It’s that time of the year when I can stop at my local farm’s market and be certain to leave with a bundle of their own fresh parsley and basil. The fragrance of these spring herbs beg to be used almost immediately, in true farm to table fashion. Coupled with a quick trip to my local butcher for fresh locally raised chicken and tonight’s dinner is, Chicken with Spring Herbs and Wine.
I realize that not everyone has access to a farm or locally raised meat. But remember, even in the city, there’s likely to be a farmer’s market nearby. How great to have some of the farms in your state travel to you, providing you with their harvest fresh-from-the-fields. It’s certainly worth checking it out! If you do need to purchase these ingredients in a supermarket though, choose well. Organic ingredients are healthier and your food will be less compromised, especially when it comes to delicate herbs and leafy greens.
Chicken with Spring Herbs and Wine is a warm-weather favorite for my family. Since the herbs and greens I use are fresh from the farm (and in a few short weeks, from my own garden), this is a seasonal dish that I’ll only make in the spring and summer. In the colder months, I omit the fresh herbs and use capers and winter greens like swiss chard.
I suggest the use of chicken thighs for this recipe, as the bones add flavor. The chicken is seasoned then browned on both sides using a large skillet – make sure it’s oven-safe. After it’s been browned, the chicken nestles into a savory bath of broth, white wine, lemon, garlic and saffron and the whole thing, skillet and all, goes into the oven – and you can completely forget about it for 40-45 minutes. So sit and relax. Read a book. Pour a glass of wine. Or, if you’re like me with two children under the age of eight, that free time allows me to repeatedly ask my kids to get their homework done or to referee their bickering over, oh, I don’t know, just.about.everything.
When the chicken is done, it will be fall-off-the-bone tender and full of flavor. Add a generous handful of fresh basil and parsley (and, while optional, any other tender seasonal greens you might have on hand, like organic baby kale) and it’s ready to serve! My kids love to dunk chunks of crusty bread into the “gravy,” which resembles more of an au jus – and there’s certainly plenty of it!
Be sure to make a side dish to compliment and accompany this succulent and brothy deliciousness, like potatoes, pasta, rice or quinoa. Recently I’ve discovered black bean spaghetti, a healthy pasta alternative that is chock full of protein, and I love the exotic color it provides to my table.
Any leftovers are just as good the next day. Or, make a completely new meal by shredding the leftover chicken to toss into a salad (along with a drizzle of that amazing broth) or on a sandwich with lettuce and tomato, mixing a bit of the savory broth in with a good quality mayo.
However, if there’s one thing you gain from this recipe, I hope it’s that you see fresh parsley as more than a mere garnish. It’s a mildly woodsy-tasting, herb. In generous amounts it’s a beautiful and nutritious green to toss into your spring and summer recipes. Parsley is packed with amazing levels of vitamin K and contains chlorophyll which is important in protecting the body’s cells from cancer. You can read more about the health benefits (and the risks if you’re on blood thinners) here. So next time, don’t skimp on the parsley, it’s much more than an afterthought.
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Chicken with Spring Herbs and Wine
4-8 chicken thighs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, sliced thin or chopped depending upon your preference
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup dry white Bordeaux wine (I use Sauvignon)
4 small-medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
Juice from 2 lemons (not lemon juice in the bottle, that has a different taste)
Pinch of saffron (a few threads, crushed)
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 bunch of fresh parsley, roughly chopped (tough stems removed)
Handful of fresh basil, chopped (see notes)
Handful of organic baby kale or any other tender leafy green, roughly chopped (optional)
- See notes below for pre-preparation;
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Mix salt and pepper and set aside. Take the chicken that has been patted dry and generously season each side with your spice mixture. Make sure to lift the skin a little to season well;
- Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onions, a light sprinkle of salt, and saute until almost fully tender. Add the chicken and cook for several minutes on both sides until golden brown. Set aside (it will finish cooking in the oven);
- Remove from heat to add the wine and carefully deglaze the pan. Add a little wine at first as the pan will be piping hot and could splatter, take precaution. Return skillet to a simmer and scrape-up those delicious browned bits, add broth, crushed saffron, lemon juice and garlic and continue to simmer until it reduces by half;
- Return chicken to the pan and add a little bit of basil, parsley, kale (optional) from the bunch (saving most of the greens to add right before serving). Cover the skillet and place into the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes;
- Remove from the oven and add the remainder of the chopped parsley and basil. Serve immediately.
Recipe pre-preparation: Pat dry your chicken and leave it out for 20 minutes before preparing. Letting some of the chill subside from the refrigerator will help ensure a quality crispness to the chicken while cooking . Also make sure you have an oven-safe skillet, with a fitted lid, that can hold 4-8 pieces of chicken comfortably, there should be some space around the pieces.
Basil: Because basil is delicate, don’t chop it ahead of time, wait until the moment you need to use it. Otherwise, you risk it bruising.
Make sure the greens you use are organic. If not, their tender leaves will absorb the chemicals and pesticides used and you will, in turn, digest these contaminants. On the other hand, the lemon has a thick peel which will protect the inside from contaminants and doesn’t need to be organic, unless you plan to use the rinds.
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