Roast Chicken With Chamomile & Oregano

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Have you ever had chamomile tea? Long used by Greeks (Dioscorides) used to prescribe it during Roman times and today most are familiar with it as a tea to fight colds. It’s sold in tea bags or loose at bulk stores and better tea shops and most of it can be found at an affordable price.

I’ve always loved the aroma of chamomile, reminiscent and apple and flowers and if you buy the good stuff, the aroma alone can calm your nerves. I’ve recently found it is also good for cooking uses and today I am trying it out as part of  rub with roast chicken.

I took dried leaves and flowers of chamomile and rubbed them in my hands and into a bowl along with dried Greek oregano, garlic, paprika, lemon zest. The rub is complex, you can smell the chamomile, garlic, lemon and a hint of oregano. To smell the rub in a whole is inviting. To smell the chicken roasting in the oven is promising and to taste the chicken rubbed with chamomile confirms my instinct – its delicious!

This evening I wasn’t in the mood for a sauce or gravy as I didn’t want to mask the flavour of this crisp, aromatic skin but I also didn’t want to throw away the drippings. Mashed potatoes are ideal for roast chicken and instead of using butter and milk (or cream for the mashed potatoes I used the drippings in the roasting pan.

When the chicken is done I remove it from the pan, deglaze the drippings with hot water then pour into a cup. After a couple of minutes the fat rises and I skim it with a spoon and use the rest – full of flavour. Butter and milk are skipped here and in its place is flavour chicken drippings that give your mashed potatoes a fabulous flavour with hints of chicken and herbs. For that extra oomph and texture in your mash, mix in some crispy fried onions. We all need more comfort food in our lives, don’t we?

Roast Chicken With Camomile & Oregano (Κοτοπουλο με Χαμομήλι & Ριγανη)

(serves 4)

1 whole chicken, approx. 2lbs.

for the rub

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 tsp. fine sea salt

3/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

1 clove of garlic, minced

zest of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp. of hand-rubbed camomile

1 Tbsp. dried Greek oregano

1 tsp. sweet paprika

1 lemon, halved

Pre-heated 375F oven

Mashed Potatoes With Drippings and Crispy Onions

4 medium Yukon Gold (yellow) potatoes, peeled

4 cloves of garlic

3/4 – 1 cup chicken drippings (strained of fat)

1/2 cup crispy onions

salt and pepper to taste

  1. Rinse your chicken well and pat-dry with paper towel. In a small bowl, add the rubbed camomile, dried oregano, paprika, salt, pepper, garlic and lemon zest and mix well. Now drizzle the olive oil on your chicken and sprinkle the rub mixture evenly on the entire body of the chicken (go on, use your hands). Insert the lemon halves into the chicken’s cavity, tuck the wings and tie up the bird with butcher’s twine.
  2. Place the chicken in  roasting pan with a bit of water and place uncovered in your pre-heated oven for 80-90 minutes or until an internal reading of 180F is reached. Remove from the oven, take out of the pan and cover and allow to rest.
  3. Add about 1 cup of hot water into the roasting pan and deglaze, scraping up the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Assuming your potatoes have boiled, strain the water and mash the spuds and garlic and add a slow stream of chicken drippings. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and stir in the crispy onions.
  4. Serve with your choice of vegetables and try a bottle of Chatzimihalis Chardonnay.

© 2012,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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