I was a relative stranger to fresh dill. As far as fresh herbs go, dill is pretty innocuous. It’s not a particularly pungent or difficult to use and yet for some reason, I never really cooked with it and except for a few random sprigs that sometimes appeared on my lox, I never really ate it much either.
This past week, I finally had occasion to both cook and eat it. I made quite a tasty cold cucumber soup that called for it and had a lot left over. While having dinner with my friend Genevieve, I happened to mention my dill surplus and she suggested I put it on chicken.
I happened to have some chicken legs in the fridge and whipped up the following:
Braised chicken legs with dill lime honey glaze
2 chicken legs with thighs attached (skin on)
3 tablespoons honey (I used rambutan blossom honey from Dean & Deluca, but its tart taste is not for everyone and it may be difficult to find. Substitute regular honey if necessary.)
2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
1 cup chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix the honey, lime zest, lime juice, dill, salt and pepper in a bowl and use a brush to apply glaze to both sides of the chicken. I kept brushing until all the glaze was used up (about four coats on each leg), mostly because I think it’s fun, but you may have less time (or sense of whimsy) than I do.
Place chicken in a small roasting pan or casserole dish and pour chicken broth into dish so that the legs are about half covered. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
Put in oven and cook for about 35 minutes until skin is goldeny brown and meat is cooked entirely through. Let meat rest (because that’s my favorite new amateur tip that is probably obvious to people who can actually cook). The general rule is about 8 minutes per pound, I believe. If that’s wrong, blame my mother for false information or my failing memory for remembering incorrectly. Serve with white rice.
I was really happy with the way this turned out, especially since it was totally improvised with ingredients I already had. My boyfriend, however, felt the need to douse it with salt. Despite myself, I started a line of passive aggressive questioning. (“What do you think? Do you not like it?”)
I found myself insulted and irritated because he seems to add salt to everything I cook. I like to think that I have a pretty good palate and I taste food as I’m making it and adjust the seasoning accordingly. I mean, I know taste is subjective and what is salty to me is obviously not salty enough for him, but I tried to get to the bottom of what accounts for our disparity in palates.
I’ve come up with two possible theories:
1.) Blame it on communism
My boyfriend grew up in Uzbekistan, part of the former Soviet Union. Food was rationed and fresh meat was not always readily available and he consumed a lot of canned, heavily salted meat and smoked poultry that could be preserved in the desert climate. Across the board, I find that he prefers intense flavors that hit you over the head with a hammer to subtler ones and I suspect his early diet has a great deal to do with this.
2.) New York, New York
Most people I know in New York (even the starving artists) eat most of their meals out. Maybe it’s because it’s so easy, maybe it’s because we’re so busy, maybe it’s because our apartments are so cramped we don’t want our bedding to smell of garam masala for two weeks after we make dinner, but it seems that the average New Yorker eats most of his or her meals in restaurants. Restaurants put lots of salt in food. Lots of salt. It makes sense. Salt brings out flavors, it tastes good, it makes food taste good.
But I think all this dining in restaurants has changed people’s sense of taste and they’ve come to believe that food should have lots of salt in it. My boyfriend claims that he didn’t always put so much salt in his food. Could New York’s restaurants be to blame?