“Maybe you think you don’t want to work on vacation. But when you’re staying at Babylonstoren, tucked in the Cape Winelands outside Cape Town, you’d be wrong. To start, you can play farmhand on the hotel’s 1,400 breathtaking acres: Gather produce – peaches, mulberries, stuff you’ve never even heard of (loquats!) – bake bread early in the morning, press olive oil from the 8,800 olive trees, harvest honey with the resident beekeeper. Then head back to your room, stylish whitewashed quarters inspired by centuries-old farm cottages, and cook your bounty in the room’s glass-cubed kitchen. Open a bottle of wine from the property, and wonder why making dinner doesn’t feel this magical at home.” (Excerpts and Recipes from “Eat, Drink, and Garden Your Heart Out at Babylonstoren,” in the May 2015 issue of Bon Appetit magazine. // Recipes by Maranda Engelbrecht).
Roast Chicken with Rhubarb Butter and Asparagus
“Talk about a spring chicken. The sour-sweet rhubarb butter seasons and bastes the meat as the bird roasts.”
1. Bring rhubarb, orange juice, honey, and ginger to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is soft but not falling apart, about 5 minutes. Drain over a small bowl. Reserve cooking liquid and rhubarb separately; let cool.
2. Mix rhubarb and butter in a small bowl until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Set aside 1 tablespoon rhubarb butter for vegetables.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (~200 degrees Celsius). Place chicken, skin side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Gently slide your fingers underneath skin to loosen and rub flesh all over with remaining rhubarb butter (try not to tear skin). Drizzle chicken with 1 tablespoon oil and some of the reserved rhubarb cooking liquid, scatter thyme over, and season with salt and pepper.
4. Roast chicken until skin is browned and crisp and meat is cooked through. Jjuices will run clear and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh should register 165 degrees Fahrenheit (~75 degrees Celsius), 40 – 50 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, prepare grill for medium-high heat (or heat a grill pan over medium-high). Toss asparagus in a large bowl with remaining 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper. Grill asparagus and lemons (cut side down), turning asparagus often, until stalks are just tender, 2 – 3 minutes. Let lemon halves cool.
6. Toss asparagus with reserved rhubarb butter. Serve chicken and asparagus with any pan juices drizzled over grilled lemons for squeezing over.