Herbes de Provence, ahhhh…. (insert dreamy sounds here)
The aroma takes me to a shade-dappled terrace where I sit in a comfortable padded armchair, my feet up on an ottoman. On a table next to me is a wooden tray filled with an assortment of cheeses, olives, cornichons, confits and slices of a crusty baguette. My eyes have left my book. I gaze off into space and over the rolling hills, taking in the vineyards and wildflowers. I wonder, as I take a refreshing sip, if the grapes in my white wine came from those vines. Mmm, that’s good wine. My eyes close for a bit. This breeze feels so good, warm and…
Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!
What the hell? Where am I? Oh, the timer. The chicken’s done. So much for Provence.
So what the heck is herbes de Provence and why would it transport me to a fairytale France? And why is “herbes” singular? I’ll leave French grammar to another day, but according to Penzeys, my favorite spice purveyor, “Herbes de Provence combines sweet French herbs and flowery lavender with Italian herbs and fennel, demonstrating the historical influence of the Romans.” The ingredients will vary depending on the blender. Penzeys’ mix includes rosemary, cracked fennel, thyme, savory, basil, tarragon, dill weed, Turkish oregano, lavender, chervil and marjoram.
I use herbes de Provence to flavor chicken, fish and roasted or grilled vegetables, especially potatoes, asparagus, zucchini and eggplant. I also love adding it to scrambled eggs or omelets.
Herbes de Provence is the star in this chicken dish. The strong aromatic flavor of the herbs is balanced by the sweetness of the honey.
I served the chicken with wild rice and roasted carrots as suggested on the Baked Bree blog where I found this recipe. I had a box of Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice (Long Grain & Wild variety) that I bought for pennies courtesy of double coupon days at Harris Teeter. The rice is already cooked and just needs to be heated up with some water, or chicken broth, in my case. I also added sautéed mushrooms, onions and garlic to make it even better.
I made the chardonnay carrots that are suggested on Baked Bree but I didn’t like them. They took an awfully long time to cook in the foil and still came out too crisp. Even though I decreased the amount of wine, the wine flavor was too overpowering. Next time I’ll make a vegetable without wine, something that will be more of a contrast to the chicken’s rich sauce.
Herbes de Provence Chicken
You’ll need a cast iron or heavy oven-safe pan and a whisk.
- 4 bone-in skinless chicken thighs
- 4 tablespoons melted butter
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
- Olive oil
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
Preheat the oven to 425. Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Put the chicken in a cast iron pan or heavy oven-safe pan. Whisk together the melted butter and honey. Add the herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. If you wish, add a bit of olive oil to increase the coating amount. Pour the honey mixture over the chicken. Toss the chicken to coat. Pour the wine over the chicken.
Bake the chicken for about 45 minutes, or until it’s cooked through. Take the chicken out of the pan and let rest on a plate. Boil the pan juices over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes. Whisk the flour and chicken stock into the pan juices. Whisk constantly, until it thickens, about 2-3 minutes.
Pour some of the gravy over the chicken and reserve the rest to serve alongside.
Original recipe: Herbes de Provence Chicken, Baked Bree