LAVENDER HONEY & THYME ROASTED CHICKEN
Close your eyes and breathe in deeply. The lavender and thyme scent of this chicken just may take you on a journey to Provence. The Provencal countryside near Luberon and Mont-Ventoux blooms purple from late June to mid August when the lavender is harvested. At a quaint family-owned restaurant in Gordes near the famously photographed lavender fields of the Senanque Abbey, a version of this seasonal poulet is served. The herb bouquet with the hint of lavender and wildflowers turns ordinary chicken into a visual feast as fit for Sunday supper as a it is for a special gathering.
Nota bene: Lavender honey is easily sourced online today--use regular wildflower honey if unavailable. If fresh lavender is unavailable, dried lavender works well in the garnish bouquet.
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Trim excess fat from the chicken, remove the giblets, and season the chicken inside and out with salt & pepper.
3. Stuff the chicken's cavity with the thyme, 1/2 of the garlic head, 2 peeled shallots, and the lavender and tie the legs together with kitchen twine.
4. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil and the honey together.
5. Tie a couple of thyme sprigs together and use to brush the surface of the chicken with the olive oil and honey mixture. Set aside.
6. Toss the shallots in olive oil to coat and place in the bottom of the roasting pan.
7. Place the prepared chicken breast side down and roast for 20 minutes, or until the back is golden brown.
8. Remove the pan from the oven and turn the chicken breast side up.
9. Using the thyme sprigs as a baster, brush the chicken with the pan juices and another brush of the honey & oil mix.
10. Put the chicken back in the oven and roast until the breast is golden brown, about 25 minutes. A thermometer inserted into the thigh should register 165 degrees F. Remove the chicken, the shallots and the garlic from the roasting pan and let rest while the sauce is prepared.
11. Put the roasting pan over a burner and set the flame to medium-high heat. Add the water, and stir and scrape to remove the delicious brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
12. Strain the drippings into a bowl and spoon off the excess fat.
13. Whisk the lemon juice, remaining olive oil & honey mixture, fresh thyme leaves, and lavender together. Add salt & pepper to taste.
14. Place the chicken on a serving platter. Scatter the roasted shallots around the chicken and place the half head of roasted garlic on the tray. Spoon some of the sauce around the base of the chicken, reserving most of the sauce to be passed when the chicken has been carved and plated.
15. Just before serving, make a small herb bouquet with the lavender in the center and place in the chicken between the legs and the back so that it stands up straight.
Serves 4 TO 6
3 to 4 pound chicken
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 head garlic, halved
10 shallots, peeled and halved
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 lemon, zested in large peels
1 teaspoon culinary lavender
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons lavender honey
Fresh rosemary, lavender, and thyme, garnish
1/4 cup water
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon culinary lavender
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper