Weekend Herb Blogging – Sage

After Florence, after Paris, it is now time for business as usual in Brussels. Which means cooking, trying out new recipes, rediscovering my cooking books.

Lately we seem to be going through an Italian phase. There was the Asian restaurant phase, now it is time for the Italian cooking phase. A good source of inspiration stays The Silver Spoon. Another one is BBC Food where we found the recipes of Gennaro Contaldo. I am still very tempted to buy his cooking book, Passione: The Italian Cookbook. If anyone has already bought the cookbook, and has some feedback on it, I would be very pleased to hear about it.

Back to Italian cooking. Last evening we decided to stay in and cook a nice, hearty Italian meal. Looking through some Italian recipes, we opted for Gennaro Contaldo’s ‘Lemon and Thyme Chicken with Chilli Beans’. At the moment I am trying to cut out carbs in the evening, so this recipe was the answer to my questions. As always, we made some adaptation to the recipe to suit either individual tastes (less olive oil), or what was available (chicken legs instead of breasts).

And the Italian cooking class began. I have to admit, that there was no Italian wine, but we are working towards food/ wine perfect combinations. Of course after so much Italian talk, you wonder what is the connection with the Weekend Herb Blogging? Well, Italian cooking usually requires a lot of herbs. It is basically your answer to herb heaven. I love the fact Italian food is based on fresh ingredients, and it uses all these flavours to recreate what I can only assume is Italian home-cooking. ‘Lemon and Thyme Chicken with Chilli Beans’ in particular uses a lot of herbs among which sage. Which is my contribution to this weekend’s herb blogging

Sage is native to the Balkans and the Mediterranean region, which explains why it is so often used in Italian cooking and Greek cooking. Its name derives form the Latin ‘salvare’, which means saving. This most likely refers to the many medicinal and therapeutic qualities of the sage, such a curing abdominal pains, insomnia, as well as congestion of the airways.

However, enough about medicine, more about cooking and Italian recipes.

150ml white wine
1 lemon, juice only
4 boneless chicken breast (we used 2 chicken legs, fat removed)
plain flour for dusting
120ml olive oil (we used 2tbsp)
2 small onions, finely sliced
1 lemon, zest and pith removed, thinly sliced, plus a few lemon slices to garnish
16 branched fresh thyme
10 fresh sage leaves
salt and pepper

Chilli beans

1 clove of garlic
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
200gr green beans 1 lemon, juice only

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and rub well in. Lightly dust with some flour, shaking off any excess.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the chicken and seal on both sides. Once they are well-sealed and golden brown, remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
Lower the heat, add the onions, season with salt and pepper and sweat until the onions are soft.
Add the lemon slices, thyme and sage leaves and mix well.
Return the chicken to the pan, cover and cook over a gentle heat for three minutes. Raise the heat (but be careful not to burn the onions and lemon).
Add the wine and lemon juice, then cover and cook for 10-15 seconds, until the mixture is bubbling.
Remove the lid and simmer until the liquid has evaporated slightly. You will see the sauce thickening. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
To prepare the chilli beans, cook until tender, then drain and toss in the garlic, lemon juice and chopped chilli.

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