Honeybush tea rubbed roast chicken and chilli baked fries
I started the year with all the best of intentions of being healthy, to exercise more and to cook healthier food. I have managed to get out exercising quite a bit but then the cold came, and what a cold! It is bone chilling, face numbing and well, it drove me, one day, to look at properties in more sunny countries. I wouldn’t actually move but for a moment I was a little tempted.
Despite all the good intentions every now and then the odd piece of cheese makes it’s way to my dinner table. The other day I couldn’t stop myself and bought a (small) cheese, Brilliant Savarin. Brilliant Savarin is a cheese that is not single, not double but a triple cream dessert cheese. French, of course, tasteless if not ripe and utterly delicious when ripe and left at room temperature all day before eating! I ate it with melon and crackers, heaven! The cheese was devoured and the true cheese addict in me came out, back in the box!
In my quest to cook healthy food I picked up a whole chicken at the market. The meat is lean and one chicken easily provides two dinners making for one slow cooking dinner and a quick, usually week night meal.
I have a roast chicken recipe that I love and always use. This means that it is tried and tested, much appreciated but I wanted to do something different. I looked at my selection of the Dragonfly Tea that they sent me for testing, I haven’t been paid for this and I have fallen in love with the Mountain Honeybush tea. Honeybush tea grows only on South Africa’s Cape coastal mountain. It has a sweet honey scent and taste with just a hint of bitterness. I was fairly sure it would make a great dry rub.
I have never tried to make a dry rub with tea before but thought it would be interesting. I wasn’t in a hurry to go anywhere so there was plenty of time to wait for a chicken to roast. I had never done dry rub before I always used some sort of fat, butter or oil. I did a stuffing, mainly to keep the moisture in and I served it with oven baked chilli fries.
Mountain honeybush spiced dry rubbed chicken
preparation time 15 minutes
cooking time 1 hr 45 mins (it was quite a large chicken) + 20 minutes resting
oven 180C or 360C
- 1 whole chicken
- 2 teabags of Mountain honeybush tea, about 1 tsp
- 1 1/2 tbsp Szechuan peppercorns
- 2 star anise
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt
- approx 1 1/2 dl or 3/4 cup brewed Mountain honeybush tea
Start by boiling water to brew the tea. I used this to add to the pan whilst cooking, creating steam keeping the chicken moist. Add a little at the time during the cooking, making sure the bottom is covered with the liquid during the cooking process.
Toast the Szechuan peppercorns and star anise. They have a wonderful aroma.
Grind the peppercorns and star anise, mix with the paprika, the tea and the salt. Rub the spice mix generously with the spices, gently massage the meat.
Stuff the chicken, I use different stuffing each time and this time I mixed lemon, garlic, bayleaf and stale white bread with a little soak of the tea. The chicken is ready when the juices run clear from the breast and the thigh, I always test both just in case. The spice mix filled the house with a wonderful aroma whilst cooking.
I cut potatoes “fries size” and tossed them in a little salt, chilli flakes and olive oil. Roast them with the chicken for about 30 minutes and then let them roast for an additional 20 minutes whilst the chicken is resting or until crispy and cooked through.
French beans are a great side dish and I decided to serve them with a carrot and lemon dressing. I made it quite tart to go with the spices and the roast chicken.
French beans with carrot dressing
preparation time 5 minutes
cooking time 5 minutes
- 300 gr or 10 oz French beans
- 1 medium sized carrot
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- a pinch of sea salt flakes
Trim the beans and steam them for 5 minutes. Then place them in cold, icy water. Dry the beans whilst making the dressing.
Grate the carrot on the finest side of the grater. Mix it with the lemon juice, the olive oil and add the cumin seeds and sea salt.
Mix and place over the beans.
The skin turned out nice and crispy and the tea worked well with the Szechuan peppercorns and star anise and the flavour came through the meat as a lovely background note. The stuffing seem to have taken on more of the bitter taste of the tea, I tasted some, but it made for an incredibly moist chicken.
I have never used tea as a rub before but it added an interesting, aromatic flavour.
I have linked this Mandy’s Totally Talented Tuesdays, a great foodie and crafts party, a great place for inspiration! I found Mandy’s blog just browsing through great blogs and it is full of quirky tips and great recipes. Check out her blog here.