Down the road from Even' Star Organic Farm, in Southern Maryland, live Cameron and Donna. On their coastal property overlooking the Chesapeake Bay, they raise sheep. They only have a few dozen animals... they keep the herd small so that they can personally attend to each one and ensure they live a healthy, free-range life. Last year, when I did some work for Brett, he paid me in lamb from their farm.
On a recent visit, Cameron and Donna invited us to their home for dinner. Cameron prepared a dish from his native Iran: Rosewater Marinated Grilled Lamb with Roasted Tomatoes and Rice. The floral aroma of the roses ranks up there with intoxicating scents, right behind Tahitian Vanilla and Truffles.
Now that the roses have begun to bloom, I want to recreate this dish with fresh roses (and chicken instead of lamb). Soft and velvety with a floral fragrance, rose petals taste just as they look. They are inherently edible, though you want them to be free of any chemicals, pesticides or sprays. The safest bet is to grow your own. And be sure to remove the bitter white portion of the petals
To bring the dish full circle, I garnished the last of my mesclun with a few more rose petals.
Rose marinated Chicken with Roasted Tomatoes
3 tbs. olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
½ tsp. ground cumin
1 cup plain yogurt
Rose petals and/or 1 tablespoon rose water
6 chicken thighs or 2 pounds boneless leg of lamb
Salt and pepper to taste
3 roma tomatoes, sliced in half
1. In a small skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the cumin and remove from heat. Let cool.
2. In a bowl toss the chicken with the onion/garlic mix, yogurt, roses and saffron. Season with salt and pepper. Let marinate for at least 2 hours or as long as over night.3. Prepare a charcoal grill. When it’s hot, remove the chicken from the marinade. Grill skin side until crispy and slighty charred. The timing depends on the fire and the type of grill, but keep an eye on it since the fat in the skin can cause flare-ups. Flip the chicken over and move to the cooler side of the grill. Put the tomatoes on the grill. Cover the grill and let chicken roast for 15 minutes, or until cooked through.
4. Serve with basmati rice pilaf.