of recipes, I was surprised rosemary chicken was just about it…and after having prepared this deliciously herby & tasty grilled chicken, my husband confessed he’s not a fan of the herb, at all. So, my rosemary days are over, but my bush will remain to survive another winter, and perhaps join us for another cooking experiment next year. New recipes are more than welcomed!
Rosemary is woody & fragrant with evergreen, needle-like leaves; which makes it a great herb for seasoning, but not edible itself. It’s native to the Mediterranean, but is reasonably hardy in cool climates: a.k.a. Leipzig. A lovely myth has it that the Virgin Mary is said to have spread her blue cloak over a white-blossomed rosemary bush when she was resting, and the flowers turned blue. The shrub then became known as the “Rose of Mary”. It was also considered sacred to ancient Egyptians, Romans, & Greeks.
Upon cultivation, the leaves, twigs, and flowering apices are all extracted for use. It’s used as a decorative plant in gardens, where it can have really good pest control effects. The leaves are used to flavor foods (such as stuffings, roast lamb, chicken, and turkey) fresh or dry, and are big in Mediterranean cuisine with their characteristic aroma which complements many cooked foods. Aside from myth, rosemary plays a lovely role in history: in the Middle Ages it was associated with wedding ceremonies and it was also a symbol for remembrance during war commemorations and funerals in Europe & Australia; it’s also mentioned in the famous story of Don Quijote, where he mixes it in his recipe of the miraculous balm of Fierabras!
Along with lemon, rosemary gives this dish a unique & simple flavor. A big recipe with healthy and delicious results, pair it up with some grilled asparagus for a yummy dish!
For the Lemon Rosemary Chicken
- 4 boneless chicken breasts, butterflied
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of minced garlic
- 1/4 cup of dry white wine
- 3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon of grated lemon zest
- 6 twigs of fresh rosemary, or 2 teaspoons of dried rosemary
- Salt & ground black pepper to taste
- 1 lemon, sliced
Begin by butterflying the chicken breasts evenly and seasoning with salt & pepper. At this point you can choose to bake the chicken in the over, or grill it over the stovetop. I chose to grill it, for a quicker process! In an iron skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Cook the chicken breasts until golden on each side. Remove the chicken and set aside.
Add the minced garlic to the pan and sautée for a moment, being careful not to turn the garlic brown. Add the white wine, lemon juice, lemon zest, and rosemary. A great replacement for white wine is apple cider vinegar – and I use it for most of my recipes, since I don’t always have white wine in my fridge. Just use half the measurement the recipe calls for, and violá!
Add the chicken back to the pan and place the lemon slices on top. Set the heat to a low setting and simmer for about 20 minutes, or just before chicken breasts dry up. Serve the chicken with the lemon-wine juice in the pan and enjoy the healthy results!