I’m stepping aside from the plant based proteins for one post and going back to a former recipe upon request. If you have been following my blog, you understand that I have made a choice to eliminate land animals (chicken, beef, pork) from my diet due to personal health goals. Striving towards a healthier lifestyle with diet is a very difficult task but i’m choosing to take it one step at a time, day by day to get by. I’ve learned to discipline myself and hold back on buying and cooking with the usual animal proteins I once loved to work with. A trick I have found to keep active with this change it to meal plan every week. Come up with a menu for what I will cook that week, write up a grocery list and shop for only those items. It not only saves me time and money but it keeps me motivated to cook again as I actually have a plan as to what I am going to prepare for that day or evening. I am also married to a Chef, keeping a strict vegetarian diet is almost near impossible when food and culture is everything to us. I have to at least keep dairy, eggs and seafood in my diet or I wouldn’t be able to keep this blog going!
About two weeks ago on a cold Sunday evening, I went about the usual relaxing after dinner to a netflix show with the hubs until I decided to come into the computer room and check my emails, per usual I was distracted by facebook before doing anything else. Scrolling through the feed I came across my dear friend Tony who had posted about his apartment catching fire. Shortly after reading his post, I had seen numerous reports of an apartment fire very close to me which happened to be the same building my friend Tony lived in. I was worried for him and his girlfriend, however via his post, everyone was okay and out safely, their belongings and apartment were to be determined after the fire report. I was just happy to hear everyone was okay. The next day I messaged my best friend April who happens to be Tony’s sister about the fire, she confirmed everything and agreed to meeting with me as I wanted to help with anything I could. She told me over lunch that a gofundme page was set up in their name to help raise money in any funding they might need towards new housing, clothes and all personal items to start over. I offered to give money but was quickly denied as they requested I provide nothing more than a full meal for them to enjoy as Tony & his Girlfriend Moira were living off pop tarts and pizza rolls for the time while lodging at a friends house until they get their life back on track.
When you lose everything in a fire, you also suffer personal traits you once enjoyed such as cooking because you don’t have your own kitchen and equipment to work with. Working in someone else’s can become challenging and most often awkward as you don’t want to abuse your welcome. I asked “What should I make?” and the answer was simple, “Just cook a whole bird with their favorite sides, green beans & broccoli.” This was literally the easiest task I’ve ever had and I couldn’t be more excited because I knew exactly what I wanted to do and it felt good to go back in time and pull from the archives one of my favorite techniques for a great meal, a simple brine and roast method. This recipe is comparable to the one I was provided when I worked at the Greenbrier. Working in the Forum-an Italian based restaurant, we would brine whole Chicken and then roast the next day. Then pulling the meat from the bone to be used in one of our pasta dishes. If I ate Chicken still, this would be one of my go to recipes. This brine not only adds great flavor, but keeps the right amount of juices in tact for a moist texture.
Mise en Place for the Brine:
- 4 Cups Water
- 2 Cups Granulated Sugar
- 1 Cup Brown Sugar
- 1 Cup Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Black Peppercorns
- 3 Bay leaves
- 1 Small Bunch Parsley Leaves
- 1 Small Bunch Thyme
- 1 Whole Chicken ( I used about a 5 LB bird, insides removed)
Mise en Place for the Roasting:
- 1/2 Stick Butter, cut in cubes
- 1 Bunch Fresh Thyme
- 1/2 Lemon, sliced in rounds
- 2 Celery Stalks, chopped small
- 2 Carrots, peeled, chopped small
- 1/4 Yellow Onion, chopped small
- Vegetable Oil for brushing on top
- S&P, for Seasoning
Method of Prep:
- In a wide 3 gallon pot, bring water, both sugars and salt to a simmer, continue to mix until both sugars are dissolved. Turn off heat, add in peppercorns, bay leaves, parsley and thyme. Allow the herbs and spices to steep for 10 minutes. Remove from stove and place in refrigerator to cool completely.
- Remove pot from refrigerator, place whole bird in the brine. Fill with water until the Chicken is completely submerged, about 8 cups more. Cover and set in refrigerator overnight (or at least 4 hours).
- When ready, set the oven to 325 degrees. Remove Chicken from brine and place on top of a roasting rack. Stuff the end of the Chicken with celery, onion, carrots (Mirepoix), thyme sprigs and Lemon rounds. Under the skin of the breast, stuff with the butter cubes. Using a pastry brush, lightly oil the top of the chicken and season with s&p. Place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
***You can save the used brine and reuse it again up to 3 times, just continue to use only raw poultry or pork in the brine. This brine will hold up to 1 week as long as it’s sealed tightly.
***Save your chicken bones and use for a stock! Take used bones from the carcass and seal in a ziploc bag. Place in the freezer for up to 3 months and use for homemade stock!
Green Beans Mise en Place:
- 1 Bag Green Beans, ends trimmed
- 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 1/2 Lemon
- 1/2 Stick Butter
- S&P, TT
Method of Prep:
- Bring a large pot of water, about 5 cups to a rolling boil. Blanch beans by dropping in water, allowing to steep for 2 minutes. Remove from boiling water and drop in ice water to shock or stop the cooking.
- Drain water from beans. Bring a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add in butter and allow butter to lightly brown, you will begin to smell a light nutty aroma. Add in garlic and stir until lightly browned about 1 minute. Add in Beans, season with salt and pepper. Toss until coated well with butter and seasonings. Reduce heat, using a zester, zest the 1/2 lemon rind over beans. Squeeze in fresh juice and toss again to coat. Cook until al dente, approximately 4 minutes.