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kalua pork sliders

I was having one of those days where I wanted to buy a whole pig, dig a pit in my backyard, and just roast the crap out of the damn thing Luau-style. But a couple of things stood in my way: 1) I don’t actually know where to get an entire pig at the drop of a hat. Head? Sure. Feet? No problem. But the whole beast? I think I’d have to order it. Or drive outside the city. Which I don’t like to do on the weekends (Seattle traffic is a bitch).

2) If I came home with a pig carcass my animal-loving 3 year-old would name it, put a leash on it, and try to walk it around the yard. Mommy, why are you burying Puffaluff? Over a bed of hot coals? Oh, Mommy whyyyyyy????!!!!!! I can’t afford the therapy. 3) I live adjacent to the fire department. Quite literally. And with my luck, the boys (and girl–there is one) would be lured over the fence by the smell of roasting swine and write me some sort of citation for, I don’t know, an illegal animal roast.

So I nixed the whole pig idea and settled for a 4-pound roast and this lovely recipe from La Fuji Mama. It has all the flavor of that slow-roasted Hawaiian pork, but you don’t have to locate a whole swine, scar your daughter for life, or burn your house down to get it.

Hawaiian red and black sea salts (available at better grocers or spice markets; I bought mine in bulk for about $1.25 total) lend an earthy flavor, while liquid smoke (usually on the aisle near the BBQ sauce) substitues for the pit and charcoal. I downsized to a 4-pound roast (the recipe calls for 5-6), and it fed six of us with lots of leftovers.

Prick the roast all over with the tip of a sharp knife…

…and rub with the red and black sea salts. It will look super attractive.

Cook on low for 10 hours with a dash of liquid smoke, and that’s it!

Shred.

Take a picture of Charlie, because she spies the camera and is saying “cheeeeeeeese!”

Take a better picture of Charlie.

For a casual dinner party we piled the pork on soft slider buns with good coleslaw. Everyone went back for seconds. And thirds. And the best part? The pork took no time at all to make, so I could sit back, relax, and plot where to dig my pig-roasting hole.

-RDG

 

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Kalua Pork Sliders quantities and times adjusted from La Fuji Mama’s fabulous recipe 

Serves 8

  •  4 lb pork shoulder (butt) roast
  • 1 tbsp red hawaiian sea salt
  • 1 tbsp black hawaiian sea salt
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke
  • slider buns (I like King’s Hawaiian)
  • good slaw, for topping
1. Rinse pork roast and pat dry. Prick all over with the tip of a sharp knife. Rub with salts.
2. Place roast in slow cooker , pour liquid smoke over the meat, cover and cook on low for 10 hours (you may be able to cook it longer, depending on how “low” your lowest setting is on your slow cooker).
3. Discard 1/3 to 1/2 the juices and shred the meat with two forks, tossing with the rest of the juices (if you later chill the shredded meat without discarding some of the fat, you’ll find the solidified fat hard to pick around).
4. Pile slider buns high with pork and top with slaw. Enjoy!

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panang curry soup

It was just sitting there, taunting me. “You can’t drink me, silly lady. I’m a sauce! Not a soup.” I don’t like to be told what to do. So I took one look at the remnants of the panang curry from our favorite thai place, told it to shut it’s stupid panang curry mouth, and drank it.

It was right. It was too rich to be drunk. But it’s flavors—oh, it’s flavors!—creamy coconut, salty chicken broth, spicy red curry; they were destined to be in sippable form. So I set out to make this classic thai dish into a soup that can be both eaten and slurped, both without judgment.

I began with the classic panang curry ingredients: carrots, scallions, lime, shallot, ginger, garlic, and mushroom. For body I added yam, two types of potato, and boneless, skinless chicken thighs to start the broth.

You’ll also need thai red curry paste (available in most grocery stores), chicken broth, and coconut milk. Not pictured but also needed: olive oil, butter, water and flour.

Begin by rinsing the chicken and patting it dry. Trim off any excess fat, check for stray bones, and then cut into 1″ pieces.

Brown the chicken in a bit of oil until no longer pink. It’s best to do this in a big pot so you can make the soup in it, too.

While the chicken is cooking, you can mince the garlic and shallot…

…peel and chop the carrot…

…and dice the potatoes (peel the yam first).

Remove the chicken from the pot, add a bit more oil, and brown the garlic and shallot.

Add the potatoes and carrot and cook until tender.

Meanwhile, chop the shallots…

…and quarter the mushrooms (I like to lop off the very end of the stems first, but it’s not completely necessary).

Remove the potatoes and carrots from the pot. Melt the butter and quickly stir in the flour to make a roux.

Whisk in the broth, coconut milk and red curry paste, scraping the bottom of the pan to release all of the browned bits.

Add the chicken, vegetables, mushrooms, and scallions. Zest and juice half of the lime into the soup.

Grate in the ginger (I like to use the microplane for this, but if you don’t have one, the thin side of a cheese grater works just fine). Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it reaches the thickness you desire.

Serve with more chopped scallions and a slice of lime if desired, and a crusty bread, pita or naan on the side for dipping. Breathe it in. Savor. And slurp away.

Panang Curry Soup        printable recipe

Serve with a crusty bread, toasted pita or warmed naan for sopping up the fragrant, spicy broth.

Active time: 30 minutes Total time: 1 hour. 

Serves 8

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 small shallot
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 small yam
  • 1 large yukon gold potato
  • 1 large red potato
  • 1 small bunch scallions
  • 1/2 lb crimini or white mushrooms
  • 1 piece ginger root, roughly the size of your finger
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth or chicken stock
  • 2 cans coconut milk (not light)
  • 2 tbsp red curry paste (more if your like more spice)
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1 lime
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pan (preferably one you can create the whole pot of soup in) over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown the chicken with the salt until no longer pink, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot.
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2. Mince the garlic and shallot. Peel the carrots and cut into 1/2″ coins. Peel the yam and dice (I find a 3/4″ dice works well for soups) along with the potatoes.  Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pot and add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Add the shallot and saute for 1 minute more. Add the carrots, yam and potatoes; reduce heat to medium and cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender. Remove from pot.
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3. While the vegetables are cooking, chop the scallions and quarter the mushrooms. Peel the ginger root. Set aside.
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4. In the same pot, melt the butter and quickly stir in the flour, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Whisk in the broth, coconut milk, red curry paste and water, scraping the bottom of the pan as you stir to release the browned bits. Add the chicken, carrot and potato mixture, mushrooms, and scallions (reserving a few tablespoons of scallions for serving, if desired). Zest and juice half of the lime into the soup, reserving the other half of the lime for serving. Grate the ginger into the soup. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt, curry paste or lime if needed. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, or until soup reaches the thickness you desire. Taste once again for seasoning and serve.

 

 

 

creative kid snacks

The other day Dave and I were wrangling Lucy at the drug store.

Daddy, look at THIS! I want it!” 

“Mommy, it’s pink! It’s CINDERELLA SHAMPOO! Can I drink it?” 

“I NEED THIS TOW MATER BALL! NO I DON’T WANT TOW MATER I WANT LIGHTENING McQUEEN!” 

Dave looks at me. “Why is marketing so damn effective for kids? They are the biggest suckers for advertising EVER.”

It’s true. If you want to see a toddler meltdown, tell them they can’t have that Thomas the Train frisbee. As parents, it’s incredibly frustrating. Sometimes I feel like the companies responsible are suckering me out of my money because they know a pink princess potty will work for toilet training. They know a Dora water bottle will get Little Miss Picky to drink more liquids. They know a Hello Kitty Band Aid will calm the crying after a scraped knee. And even if your kid has never watched television, they somehow know who all these cartoon characters are. Gah!

But what I’ve come to realize is that gimmicks work because kids just don’t want things to be boring. They want something they can identify with, something that’s fun. So as parents, we can totally use this to our advantage.

Take snacking, for example. I have a heck of a time getting Lucy to snack healthy. I’ve tried every trick in the book and she still whines for granola bars and goldfish. But if I make snacks fun—give her an activity within the snack—it works like a charm.

I give you the Peanut Butter Fishin’ Hole. Stick pretzels in a lake of peanut butter (hippie peanut butter—natural with no added sugar), surrounded by dried blueberries.

The sticky peanut butter allows your little one to “fish” for blueberries. I guarantee you’ll hear “Mom! I got one!” over and over. Lucy even asks for this one for breakfast.

Her other favorite? The Hummus Hut. Get architectural with some thick hummus, a few baby carrots and some snap peas.

If your kid’s imagination is anything like Lucy’s, they’ll be making up stories about who lives in the house (for her, it’s a monkey and a sock), how they water the garden, where they park the car, what they eat for dinner…and then their humble abode will be munched to pieces. Poor little hut dwellers.

It’s also fun to make hummus cars using olives or grape tomatoes as wheels. Zoom, zoom.

And the last member of my creative snack arsenal is Nutella Builders. Cut up fruit into different shapes and sizes, add a dollop of Nutella and break apart a few graham crackers.

Give your tiny snacker a child-safe knife for spreading the Nutella (or let them use their fingers if you like) and then watch them get creative with the fruit. Clearly I’m not as inspired as my toddler because I made a happy face. Lucy has been known to create puppies, hospitals and motorcycles. If you don’t have Nutella it’s easy to substitute cream cheese, peanut butter, or even hummus with crackers and chopped veggies.

Your little one doesn’t want anything to be dull, so let them use a little creative energy during snack time. You might even be able to steer them toward healthier, whole foods. Steering them away from that Disney Princess Halloween costume, however? Sorry. Can’t help you there.

What are your tricks to get kids to snack healthy?

 

pulled pork enchiladas

Remember a few weeks ago when I revealed my secrets on how we eat well on the cheap? Well, this dish totally falls into that category. It’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s delicious. Plus, it’s perfect for double batches. Double the recipe, freeze the second pan and save for a rainy day. Or, you know, a tuesday.

I love making enchiladas because they are so adaptable for every season. In the summer I love stuffing them with fresh corn and herbs. In the fall, they’re fun to make with roasted pumpkin. In the winter, sweet potatoes make them scrumptious. Switch up the meat, cheese, and seasonings to make whatever flavor you want, whenever you want.

This particular batch—one of my favorites—uses slow-cooked pulled pork, jack cheese, sweet corn and fresh basil. They’re so summery but warm and comforting at the same time.

Begin with a pork shoulder. They usually range anywhere from 2 1/2 to 4 pounds (boneless), and that’s too much meat for 8 enchiladas. So either plan on making a double batch or using half of the pulled pork for something else.

I would say slice the roast in half and freeze the remainder, or just buy a really small roast, but I’ve never had good luck cooking small amounts of meat in the Crock.

Marinate overnight in enchilada sauce. A word to the wise: the kind of enchilada sauce you use is important. Make sure it’s a brand you know and like since it’s such a dominant flavor in this dish.

After marinating, place in the slow cooker for 8 hours on low.

To assemble the enchiladas you’ll need basil, tortillas (handmade will make all the difference—trust me), corn, sour cream, enchilada sauce, jack cheese, one sweet onion, and a few cloves of garlic.

Begin by mincing the garlic…

…and slicing the onion. I like wedges myself since it’s more fajita-style.

Saute the garlic in a little vegetable oil, then add the onion and saute for a few minutes until the onion just begins to become tender. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl shred half the pork…

…then add the corn (carefully sliced from the cob), chopped basil, and onion mixture.

Toss together.

Now here’s a trick that will perk up any enchilada recipe: mix sour cream into the enchilada sauce. It will make it creamier. And dreamier.

Next, shred an unholy amount of cheese. A hill of cheese. Heck, a mountain of cheese. If you like the pre-shredded stuff you obviously don’t like cheese should really consider taking 5 more minutes and shredding a real brick of cheese yourself. I don’t know what they put in those plastic baggies, but I don’t think it’s actually cheese.

Pour one cup of the the enchilada sauce/sour cream mixture into the bottom of a 9×13″ pan, then fill each tortilla with a sprinkle of cheese…

…and a few spoonfuls of the pork filling.

Roll up each tortilla as you go and place in the pan.

Pour the rest of the sauce mixture over the enchiladas…

…and top with the remaining shredded cheese.

Bake. Bask in the heavenly aromas that are wafting from your oven.

Serve topped with sour cream and pico de gallo, if you wish. Or just inhale them right out of the pan. Up to you—no judgment here.

For me, the contrast of the sweet corn and basil against the spicy pork and creamy sauce is just about as good as it gets. I have died and gone to summer enchilada heaven.

Pulled Pork Enchiladas    printable pulled pork heaven

Using quality pork, handmade tortillas and good enchilada sauce makes all the difference in this dish. Plan on either doubling the recipe or finding another use for the other half of the pulled pork. Serves 4-6.

Inactive Prep Time: 1 day                 Active Prep Time: 30 minutes          Cook Time: 35 minutes 

  • 3-4 lb boneless pork shoulder roast (sometimes called “pork butt”)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 28 oz can red enchilada sauce, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 ears sweet corn, shucked
  • 1 c lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 16oz container sour cream
  • 8 handmade 9″-10″ flour tortillas
  • 4 c shredded monterey jack cheese
  • pico de gallo, for serving (optional)
1. Rinse pork and pat dry. Place in a large freezer bag with 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce and the kosher salt. Refrigerate overnight.
2. Place pork and marinade in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
3. Preheat oven to 350F. Mince garlic. Slice onion. Heat vegetable oil on medium-high in a large saute pan. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add onion and cook 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion just becomes tender. Remove from heat.
4. Place half of the cooked pork roast in a large bowl and shred with a fork (reserve remaining half of pork for another use). Add the onion mixture. Slice corn kernels from the husk and chop the basil. Add corn and basil to bowl, stir and season filling mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
5. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the sour cream (reserve some for serving, if desired), and the remaining enchilada sauce. Pour 1 c of the mixture into the bottom of a 9×13″ pan.
6. Divide the filling equally among the 8 tortillas. Top with 2-3 tbsp shredded cheese, roll, and place in pan. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.
6. Cover dish loosely with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes, removing foil for last 10 minutes of baking, until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. Top with sour cream and pico de gallo if desired.

 

 

summer grilled cheese

This post was going to be about the glory of summer produce; beautiful corn, fresh basil, tart limes. I was going to tell you how I created this sandwich on soft brioche with melted sharp cheddar, tangy lime mayo, crisp basil and crunchy corn and how it brings the classic comfort food to a whole new (summery) level.

But I haven’t had time to write that dreamy, descriptive post. I haven’t had a serene moment with a cup of coffee and the quiet click of the laptop keys. And I haven’t had it because of all the screaming. Hours of screaming. From two little girls. Two little girls with four big lungs.

The baby is getting teeth. Two teeth, to be exact, and the poor thing just wants to chew through the table. If you’re a parent you know that there’s nothing more feared than the word teething (other than maybe blow-out) and that the little babes just go through hell to pop those little pearly whites out of their gums. You also know that no matter how long your baby sleeps at night, during teething those rules don’t apply. Needless to say, I’m tired.

The non-baby has decided that waking up halfway through every nap and every night is totally fun, especially when it means she gets to scream for mom and dad. She seems scared but can’t tell us what of. We ask her if she had a bad dream and she nods and cries, although I don’t think she has the foggiest idea what a dream is (her standard answer when I ask what she dreamed about has always been “monkeys cutting pizza!” which actually sounds like a delightful dream to have). She wants to sleep in our bed and then she doesn’t. She wants to sleep on the couch and then she doesn’t. She wants to sleep in the guest room and then she doesn’t. She does want to yell like there’s no tomorrow, and not go back to sleep for hours, and not nap, and be a tired cranky-pants all the time. So I’m a tired cranky-pants all the time who only has time to cook grilled cheese and not to blog about it.

But I digress. I have this moment now, where both children are sleeping, and I have a can of Diet Crack and the sun coming through the windows. So now I have time to tell you that to make this heavenly sandwich you’ll need bread (I used brioche, which is pretty much as good as it gets), mayonnaise (I like the olive oil-based stuff), a wedge of lime, cheese (I used sharp cheddar, but any cheese that melts nicely will do), one clove of garlic, and a ton of fresh basil.

Begin by squeezing the lime into the mayo. You would think that all that citrus would curdle the dairy, but if you stir quickly, there’s nothing to worry about. Cover & refrigerate until ready to use.

Mince the garlic…

…and slice the corn from the cob.

Saute the corn and garlic in a tablespoon of butter for just a few moments—sweet summer corn hardly needs any cooking at all.

Butter one side of 4 slices of bread…

…and spread the lime mayo on the other halves.

Layer on the basil…

…sauteed corn…

…and cheese.

Place sandwiches butter side down in a cold skillet with a tight fitting lid. Place skilled over medium heat. When first side is crisp, remove lid, flip sandwiches, and cook uncovered until crisp. This lid trick is great for allowing the cheese to melt (especially with thicker bread) while not burning the bread. Perfect grilled cheese, every time.

The melted cheddar wraps around those tender corn kernels creating tiny bites of sweet crunch. The basil adds brightness and the lime mayo creates a creamy tang.

Classic winter comfort food redesigned for summer. Whip up a batch of these crispy grilled cheese sandwiches, pour a glass of sauvingon blanc and sit out on the patio with your sweetie.

Ahhhhh. Summer.

And there goes the screaming again. At least I can dream of quiet moments.

Summer Grilled Cheese Sandwiches     printable recipe

This sunny version of the classic comfort food wouldn’t be complete without a cold beer or a glass of crisp white wine. Makes 2 sandwiches. 

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 5-10 minutes

  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 wedge lime
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 ear sweet corn, shucked
  • 1 tbsp butter, plus more for bread
  • 4 slices bread (I like brioche)
  • 4 slices sharp cheddar (or whatever cheese you prefer)
  • several leaves fresh basil
1. Juice the lime wedge into the mayonaise. Stir and refrigerate.
2. Mince the garlic. Slice the corn kernels from the cob. Melt the butter in a skilled over medium heat. Add the garlic and corn and saute for 1-3 minutes, just until corn brightens in color. Remove from heat.
3. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Turn and spread lime mayonnaise on opposite side of bread. Layer on the basil, corn and cheese. Place sandwiches butter side down in a large, cold skillet covered with a tight fitting lid. Set over medium heat and cook until bread is crisp and lightly browned. Remove lid, flip sandwiches and cook uncovered until cheese is melted and bread is crisp. Slice and serve.

raspberry cheesecakesicles

Remember in high school when you were forced to take a career aptitude test? You had to fill in little bubbles with #2 pencil, answering questions like “Do you enjoy completing the same task repeatedly?” and “Do you put others’ needs before your own?”
A few weeks later you were handed a list of possible careers. While my friends ooohed and aaahed at the prospect of becoming doctors and legal aides, I stared down at my own results list.
Jenny Puckett
Score: 0
Possible Career Matches: none
Likelihood of living in a van down by the river: 100%
“Well, shit,” I thought. “I guess I’m not suited to do anything.”
Yes, it’s a crap test. No, it won’t actually tell you what you’re going to do with your life. Because if it had any powers of prediction it would have said:
Jenny Puckett
Score: Awesome
Possible Career Matches: One Billion and a Half
Likelihood of crafting fabulous desserts: 100% 
Take my newest creation, for example. It combines the creaminess of cheesecake with the chill of ice cream. It has a crunchy graham cracker crust, requires no baking, and is so easy to make a toddler could do it (mine did).
All you’ll need are a few waxed paper cups and popsicle sticks, along with sugar, whipped topping (Cool Whip), raspberries, cream cheese, butter and graham crackers.

Place the graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor.

Pulse several times until fine crumbs form.

Melt the butter, pour it over the crumbs and squish together with your fingers until the crumbs are thoroughly moistened.

Scoop one heaping tablespoon into the bottom of each cup (or have a tiny helper do this part. It got messy but she was in seventh heaven).

Press the crumbs down firmly into the bottom of each cup. The more compact, the better. Lucy’s tiny pink “wine glass” was perfect for this step (yes, I find it weird that my 2 year-old has pretend wine glasses, too. I have no idea where they came from).

Stick them in the freezer for at least 15 minutes or until the crust is set.

In the meantime put the cream cheese, raspberries and sugar in a large bowl.

Blend with an electric mixer until smooth.

Fold in the whipped topping…

…and use a large freezer bag with the tip cut off to squirt the filling into each cup.

Insert the popsicle sticks into the center of the filling, careful not to push too far and break the crust. This is such a fun dessert to make with kids. Lucy was so proud of herself.

Stick ‘em all in the freezer for at least an hour before serving.

When you’re ready to eat, simply tear away the cup and you’re good to go.

These are so creamy and light, with fresh raspberry flavor and great texture from the crust. They’re such a fun, easy dessert—we’ll be making batches for the rest of the summer with blackberries, peaches, cherries and nectarines. They would be so fun for a party, too, as an alternative to cupcakes or ice cream cake.

Take that, career crap-titude test. I’m a dessert genius.

Raspberry Cheesecakesicles        printable recipe

This is a fun, easy summer dessert that’s great for parties. Substitute your favorite fruit or combination of fruits to make your own flavor! Makes 8 popsicles. 

Prep Time: 15 minutes Freeze Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

  • 7 graham crackers to yield 1 c graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 8 waxed paper cups, 9 oz size
  • 8 popsicle sticks
  • 1 c raspberries
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 8 oz whipped topping (Cool Whip)

1. Pulse graham crackers in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Using your fingers, mix crumbs with melted butter until thoroughly moistened. Pour one heaping tablespoon of crumb mixture into each cup and press down very firmly. Freeze cups for 15 minutes or until crusts are hardened.

2. In a large bowl beat together raspberries, cream cheese and sugar using an electric mixer. Fold in whipped topping. Pour mixture into large freezer bag, cut off tip, and squeeze filling into cups. Insert popsicle sticks into center of filling, being careful not to pierce crust. Freeze for at least one hour before serving. Carefully tear away paper cups and eat.

simple roast chicken

I like to get back to basics sometimes. I pick a recipe, strip it down to its core, and start fresh.

That’s what I’ve been doing with roast chicken lately.

There are a crazy amount of choices when it comes to roasting chicken. Do you truss? Brine? Stuff? Season? Baste? Butter? All of the above? None of the above?

When it comes to food prep I always lean toward the easy side. I stuff with simple aromatics. Nothing crazy, and I don’t insist on a bed of onions, carrots and turnips. I season the skin. I brine. And I purchase organic, free-range and local (when possible) chickens. Hippie chickens. Do it. I promise it makes all the difference in the world. (Or if you’d like to be scared out of your factory poultry ways, watch this.)

So let’s make a completely easy, delicious meal.

First, let’s make the brine. I use equal parts sugar and kosher salt: 1/4 cup of each.

Add a little warm water and whisk until dissolved.

Rinse your chicken inside and out, removing any innards what may be hiding in the cavity, and stick it in a large zipper bag. Pour the brine starter in and fill the rest of the way with water. The logic behind brining is simple: leave the bird in a flavored water long enough and it will absorb some of the liquid, keeping it moist during cooking.

Stick it in a bowl (in case, heaven forbid, your bag leaks and raw chicken-infused liquid tries to spill all over your refrigerator), and stick it in the fridge for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

The next day? Our little chickadee is retaining some water weight. Must be that time of the month.

Ready to season?

Chop up one lemon. I like to do it in eighths.

Also grab some cloves of garlic. Peel and skin.

And finally, rosemary. Or, if you have something else in your garden—sage, parsley, or thyme, for example—use that instead.

Rinse your bird and pat dry. And I mean dry. The skin will get crisp without adding any butter or oil if you get that sucker perfectly parched before roasting.

Go ahead and stuff the lemon, herbs and garlic into the cavity of the chicken.

Season all over with salt and pepper and place in a baking dish (or roasting pan with rack—whatever you prefer). I go the lazy route and line a pan with foil for easy cleanup.

Simple and really pretty to make. If you’re a trusser (yes, that’s a word—just trust me) now would be the time to tie this bird up. I’m lazy. I don’t truss. Plus, I all out of butcher twine, so there ya go.

Preheat your oven to 450F and stick in a thermometer. If you have an electronic one that you can read outside the oven, that would be ideal so you don’t have to open the oven door at all.

50-60 minutes later (or when internal temp has reached 160-165)? Perfectly roasted. No basting, no muss, no fuss.

Bird boobies.

Remove from oven and let rest for about 10 minutes before carving.

Oh, that skin looks perfect. I know I shouldn’t eat it.

But I will.

Moist, tender meat. Crispy skin. A hint of lemon, rosemary and garlic.

Is there a better, more simple meal? Saute some veggies and you’ve got dinner.

Get back to basics and roast yourself a chicken this week. You’ll wonder why you stayed away from this simple dish so long.

Happy Monday!

-RDG

Simple Roast Chicken

  • 2-3 pound whole chicken, innards removed
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 lemon, washed and cut into eighths
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, peeled and skinned
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine kosher salt and sugar in a bowl. Stir in one cup warm water and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Rinse chicken and place in a large zipper bag. Pour sugar/salt/water mixture over chicken and fill bag the rest of the way with water. Place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 450F. Remove chicken from brine, rinse and pat very dry inside and out. Stuff lemons, rosemary and garlic cloves into cavity. Season all over with salt and pepper. Roast for 50-60 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160-165F. Let rest 10 minutes before carving.