Chicken leg recipe Martinique style

Chicken leg Martinique style

In France I discovered exotic mixtures of ground spices, like Poudre à Colombo, le quatre-épices and others. I recently read in a French magazine about the origins of these spice mixtures. They were introduced to Europe by the people who had worked in India during the colonial times, but they were adapted to the European taste. Le quatre-épices was developed in Saint-Malo. Le Colombo, which is a mixture of turmeric, coriander, fenugreek, cumin, mustard, white pepper and clove, is more aromatic than spicy.

These ground spice mixtures need a long time of simmering for the taste and colours to develop. They are convenient to use, but don’t keep long. The following recipe is a loose adaptation from a recipe in a French magazine. We can imagine that it brings exotic taste straight from the French Caribbean. Those who cannot find Poudre à Colombo in their shops can replace it with mild curry powder.

2 servings

2 organic chicken legs
1 large tomato, chopped
About 16 small mushrooms, champignons de Paris
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2tbsp rapeseed oil
2 tbsp tomato pure
2 tsp paprika powder
2 tsp poudre à Colombo or mild curry powder
100 ml chicken stock
1 organic lemon
Parsley and zest of ½ lemon to decorate

In a heavy casserole warm rapeseed oil over medium-high heat and fry the chicken legs until nicely coloured on both sides. Wipe the mushrooms and add to the casserole to fry at the same time.

Reduce the heat to medium.  Peel and chop the onion and mince the garlic and add to the casserole. Add the tomato pure, spices and chicken stock, and mix. Chop the tomato and add to the casserole.

Reduce the heat to simmering. Cover the casserole and let simmer for 45 minutes turning the chicken legs a few times.

Meanwhile cook brown rice to accompany the chicken. Wash and chop the parsley. Wash well the lemon and zest half of it for decoration. Then peel the lemon, cut into small pieces and add to the casserole when the dish is almost cooked. Divide on the plates.


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Roc de l'Orméa above Menton

View from Roc d'Orméa down to Castellar

This hike starts from the centre of Castellar (main parking, 340 m), a hilltop village only about 5 km north of Menton as the crow flies.

Roc d'Orméa (1132 m) seen from Castellar

Roc  de l’Orméa (1132 m) dominates the landscape above Castellar, and offers a super panorama on a clear day. We did this hike in the end of February, and when we reached the summit, the foggy clouds ascending from the sea diminished the view. Unfortunately, this type of weather is not that uncommon on the eastern French Riviera.

Start the hike from the centre of Castellar and ascend past the chapel of St-Sébastien. Follow the


signs, initially yellow, later red and white GR signs, and signposts showing Tour du Roc de l’Orméa.

Continue ascending steeply along a partly paved road to the intersection near Col St-Bernard.  Again, note the signpost at this point, turn sharply right ascending along the trail that soon passes the ruins of Vieux Castellar  (870 m). This village was abandoned in 1435 because of the threat of a

Initial ascent from Castellar village

Saracen invasion in favor of the existing Castellar. The trail is now GR52 and marked with red and white signs.

The ascent to Col du Berceau is continuous and quite steep. The Col which is just under the summit of Roc de l’Orméa can be reached in about 2 h 30 min. From here, the summit itself can be climbed easily in less than 10 minutes.

Ruins of old Castellar

The descent to south is rapid. The intersection of GR52/51 is reached soon. At this point turn right and follow the GR51 trail back to Castellar.

On the summit of Roc d'Orméa

Total hiking time 4 h 20

Ascent 780 m

Map: IGN Nice Menton Côte d’Azur 3742 OT

Description in French can be found here


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Leg of lamb Provençal style

Roasted leg of lamb, gigot provençal, is a classic Easter dish in the South of France. The legs of lamb with bone used to weigh about 2- 2,5 kg, enough for six people at least, but our supermarket in Nice now sells also smaller legs weighing about 1,3- 1,6 kg.

In Provence, the lamb is cooked rosé, medium to medium rare. Before roasting it is rubbed with olive oil and flavoured with garlic, black pepper and bouquet garni, which is usually a bunch of thyme sprigs and bay leaves. I have found that roasting in 190⁰ C and 20 minutes per 500 grams works best if you also want to bake a vegetable gratin at the same time. After removing the leg from oven keep tented with foil for 20- 30 minutes before carving.

In Provence, the gigot is typically served with a vegetable gratin, tian.The following simple potato- tomato gratin is perfect in early spring. Later on, the vegetables could be more varied; courgettes, eggplants, bell peppers and so on as they come into season. Gratins made with potatoes need a bit longer baking time, so if your leg of lamb is small you can start with the gratin.

For a small leg of lamb, 3-4 servings

A leg of lamb, about 1,3 kg
2 cloves garlic
About 2 tbsp olive oil
1 bouquet garni made of several sprigs of fresh thyme and fresh bay leaves
Freshly ground black pepper

For a small potato-tomato gratin, 3- 4 servings

3 medium potatoes, thinly sliced
3 tomatoes, sliced
2 fresh bay leaves
Fresh thyme leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
About 500 ml vegetable stock
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 190⁰ C.

Take the leg of lamb out of the fridge so that it can reach the room temperature before roasting. Start preparing the potato- tomato gratin. Oil well a medium sized oven-proof dish, tian. Slice the potatoes and tomatoes and place them in layers in the gratin dish. Place the bay leaves and scatter the thyme leaves on the middle layers. Finish off with a layer of tomato slices, grind over black pepper and sprinkle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Place in the oven for about 20 minutes while you make the vegetable stock and prepare the lamb.

Peel and slice 2 cloves of garlic. Make small deep cuts into the lamb and insert the garlic slices. Rub the lamb with olive oil and grind over a few rounds of black pepper. Place the lamb in a roasting dish and arrange the sprigs of thyme and bay leaves on both sides. Place the roasting dish in oven and roast for 55 minutes for a leg of about 1,3 kg.

Remove the vegetable gratin from oven and pour in vegetable stock so that the vegetables are almost covered. Continue baking for about 1 hour. Cover with foil towards the end of the baking, if needed.

When the lamb is roasted, remove it from oven and place on a carving board. Tent it with foil and let rest for 20- 30 minutes before carving.

Meanwhile prepare the sauce. Discard the sprigs of herbs from the roasting dish and pour in 100 ml white wine. Scrape up all the bits from the bottom and pour the liquid in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes until thickened.

Carve the lamb and serve with the potato- tomato gratin and the sauce.

If you have leftovers from the lamb, they are great next day in a vegetable gratin topped with potato pure; this is called parmentier in French. They can also be added in a vegetable soup.


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Veal Osso Buco with orange

Veal osso buco with orange

This recipe is perfect to make when tasty oranges have appeared in our shops. It is slow-food at its best. After two hours in the oven the veal is tender, and meanwhile you have a chance to do something else! The dish is so tasty that we do not add any salt in it. If you wish you can add a pinch of salt at the table.

2 servings

2 veal osso buco, veal shanks with bone, about 200 g each
2 oranges
1 shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tbsp lavender or other runny honey
1 bouquet garni, thyme sprigs and a bay leaf tied together
Freshly ground black pepper
50 ml white wine

Wash and dry one orange. Grate the zest and set aside for decoration. Cover with film. Then peel the orange, divide into sections and remove the tough membranes surrounding the sections. Set aside on a plate, cover with film and place in the fridge.

In a heavy casserole, cocotte, warm the rapeseed oil over medium heat and fry the osso buco until golden brown on both sides. Add the shallot and garlic in the casserole. Spread the honey over the osso buco.

Preheat the oven to 150⁰C.

Press the other orange. Add the juice and bouquet garni to the casserole. Grind a few rounds of black pepper over the osso buco. Cover the casserole and place in oven for 2 hours.

When 15 minutes of the cooking time remains, add the white wine and orange sections in the casserole.

Divide the osso buco on the plates and decorate with orange zest. Serve with steamed new potatoes and Brussels sprouts.


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