Schav Sheet Pan Chicken with Sorrel and Dill
It has been months since I last posted, and it has been quite a time! For the past two months, I was out doing research in California. A lot happened before and during that trip; you'll get a taste of some of it because I'm working on a post about Chinese restaurants and menu art in California Chinatowns in the 20th century.
But after two months away from my kitchen and garden (and only having access to about 1/2 a kitchen), I was very ready to get back to cooking full meals and testing my own recipes. Unfortunately, heavy rain and a confused husband wreaked havoc on my garden. All of my strawberries, my dill plant, and a few of my tomato plants died. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that, with all the rain, my sorrel lasted far later into the Texas summer than I thought possible. Sorrel means one thing to me...schav, a delicious "green borsch" that my mother made every spring. It is a delightful spring soup that showcases sorrel, a lemony seasonal green typically too temperamental to buy at the grocery store but that is super easy to grow at home. You may find it at local farmer's markets in late spring if you are lucky. Schav can be poultry-based or vegetarian dairy, cold or hot, brothy or stewlike. It will usually have potatoes, carrots, maybe some hardboiled egg as a garnish.
It's too hot to be comfortable soup weather here in Austin, but I wanted to develop a recipe that captures the taste of schav in a substantial weeknight-friendly recipe when soup doesn't sound very appealing. I came up with a sheet pan chicken rubbed in sorrel and dill butter (or margarine to keep it Kosher), roasted with the vegetables that would typically garnish the soup. I used carrots and potatoes only, but you can experiment with other root vegetables.
6-8 bone in, skin on chicken thighs, or one whole quartered chicken
large handful of fresh sorrel leaves, roughly chopped
two green onions, cleaned and roughly chopped
2 tbsp fresh dill, roughly chopped
4-5 cloves garlic
1 tsp whole peppercorns
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp butter or Earth Balance margarine
2 tsp salt
6 small or 3-4 medium sized red potatoes, cut into bite-sized halves or quarters
4 medium or 2 large carrots, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 an onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
Crush the whole spices in a mortar and pestle. Add in the garlic and salt to make a paste. Add the sorrel, dill, and green onions and continue to pound everything together. When you have a wet paste, add the butter or Earth Balance. Pound together to incorporate the herbs into the butter. Once the butter is soft, you can mix everything up with a spoon. Alternately, you can do all this in a food processor, but the flavors of the herbs won't be as pronounced.
Rub the herbed butter onto the chicken, making sure to get the seasoning below the skin as well. Toss the chicken with the vegetables, onion, and bay leaves. Spread everything on a sheet pan and let sit for 30 minutes. You want the chicken and vegetables to be a little crowded as long as the chicken pieces do not overlap with each other—this keeps the chicken moist and gets the chicken fat onto the vegetables.
Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Arrange the chicken pieces skin side up. It's okay if some of the vegetables are under the chicken.
Bake at 450º for 35 minutes. Turn the heat up to 475º and cook for an additional 10 minutes, until the chicken skin is crisp.
Let rest for a few minutes before serving.