Recipes and Food Stories from the African Diaspora
By Sanura Weathers of MyLifeRunsOnFood.com
Lavender isn’t traditionally an African ingredient (at far as I know). The best is grown in France, where it’s mixed in an Herbs de Provence blend of thyme, savory, rosemary and other herbs. It also nicely pairs with sweet potatoes, a starchy root vegetable, in which African slaves who were brought to the Americans, found to be similar to their native yams. Broccoli and Freekeh Pilaf or Brazilian/Stir-Fry Style Collard Greens.
Provençal-Inspired Roast Chicken with Sweet Potatoes
1 tbsp. dried lavender
1 cup of fresh herbs; minced to make 1 cup (rosemary, thyme, oregano and Italian parsley)
1 tsp. mustard
4 garlic cloves; minced
1/2 tsp. of sea salt; more or less to taste
1/2 tsp. fresh black pepper; more or less to taste
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
The zest and juice of one lemon; reserve used lemons for cavity of chicken
A pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)
1 tsp. honey
1/4 cup olive oil; plus more
4 tbsp. unsalted butter; divided
1 Whole chicken; thoroughly cleaned and patted dry
2 unpeeled sweet potatoes; cut into 1-inch cubes
1 red onion; roughly chopped
2 celery stalks; ends trimmed and roughly chopped
In the bowl of a food processor or blender, process/puree the lavender, fresh herbs, mustard, garlic, sea salt, black pepper, wine, vinegar, the zest and juice of one lemon, optional crushed red pepper, honey and olive oil. The marinade should make about 1 cup. Divide in quarters.
Place chicken in a large bowl. Season with sea salt, black pepper and a little olive oil. Rub about a quarter cup of the marinade over the whole chicken, including a little in the cavity. Place chicken–breast side down–in the bowl. Cover and marinate for at least one hour to overnight.
Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a large baking dish with foil.
Toss sweet potatoes, onions and celery stalks with the second-third of the marinade with sea salt and fresh black pepper (amount to taste), a little olive oil and roughly chopped 2 tablespoons of butter.
Gently (not removing) separate the chicken breast’s skin from the meat. Place a tablespoon of butter between the skin and meat on both sides of the chicken breast. Place reserved lemon halves inside the cavity of the chicken.
Place whole chicken, breast side down over the sweet potatoes in the baking dish.
Meanwhile, place the rest of the marinade in a saucepan over medium-low heat to bring to a simmer. After about four or five minutes, the marinade will slightly reduce. Cover marinade (now a sauce) and turn off the heat. Place the saucepan towards the back of the stove. The heat of the oven will keeps the marinade/sauce warm.
Bake the chicken about 30 minutes and turn the chicken over. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake chicken for about one hour or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked as indicated by the golden brown skin.
Remove chicken from the oven. Let sit for about 20 minutes. Using a sharp knife, separate the chicken into pieces (legs, thighs, both breasts cut into four pieces, wings with the tips discarded, and so on). Return chicken pieces over the roast sweet potatoes. Pour marinade/sauce over the chicken.
Enjoy with a salad.