Mexico Life
Rosemary Commonly paired with stuffing and roasted meats, rosemary can be added to other, often surprising, dishes.

Rosemary’s fresh, piney taste wakes up cocktails, scones, roast meats and more

Its long history of culinary and medicinal use continues today

Nestled between the ornamentals on my little balcony are a handful of potted herbs: basil, oregano, mint and rosemary. I’m planning to have a couple of tomato plants in there too. Living in the city, it’s the best I can do. The small effort to maintain them is well worth having fresh herbs on hand in the kitchen.

Rosemary — romero in Spanish — has been in my repertoire forever. It thrives near the ocean (as do I) and was in my gardens in California too. In fact, the name “rosemary” means “dew of the sea” (ros marinus) in Latin. It’s native to the Mediterranean (like me) and is from the sage family. The plants can be either upright or trailing and have little pretty fluffy, pink, purple or white flowers throughout the year.

Its long history began with the ancient Egyptians, when it was used in burial rituals.

While rosemary pairs perfectly, and commonly, with potatoes, stuffing, chicken and other roasted meats, its piney-fresh flavor is a tasty add to all kinds of other, often surprising, dishes.

It has a characteristic aroma and a slightly bitter taste that you either love or hate. The oil-rich pine needle-like leaves are used either fresh or dried.

rosemary-jamaica cocktail
Try this easy rosemary-jamaica syrup and mezcal for a decadent cocktail.

In Mexican cuisine, romero is found in rice dishes, including classic paella, as well as in pork ribs and rabbit and in some whitefish dishes, most traditionally with bacalao (codfish).

Medicinally, rosemary tea is used to alleviate indigestion and stomach disorders and as a calming sedative. A poultice of romero is said to be effective in relieving joint inflammation and muscle and bone pain.

Rosemary oil is also used in incense, cleaning products and shampoo.

Jamaica-Rosemary Mezcal Cocktail

Syrup:

  • ½ cup dried jamaica flowers (dried hibiscus flowers)
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs, divided
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1½ cups sugar

Cocktail:

  • 2 oz. mezcal
  • 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ oz. jamaica-rosemary syrup

To make syrup: Steep jamaica and 1 rosemary sprig in boiling water for 5 minutes.

Strain into a container with a tight-fitting lid; add sugar and stir or shake until dissolved. Refrigerate up to two weeks.

To make cocktail: Combine mezcal, lemon juice and jamaica-rosemary syrup in cocktail shaker; fill with ice.

Shake until chilled, about 12 seconds. Strain into ice-filled rocks glass; garnish with rosemary sprig. —seriouseats.com

Rosemary nuts
You’ll go nuts for this snack made with a rosemary glaze.

Rosemary Spiced Nuts

Lots of steps, but worth the effort! Use cashews, walnuts, pecans or almonds, separately or mixed.

  • 4 large sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1/3 cup pitted oil-cured olives
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne
  • Generous pinch salt
  • 4 cups raw nuts

Preheat oven to 300 F. Grease a rimmed baking sheet. Line a heatproof plate with a paper towel. Arrange rosemary sprigs on top (be sure they’re dry), and lay another paper towel over them.

Microwave on high until rosemary is completely dry, 1–2 minutes, watching carefully that it doesn’t burn.

Remove rosemary needles from sprigs; discard woody stalks. In a mortar and pestle, pulverize needles to a powder, then sift through a fine-mesh strainer.

Arrange olives on heatproof plate; microwave at half power until dried, about 5 minutes, watching carefully.

Transfer dried olives to a mortar and pestle; pulverize to an oily paste.

In a medium-sized saucepan, combine water, sugar, cayenne and salt. Heat on medium-high until sugar dissolves. Stir in nuts and cook, stirring, until coated in a syrupy glaze and almost all water has cooked off.

Spread glazed nuts in a single, even layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake about 25 minutes until nuts are lightly toasted.

Let cool, stirring every few minutes to prevent sticking. Break up any clumps.

Add olive paste; stir to coat nuts. Stir in rosemary powder. Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

rosemary roast chicken
Elevate simple roast chicken to something special.

Maple-Rosemary Chicken

  • 1 (3½ lb.) whole chicken or pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2-3 rosemary sprigs, plus 2½ tsp. finely chopped rosemary
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup

Heat oven to 375 F. Pat chicken dry; season with salt and pepper, inside and out. Place breast side up in 10-inch cast-iron or ovenproof skillet; stuff rosemary sprigs into cavity.

Melt butter over medium-low heat. Add chopped rosemary and maple syrup; cook 1–2 minutes until rosemary is fragrant and mixture thickens slightly. Spoon mixture over chicken, evenly covering it. (Some will end up on the bottom of pan.)

Place chicken in oven and roast, basting with pan juices every 15–20 minutes, until chicken is glossy and golden brown, 55–60 minutes. Remove from oven; rest 10 minutes before carving. Whisk remaining juice and serve with chicken.

Lemon-Rosemary Scones

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 5 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

In food processor, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in sugar, lemon zest and rosemary. Add butter; pulse until mixed and butter is pea-sized.

Add sour cream, milk and lemon juice; pulse until dough comes together into a ball. On a floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/3-inch thickness.

Cut 1½-inch rounds with a biscuit cutter or rim of a glass. Transfer scones to baking sheets; brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 12–15 minutes until edges are golden. Cool on wire rack. Serve spread with nata or butter.

Janet Blaser is the author of the best-selling book, Why We Left: An Anthology of American Women Expatsfeatured on CNBC and MarketWatch. She has lived in Mexico since 2006. You can find her on Instagram at @thejanetblaser.

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