I’m obsessed! Marjoram has taken over my life… I’m finding ways of getting it into all sorts of dishes these last few weeks and I’m loving it… I can’t have enough of marjoram, and thyme, and oregano and I can’t believe for the first 40 years of my life I only looked for basil and coriander in the herb section of the supermarket… with a bit of bay and a tiny bit of parsley (bleugh) and ignoring mint totally (BLEUGH).
And now I’m growing my own to keep with up with the amounts I need; it’s like a drug. A perfumed, lemony, herbaceous, aromatic and healthy drug, I’m chopping with abandon…!
Uses for marjoram leaves this week: tossed with leaves and a classic lemon vinaigrette for a crunchy almost-spring salad; chopped up with thyme, salt, a little chilli and butter and smeared under the skin of roasting chicken; sprinkled over a freshly cooked tomato, red onion & bocconcini pizza; sauced up with its aromatic herby friends – basil, coriander, thyme and oregano – garlic and butter and tossed through home-made linguine; garnishing a bowl of wintry Jerusalem artichoke soup; and my favourite: finishing off my easy-peasy & cheap one-pot chicken braise… delish. And now to the recipe!
Mel’s easy-peasy & cheap one-pot chicken braise – Serves 4 (with potential leftovers for pasta!)
8 chicken drumsticks (free-range at least)
2 brown onions
4 cloves garlic
2 tins cherry tomatoes
A cup of chicken stock
Salt & pepper
Fresh herbs: handful marjoram, oregano, thyme
Dried herbs: 2 bay leaves
Preheat oven to 160°C.
Brown off the chicken drumsticks with a good glug of olive oil in an oven-proof casserole dish* (with lid & wide enough to fit chicken in one layer if possible). Remove.
Peel then halve onions & finely slice, add to hot pot and stir. Strip thyme leaves from stalks and add to the onions. Peel and crush the garlic, add to the pot and cook, stirring, on medium heat until the onions are soft but not brown.
Add chicken back to the pot, pour in the tomatoes and enough stock to almost cover the chicken, sprinkle a good pinch of salt, grind some pepper and add the bay leaves. Turn heat up and watch until it’s almost boiling, then pop lid on and place in oven for an hour.
With 20 minutes to go, take the lid off to let the liquid reduce a little.
Remove from the oven, pick the leaves from the marjoram and oregano, chop them up and sprinkle over the finished chicken. Serve immediately.
Best eaten with buttery boiled potatoes and garlicky broccoli.
*Best by far is to cook this in cast-iron – I’ve got a big Le Creuset and a small cheapie version from Aldi and they both cook up a storm… worth investing in (or not!).
Linguine and herbs
500g fresh linguine
1 tablespoon cooking salt
225 g butter
8 small cloves garlic
Small bunch basil to yield 1/3 cup
Bunch coriander to yield 1/3 cup
3 or 4 sprigs thyme to yield 2 tablespoons
3 or 4 sprigs marjoram to yield 2 tablespoons
3 or 4 sprigs oregano to yield 2 tablespoons
Small bunch parsley to yield 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons black olives
Flaked salt & black pepper
Fill a large stockpot with water and heat on high. Meanwhile wash & carefully dry the herbs, then pick the leaves if needed, discarding the stems. Finely chop herbs. Slice the olives & finely chop the garlic.
Melt the butter in the saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and cook gently for a couple of minutes. Stir in the herbs.
When the water is boiling add the pasta & cooking salt, stir, put lid back on and when boiling again cook for 3 minutes until ‘al dente’. Drain the pasta and transfer to back into the stockpot. Add the butter mixture to the stockpot and toss carefully. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with black olive slices and serve into the serving bowls.
(Adapted from Alice Waters’ ‘The Art of Simple Food)
yum yum pigs bum.