Late August

Late August is one of my favorite times of year, especially in Santa Fe. Fall starts early here. Temperatures drop and storms are longer-lasting. Yet in the early evening, the sun can be as strong as during the height of summer and a yellow heat burns over the landscape just before it sets.

I like that “august” can be an adjective. Described in the 1932 Webster’s dictionary (which rests in the archives’ reading room) as: “of a quality inspiring admiration and reverence; having an aspect of solemn dignity or grandeur; sublime; majestic.” I aspire to be august, though my nature is often more silly and fickle than majestic.

Travis is back in the casita with me and the dogs. It feels good to have him home and to once again figure out a routine together. It can be disorienting having your partner away so often and for lengths at a time. I always feel like we have a lot to talk about when he returns, but I don’t know where to begin and then I feel sort of … bashful. What I end up doing is being quiet and letting the days and nights and adjustments happen gently. This reminds me of a line by Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet and mystic I’ve been remembering lately:

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.” (from The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks, p. 51)

For a “Welcome Home” meal to ease us both back into cooking again, we decided on a simple favorite: Chicken with Lemon and Olives. Prep and clean-up are easy with this one dish meal and we both love the brineyness of roasted olives, lemons and white wine.

Chicken with Lemon and Olives

Ingredients

  • 4 – 6 chicken thighs, bone-in, trimmed of some of the fat and skin
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
  • 3 – 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 lemons, preferably Meyer, sliced or cut in wedges
  • 1 cup olives, mix of kalamata and green
  • ½ cup broth
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Preparation

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towels. Season well with salt, pepper and fennel.
3. Add olive oil to cast iron skillet and heat to high, but not smoking. Brown chicken on each side and remove.
4. De-glaze pan if needed with splash of wine. Lower heat to medium-high and sauté onions just until translucent.
5. Add garlic and continue to sauté for about a minute. Do not burn garlic.
6. Whisk in mustard, wine and broth to skillet, bring to a simmer. Let reduce slightly. Taste sauce and adjust seasonings as needed.
7. Add chicken back into pan, along with olives, lemon wedges and rosemary.
8. Cover with tin foil and bake for about one hour in oven, removing foil towards the end.

 

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