Foodie: Rosemary chicken can be medicinal and flavorful

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By Elizabeth Holm

For a number of years, I have experienced a diminished sense of smell; not a complete lack of smell, but a decreased ability to smell flowers, food and other odors. I attributed it to age and allergies and didn’t worry too much about it especially since my smelling ability would return periodically and then disappear again.

About a month ago, I made my rosemary chicken and vegetables recipe a number of times in an attempt to get it just right and ate it almost every day for a couple of weeks. I noticed that, at the same time, my sense of smell had fully returned, and it seemed a mystery as to why. Coincidentally, my plan for this article was to write about the health benefits of herbs.

Much to my surprise, while researching the scientific literature, I discovered clinical evidence from human studies that rosmarinic acid, found in both rosemary and sage, can significantly decrease the symptoms of allergic rhinitis including an itchy and runny nose, watery and itchy eyes and, possibly, lack of smell. Human clinical trials support the plethora of research showing that rosmarinic acid can decrease the immune response to allergens and the resulting inflammation that causes allergic symptoms.

Not wanting to draw an unreasonable conclusion from my own personal experience, I checked with a well-known researcher on taste and smell, Dr. Val Duffy. She indeed confirmed that my prolonged consumption of rosemary chicken and vegetables could indeed have led to the return of my sense of smell. Mystery solved.

You can experience the medicinal benefit from both fresh and dried rosemary but using it fresh in cooking makes it easier to control the flavor. Planting an herb garden in the spring is a wonderful way to have access to rosemary all spring and summer. Moreover, it is a hardy, evergreen plant that may last the winter and provide plenty of rosmarinic acid year-round.

This rosemary chicken and vegetable dish is prepared in a clay pot. Alternatively, you can put all the ingredients in a slow-cooker and cook on low for 7-9 hours or on high for 3 ½ to 5 hours. Another option is to put everything in a pot on the stove, add an additional 3-4 cups of chicken broth and simmer for 1-2 hours. When the chicken is done, remove the bones, cut up the chicken and return to the pot for a delicious chicken vegetable soup.

Ingredients

2 T olive oil
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
¼ cup finely chopped fresh rosemary ¼ – ½ t pepper
½ t salt
1 (3 – 4 pound) organic chicken 3 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces 3 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch pieces 10 fingerling potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 onion, cut in half and quartered 3 cloves of garlic, left whole ½ cup white wine or chicken broth Recipe

Directions

1. Soak the clay pot in cold water for 30 minutes

2. Combine the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, rosemary, salt and pepper.

3. Cut up the chicken into four pieces discarding the back and wings.

4. Combine the carrots, celery, potatoes, onion and garlic and toss in half the herb mixture. Place the vegetables in the bottom of the clay pot.

5. Pour the wine or chicken broth over the vegetables.

6. Coat the chicken with the remaining herb mixture and arrange on top of the vegetables.

7. Cover with the top of the clay pot and place in a cold oven.

8. Turn the oven to 425 degrees F and bake for 1 ¼ hours.

9. Remove the top, increase the oven temp. to 500 degrees F and bake 10-15 min or until chicken is browned.

10. Arrange on a platter, spoon the broth over the chicken and vegetables and serve.

The writer is a registered dietitian nutritionist in private practice in Alexandria. She can be reached at emholm@verizon.net.

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