Wham Balm Thank You M’am!

(Barbecued Lemon Balm Chicken)

Barbecue Chichen with fresh herbs (1 of 10)I’ve been reading up about click baiting. Facebook are having another go at putting the kibosh on the practice. I have some issues with the approach. I understand that they will not allow headlines that don’t directly relate to the  content following. I do accept that there is a need to prevent the “Ten things that rich people do that you don’t.” and “At last, a simple cure for your flatulence.” headlines. But, this line of reasoning will, ultimately, lead to writing with no creative content. Where the headline needs to relate directly to the following content and subject needs to be SEOed into the text, the ability to write around a subject, as I am doing now, becomes very difficult. 

I suspect when they see a headline like mine above and realise that the story is about chicken, they will ban me from their platforms. Then they will send a team of android ‘corectobots’ around to my house in a self driving car. I fear for my future. While I wait for them to get here, read a recipe for Lemon Balm Chicken (it’s what I’m writing about).

The “Thank You M’am” bit is in thanks to our friend Helen Wood who welcomed the Wife and I to the Keirmasi Gites, in the Dordogne, for our French holiday this year. Helen has a lovely lemon balm bush growing in her garden. It provided the balm of the title. 

Ingredients for Lemon Balm Chicken

  • 1 great quality chicken
  • 1 handful of fresh lemon balm
  • 1 handful of fresh thyme
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 3 cloves of excellent garlic
  • 1 good glug of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

To my mind, the best way to barbecue a chicken is to flatten it out so there is a reasonably thin surface area for the heat to permeate. This process is called spatchcocking. It sounds vaguely vulgar but, it isn’t. Simply stand the chicken on end, with the rude bit pointing upwards. Cut down either side of the backbone with a knife or large kitchen scissors.

Barbecue Chichen with fresh herbs (2 of 10)

This is a small enough bird. Plenty for two.

Place the chicken down, breast side up and press down  until it flattens. There will be some bone cracking involved in this (the chicken’s, not yours).

Barbecue Chichen with fresh herbs (3 of 10)

There is something pretty comedic about the unfortunate chicken.

Skewer the chicken through the leg, breast and wings. Chop up the garlic. Remove the thyme and lemon balm leaves from their stalks and throw the lot into a dish. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Barbecue Chichen with fresh herbs (5 of 10)

The lemon balm aroma is fantastic. You have to try this!

Pour in the glug of olive oil. Add the chicken and bast it with the marinade.

Barbecue Chichen with fresh herbs (7 of 10)

This is a fairly gratuitous raw chicken shot. I liked it.

Cover and store it in a cool place for a couple of hours, basting every 20 minutes or so.

Heat the barbecue. Cook the chicken. You can use a meat probe to test for doneness or you can trust to luck and experience as I did here.

Barbecue Chichen with fresh herbs (8 of 10)

This is the action shot. That barbecue was very hot indeed.

Carve the chicken. This will be easier as a result of the bone crunching spatchcocking.

Barbecue Chichen with fresh herbs (9 of 10)

It’s hard to avoid the blackened bits. However, the flavour of the chicken is divine.

Serve it with a nice fresh salad and some local sparkling Rosé, should you be in the local of a producer. 

Barbecue Chichen with fresh herbs (10 of 10)

A lovely sparkling Rosé added to the sense of occasion.

As for the art of creative writing, I hope that the Googles and Facebooks of this world either are very smart in what is considered to be on topic or we can face an online future of stifling predictability. Now, I have to go. I saw a great article, on something that I couldn’t believe what happened next, that I just have to read…

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Latest comments
  • Finally something to do with the lemon balm that grows like a weed all over my garden! Maybe your next post could be something along the lines of ’10 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do With Lemon Balm’?

  • Starving!

  • That looks perfect and evidently corn fed 🙂

  • Of course, reading fast, I missed that first ‘l’ and for the first ten seconds did wonder where the blog was heading – what fun! Before admiring your ‘great quality chicken’ tho’ I could not keep my eyes away from that pile of ‘excellent garlic’ . . . since too much of ours came from China and now oft bears the Chilean label and one needs to see the proverbial bank manager ere buying Australian if available . . . this is such a simple dish that the quality of the ingredients is paramount . . . I oft spatchcock the bird [we do use the term as a verb] but usually use a heavy stovetop grill pan: no burning but daresay less taste . . . love lemon balm and do grow it . . .

  • Being a big fan of a creative title, I have been reigning myself in lately. Due to all that SEO, LMNOP (made that up) malarkey. Boring as all hell it is. This tasty looking dish with that sparkling glass of goodness however, does not look boring. (If I tell you this wasn’t post didn’t show in my feed it will make you cranky, so I won’t tell you.)

  • I am curious, here in the States, they call that Lemon Verbena. Lemon Balm is a much wider leaf. Is that what they call Lemon Balm over there?

  • Your lemon balm looks suspiciously like lemon verbena. Lemon verbena is a nice bush, lemon balm is a sprawling thing in the mint family that roots wherever it flops and menaces any piece of open ground within its long reach. And it doesn’t taste nearly as good.

  • You know this looks damn delicious, right Conor? I hope you didn’t get too sucked in to what happened next to respond to all the lovely comments. 😉

  • I feel we should all have the right to maximum creative punning in our post titles. I take full advantage at all times, as you know… Your gymnastic chook (well, it IS doing the splits, isn’t it?) came to a deliciously sticky end, the poor balmy fowl. My lemon balm persists in dying in these parts, no matter how often I keep trying. Maybe some locally grown, excellent quality lemongrass will do the job instead?

  • Okay. I finally know something to do with my prolific lemon balm besides pinch and sniff. Keep the creative titles coming. Ignore the Facebook think. Cheers!

  • Oh this chicken looks so good! Love the charred skin and use of lemon balm this way. Unfortunately it’s not so easy to get it. I’ll keep looking. 🙂

  • Congratulations on resisting the temptation to use “spatchcocking” in the title. I couldn’t have been that strong-willed. Of course, it would have been clickbait AND been relevant SEO. But that delicious-looking chicken is all the clickbait you need. Well done, you! Now I’m off to work “spatchcock” into my next blog post. Cheers, Ben

  • Unlike my friend Cheery I am getting your posts in the reader but still no comments showing on WP. I have to open the webpage. I’ll help your stats and resubscribe, see if that sorts it. Lemongrass sounds like a great sub, but I think lemon zest would do the job too, I’ll be trying this one….

  • Yeah, I think that’s what we call verbena here in the States. But, whatever! It would be just as good with lemon balm (which I haven’t planted in a decade yet still comes up in my herb garden … unlike verbena which is an annual here) or, as Sandra says, maybe lemon zest too. Delicious!

  • Spatchcocking is my favorite way to grill chicken, too, Conor, and you cannot go wrong with lemon flavoring, no matter 0how you add it to the bird. That plate looks fantastic!

  • That looks utterly amazing and I love your titles 🙂

  • All the talk of Verbena reminds me that when I was an impoverished and youthful socialite I had a Verbena-scented spray for ironing. I didn’t have my own saucepans, but for some reason I had a £10 bottle of perfume to be used on freshly washed laundry. I’m glad I got my priorities righter in other ways and spent the rest of my disposable income on alcohol and cigarettes. In the meantime, I also learned to cook chicken, but not as well as this. It seems you make me want to improve myself in a deeper sense, Conor.

  • Cheers to the lemon verbena spotter. Although I have lemon balm in the backyard, I missed the recognition of the verbena. The lemon balm is a wider flat leaf. And yes, it is very mild lemony scent and flavour. I suppose you can use it as a herb in any salad, just like mint!

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