Spice-Brined Honey Lemon Chicken

pepper-chicken-oh-l

Yes, I practice Zen and yes, I eat meat.

I’ve tried being a vegetarian. Heck, I was even a vegan for a few weeks. I didn’t gain clarity. Instead, my hair starting falling out.

I went to my Teacher with my plight. He told me it’s all about intention and gratitude and that even the Dalai Lama eats chicken. So I’ve got that going for me.

I think the Dalai Lama would like this recipe.

Yield:  4 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons black peppercorns

3 teaspoons coriander seeds

8 cups water

1 cup Kosher salt

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/3 cup honey

Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage

1 cup water

One 4- to 5-pound roasting chicken

Directions

To brine the chicken: Put the 1 tablespoon black peppercorns and 2 teaspoons coriander seeds into a saucepan and toast over medium-low heat, swirling the pan, until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 2 cups of the water and the salt, raise the heat to medium-high, and stir until the salt is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the remaining 6 cups water and the red pepper flakes. Let cool to room temperature.

Rinse the chicken well under cold water. Transfer to a large sturdy plastic bag or pan just large enough to hold it. Pour the brine over the chicken, making sure it is completely immersed. Refrigerate overnight.

Mix honey, lemon zest and juice until combined. Melt butter and whisk in until smooth. Cover and refrigerate if not using right away.

Position a rack in a roasting pan. Remove the chicken from the brine and rinse well under cold running water. Pat the chicken completely dry with paper towels and set it on the rack in the pan. Let the chicken come to room temperature, 20 to 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Coarsely crush the remaining black peppercorns and coriander seeds and add to honey lemon mixture. Stir in the rosemary and sage.

Pat the chicken again with paper towels to make sure it is completely dry. Brush the honey/lemon/pepper/ spice mixture evenly over the surface of the chicken, coating the whole bird. Return to the rack in the pan and pour 1 cup of water into the pan.

Roast the chicken for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325°F and continue roasting until the chicken is golden brown and the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. Add water 1/2 cup at a time to the pan if it starts to dry out. Let the chicken stand for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.

Serve with steamed broccoli and wild rice.

Minnesota Wild Rice Soup

One year I got extra fancy and started out Thanksgiving dinner with this wonderful soup! It’s a delicious and satisfying winter meal in itself.

Yields 8-10 first course servings

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked wild rice

2 tablespoons butter

2 leeks, diced (about 2-1/2 cups)

2 plum tomatoes, diced (1 cup)

4 celery stalks, diced (1 cup)

8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (2 cups)

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup flour

6 cups chicken broth

2-3 bone-in chicken breasts, cooked, removed from skin and bone, and diced (1 1/2 cups)

1 cup cream

1/4 cup dry sherry

1 tablespoon honey

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook the wild rice according to the directions on the package. Wild rice generally takes 55-60 minutes to cook.

In a large soup pot, melt the butter and sauté the leeks, tomatoes, celery, mushrooms, and garlic on medium high heat. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened, stirring occasionally.

Add the flour and stir until blended into the vegetables. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the wild rice and chicken. Stir in the cream, honey and sherry. Cook until thoroughly heated. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot!