The first time I cooked a whole bird, I was horrified, touching it, and all it’s parts that were stuffed in the cavity,  I was 12, so I guess thats normal. It came out terrible, under cooked, and bland and I was so upset that I set my mind to figure this thing out, and honestly it took years to perfect, it would get better and better as time passed but, was not like the one’s I make today. They come out perfect everytime, and it’s really about the cavity itself, you have to think of it as the infuser to the rest of the bird, because everything you put in it, permeates through out the bird it gives it moisture, flavor and texture. What you put on the outside, is very important also as it flavors the skin……hmmmm skin. I know, its like the worst part for you, put how delicious is skin…. come on I know you love it!!!!

      Well finally, at about 19, while working, at Deejen’s Big Sur Inn, my good friend, and Mentor, and Chef, and Boss, Steven House, taught me, what I was doing wrong, and showed me, what I was to do, if I wanted it to come out like a pro everytime, during the winter months in Big Sur, customers are few and far between so Steven and I still had to cook, but not for as many as in the summer, it was more relaxed. He’d open a bottle of wine mid afternoon, to add to “a sauce” of course, and some would make it in to a coffee cup, miraculously, remember I was 19, but who was counting,  and off to the races we would go. On this particular afternoon, we were doing Cornish Game Hens, little tiny chickens, but same principal.
        So, he had me clean, and trim them, of any fat and undesirables, and made me dry them completely!

And when I say dry, I mean inside and out, and then set them on the counter, all in a row, to start the process! He was so wonderfully meticulous, about every, little, tiny, detail. I loved that trait, and it has served me well over the years, taking extra special care, with my food preparation, don’t cook in a hurry, unless your cooking on a line, in a restaurant, in the middle of a rush! Always leave plenty of time for prep work, it will make your life, and meal, so much easier to prepare, and because of that it will taste better. He was so smart, when it came to food preparation, he was like, a cooking God!
       And he, unlike many Chef’s I have worked with over the years, had this incredible patience, and teacher like, quality about him, a calmness in the kitchen, w/ Classical Music, his favorite and mine, at the time being  Vivaldi , wafting through the air, in rhythm, with the smells of his delicious cooking, and the crisp Big Sur winter air, coming thru the always open window, above the prep work station counter, where we were  busy, busy ,busy, chopping, grating, julienneing, and laughing……. mixing things up, making it happen. He gave me a great respect for food, wine, and intelligent conversation. He is a brilliant man!

       The tying up, is really not necessary, to me when just cooking at home, for a casual dinner, unless your cooking for guests, in my opinion, as it makes the bird look better! When your going to carve it at the table, or as with the little game hens, as there would be a whole little bird, served on each plate. Steven taught me so much, about so many things, I haven’t talked to him in years and have googled, and searched Facebook, and still haven’t found him, but this is for him, I hope he goes cooking blog surfing, like I do, and finds me, now…… that would be cool!

Preheat oven to 375ºF

Lemon Pepper Thyme Chicken:

1 4-5 lb Chicken
2 Lemons
1 Package Poultry Blend Fresh Herbs
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher salt
1 onion
1 Clove garlic smashed
Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Dried Thyme

       First apparently, the bird must be oiled, inside and out, with the finest extra virgin olive oil you have, and then the cavity must be salted, with Kosher salt, before anything goes in, and left to sit for at least  ten minutes to soak in then comes the fruit, a lemon, lime, or orange piece (you could use a piece, of apple, or pear, or kiwi for that matter but beware the meat will taste like what you put in, which I realized much later) should be squeezed on the bird and the remaining rind and pulp, put inside along with, some fresh herbs, and a quarter of onion, and a clove of garlic, smashed with a side of a knife, just give it a good whack, it feels good, tie the legs shut and your ready to do the outside! And thats easy, for this particular recipe, Olive Oil, Lemon, Kosher salt, Fresh Cracked Pepper, and Dried Thyme to cover well, as you baste some will come off. Tie the legs together, if you like, with pure cotton cooking string.
Bake  for 1 1/2 hours basting every half our or so.
Remove and let rest for at least 15 minutes.

Ginger Glazed Carrot’s:

7-8 med Carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch long pieces
Honey Bear
2 TBLS. Ground Ginger
3 TBLS, Butter
Salt to taste
Place Carrots in a shallow baking dish
Give a good squeeze, all over them with the honey bear , about 2-3 TBLS.
cut butter in to small pieces and place around the pan
sprinkle w/ ginger
and a little salt, you can re-taste later on
put in the oven 45 minutes into the timing of the chicken, stirring occasionally.

Garlicky Turnip Green’s:

In a lg Pot add:
4 cups water and 2 lg. bouillon cubes or 4 sm. Chicken Flavored or 4 cups Chicken Stock in a box or canned
4 cloves Garlic pressed or grated finely
2 lg.  Bunchs Turnip Greens, cleaned very well, and torn in to med sized pieces
Bring to a boil, turn on to simmer for 20 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
Fresh Black or Red Pepper Flakes to taste.

Skillet Thyme Potato’s:

1 lg. can Whole new Potato’s cut into 1/3 inch slices
1 TBLS. Olive Oil
2 TBLS. Butter
Salt And Pepper to Taste
a few sprigs of Fresh thyme, (save some out of the Fresh Poultry Herb Package)
In a lg Skillet, put Oil and Butter, and potato’s, season w/salt and pepper brown on both sides over med high heat
Add Fresh Thyme, and turn heat to lowest setting,cover but not tightly leave cracked for steam to escape.

And as always, Enjoy!!!
© Jennifer Green Alger 2010