It is not winter here inside my kitchen. The four inches of crystallized water piled up on the back porch is just an illusion created by the white curtains and the angle of the light. That sound isn’t howling wind. It’s a neighbour’s dog, Or the TV. Or the neighbour’s dog howling at the TV.
No. This is a winter-free zone. Those aren’t snowy boots weeping salty tears onto the tiled mudroom floor. That pile of dirty footwear is my gardening boots, their tangled laces dripping a misguided blast from the hose. I was just outside soaking the rose bushes. They’re so thirsty this time of year.
The damp mittens drying on the gas stove? An easy mistake. They’re actually oven mitts. I dropped them in the soapy dish water and set them there to quickly dry out. And those hats and scarves tossed so casually on the sofa are nothing but fashion statements. They aren’t for warmth.
No. Winter isn’t here. It’s far away. Can’t you tell by the sweet and fragrant Lavender Honey Chicken?
It smells of summer fields and looks almost as pretty. Just look at the dish. This isn’t the cold, dull brown of winter fowl. It’s mauve and gold and glowing like the sun.
Put away the roasted turnips and the braised cabbage. Instead, haul out the salad. A bed of bright, crunchy, spring greens would do nicely. Wash it all down with well-chilled, crisp Pinot Grigio, and think of how you will sip your morning coffee on the patio under the shade of wisteria. Tomorrow.
- ¼ cup Madeira (dry sherry, dry port or dry Vermouth will do just as well)
- 1 teaspoon dried lavender buds
- 6 tablespoons honey
- freshly ground pepper
- freshly ground sea salt
- 2 large or 4 small bone-in, skin on chicken breasts (enough for 4 servings)
- 1 heaping tablespoon fresh tarragon, finely minced
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts, optional
- In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the Madeira, lavender and honey to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for a few minutes or until the sauce smells fragrant and thickens slightly. Set aside for 30 to 60 minutes for the lavender to permeate the honey while you prepare the rest of the meal. Stir in a good grinding of salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and place a rack in the middle of the oven.
- Place the chicken breasts in a shallow baking dish, skin-side up. Pour the lavender honey sauce over the chicken and cook for 45 to 60 minutes, basting once or twice. The timing will vary with the size of the chicken breasts but a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast should read 165°F.
- Serve drizzled with some of the pan sauce, a sprinkling of tarragon and pine nuts, if using.