Heronswood: Sheetpan chicken with plums

For no good reason, here’s Tusk, with a young Fleetwood Mac and the 1979 USC marching band. Click on the post title to listen to the video.

While browsing for wildflower tips, the Sweetie came across Dan Hinkley’s book, Windcliff, and ordered it from Amazon. It is a heavy, coffee table hardcover filled with beautiful photography, poetic prose, and advice on gardening in the Pacific Northwest. The book describes Windcliff, Hinkley’s home garden, and Heronswood, a fifteen-acre public botanical garden and nursery near Washington State’s Kingston ferry, established in 1987 by Dan Hinkley and his partner architect Robert Jones. Heronswood is currently owned by the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe and is being restored by the tribe, Heronswood volunteers, and Heronswood staff, with input from Hinkley and Jones.

Itching for a reason to get off the block, the Sweetie and I picked up Ginny at the Pt. Defiance ferry and headed up Hwy 16 to tour the garden. As an afternoon ride certainly calls for lunch, along the way we stopped at Mori Sushi & Bento in Poulsbo.

Poke bowl


Bento box

The day was cool, the sun a dim reminder, and the clouds open to the suggestion of rain. We took a path that skirted the edges of Heronswood, passing through the folly (part fountain and part temple) in the woodland garden, past the kitchen potager, the pond, and the extensive collection of hydrangea varieties. As summer has turned into brisk fall and the colors are more subtle, visitors are fewer and we were almost the only people there. We hope to return again to see another season.

I’m giving this ”Gallery” feature a try and I think if you click on one of the small “thumbnail” pictures, it will open into a larger view.

Stone columns

Sheet pan chicken with plums, New York Times, Melissa Clark

“Beautiful to behold and easy to make, this sheet-pan dinner combines sweet plums and soft red onions with crisp-skinned pieces of roasted chicken. Toasted fennel seeds, red-pepper flakes and a touch of allspice add complexity while a mound of fresh torn herbs crowns the top. If good ripe plums aren’t available, you can substitute another stone fruit including peaches, nectarines or pluots, though if your fruit is very sweet, you might want to add a squeeze of lemon at the end. Serve this with rice pilaf, polenta or warm flatbread for a festive meal.”


  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon or orange zest 
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated 
  • 2 teaspoons honey 
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice 
  • Large pinch red-pepper flakes, or to taste 
  • 1 chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), cut into parts 
  • Kosher salt and black pepper 
  • 2 cups ripe, soft plums, pitted and cut into 3/4-inch thick slices 
  • 6 fresh thyme sprigs 
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled and sliced from root to stem in 1/2-inch wedges 
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling 
  • ⅔ cup torn mint, basil or cilantro leaves (or a combination) 
  • Flaky sea salt, for serving 


Toast the fennel seeds in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Pour seeds into a mortar and pound with a pestle until coarsely crushed (or lay seeds on a cutting board and pound them with a can or jar). Put the seeds into a large bowl and stir in lemon juice, zest, garlic, honey, allspice and red-pepper flakes.

Season chicken generously all over with salt and pepper and add to the bowl, turning the pieces to coat them with marinade. Mix in plums and thyme sprigs. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. When ready to cook, heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Put the chicken pieces, plums, and thyme sprigs on a rimmed baking pan. Add onions, spreading them out around the chicken and plums. Season plums and onions lightly with salt. Drizzle everything with olive oil.

Roast until chicken is golden and cooked through, 30 to 45 minutes, removing the white meat if it’s done before the dark meat.

Transfer chicken pieces as they are done to a platter. Spoon the plums and onions around the chicken. Drizzle a little of the pan drippings over the chicken and serve, garnished with the herbs and flaky salt.

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2 Responses to Heronswood: Sheetpan chicken with plums

  1. Kathy says:

    Beautiful pictures. I’m so glad you could get out to see such beauty and fresh air.

  2. Barb says:

    Wow. Gorgeous. Im glad you got out before thr freeze. Love you

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