I began seeing fresh lemon verbena at the Cooper Young Community Farmer’s Market several weeks ago. This powerfully fragrant herb accents some of my favorite hand soaps, I thought at the market, but I couldn’t figure out what to do with the herb in the kitchen. Intimidated, I put off experimentation until my friend David Siefker offered me some of this pungent herb from his home garden.
Ready to accept a challenge, I researched how others include lemon verbena in their cooking. I found many dessert, tea, and cocktail recipes, but I really wanted a savory recipe to make for dinner. Several sources added lemon verbena to seafood, chicken, and even pork. No hits for beef or lamb in my search which makes intuitive sense.
In the mood for poultry, I stuffed the leaves of lemon verbena and sprigs of oregano underneath the skin of chicken thighs. I then seared and braised the thighs in chicken stock in an enameled cast iron pot.
The higher fat content of the thigh meat absorbed the herb flavor during cooking without overwhelming. The chicken stock used for braising the thighs made a luscious base for a cream gravy with shallots.
When eating the chicken, I discarded the lemon verbena leaves. Too strong for me! But the herb imparts a fragrant lemony flavor in the meat. I served green beans tossed in tarragon and mashed potatoes with the braised chicken thighs but a green salad and white rice would also round out the plate well. Plan for a starchy side to adorn with the gravy! Paul poured a California Chardonnay from Haber Family Winery to enjoy with the meal.
Braised Chicken Thighs with Lemon Verbena
- 8 leaves of lemon verbena
- 4 small sprigs of fresh oregano
- 4 chicken thighs, skin on
- Kosher salt
- Cracked black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups chicken stock or broth
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 3 heaping tsp, all purpose flour
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Stuff herbs underneath the skin of each thigh. Salt and pepper both sides.
- Heat olive oil in a large enameled cast iron pot to medium high. Place chicken thighs in pot skin side down for 4-5 minutes until seated to a golden brown. Flip chicken and sear for 2-3 minutes.
- Remove chicken. Add 1/2 cup stock and use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape the fond from the pot surface. Return chicken to pot skin side up and add remaining stock. The stock should completely cover the thighs. Turn heat to low, cover the pot with lid and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Remove chicken to a plate and cover with aluminum foil pour braising stock into a bowl to reserve.
- Melt butter on medium heat in the pot and add shallots. Stir until softened. Add flour and stir until flour is absorbed and begins to clump around the shallot. Add 1 cup reserved stock and stir until thickened. Whisk in cream and heat through. Serve gravy on chicken, mashed potatoes or white rice.