Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night from a very deep sleep with a idea for a dish. I don’t even have to write it down; it just becomes a part of my subconscious mind and is there clear as a bell when I awake in the morning. Things are a whirlwind when they first form and then they settle in like sitting in front of a crackling fireplace reading a cookbook or spending time with the ones you love. Basking in the love of the art itself, of creativity and the ability to touch people’s utmost senses makes my little heart go pitter-patter. How this process occurs I do not know, but long before I was inspired to start this endeavor, Jenni’s Dish, it has kept me cooking up, and now writing up, spectacular dishes . . . and nothing in the world makes me happier than sharing them with you, my loyal followers!!

Occasionally the initial idea for a recipe is sparked by a dish prepared by someone else–which I might just take in a very different direction. A great recent example: I was in Las Vegas for my niece’s 21st B-Day Bash, and when I say bash I’m talking about absolutely the best of everything. You may recall I did a post about our dinner at Rao’s Restaurant there. Now, one of the dishes at that meal had me “reelin’ in the years/stowin’ away the thyme” (so to speak). To say it was great would be the understatement of the decade! It was a sweet and savory tortellini, the “sweet” coming from pear and cranberries, and the “savory”–well, I wasn’t sure at first, but I thought, “How great would it be to have a whole roasted chicken with these flavors infused by stuffing them in the cavity, and mixed with roasted veggies in the same pan as the chicken!” So I figured it out as I went along, adding herbs and spices to the mixture of carrots, baby red potatoes, pear, apple and cranberry until I had the perfect combo.
I made this last night for my family, whom I love and adore, and the looks on there faces were enough to tell me this was a red carpet, Oscar-worthy, People Magazine winner. The category? Best Dressed Chicken!!!


The Brine: Brining a chicken makes it very tender,and flavorful, I started with a 4-5 lb. whole organic bird from, Whole Foods, of course, my favorite place to be besides my kitchen. In a large stock pot or big enough to cover bird completely.
1/2 cup Kosher Salt
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
12 whole peppercorns
1 bouquet garni, which later I would reserve and place inside the chicken.
1/2 a lemon squeezed and dropped in
Use a little hot water to dissolve the salt and sugar, wash the bird and remove and retain the giblets in a separate container. Place the bird in the pot and fill the rest of the way with cool water, cover and refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours. I only had 4 hours and it was fine.
Remove chicken and rinse lightly with cool water, dry inside and out completely, and let air dry while you gather the rest of your ingredients.

Preheat oven to 400ºF Have ready a large baking pan.

The Spice mixture should be made in a separate bowl to avoid cross contamination, when working with poultry.
Spice Mixture:
1 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Lawry’s Season salt
1 tsp. Adobo Seasoning
1 tsp. Paprika
1 tsp Kosher salt
Several turns of Fresh Ground Pepper
1 1/2 TBLS Fresh thyme chopped fine
Mix together well and set aside.

The chicken cavity now needs to be seasoned and filled:
Olive Oil to coat evenly inside and out,
Kosher salt and Fresh Black pepper go in cavity first.
Then stuff cavity with a mixture of,
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 med chopped pear
1/2 med chopped apple
1/2 med chopped small sweet onion
3-4 cloves garlic peeled and whole
6 sprigs of Fresh Thyme
the reserved Bouquet Garni from brine.

The Vegis and Fruit:
Layer a large foil covered baking dish with baby Carrots to almost cover bottom
place the giblets, liver heart neck and gizzards in all four corners
Then use the rest of the diced pear and apple, sprinkling over carrots and giblets
add 1/2-3/4 cup dried cranberries and 
6 sprigs of Thyme, pushing the cranberries and thyme into the mixture of vegis, top with around the sides and under wings 10-12 baby new red potatoes cleaned and partially peeled. See Pic.

The Bird:
Place Chicken in the middle of all this and season with spice mixture everywhere( including under the skin of the breast), do this carefully as to not rip the skin. Cover every inch of bird under wings and in creases of legs. before tying.
Sprinkle vegis with olive oil and spice mixture, adding a little more Paprika at the end of the seasoning process for good color.
Tie the legs together crossed, there’s no real reason to fully truss this chicken, as it is being cradled by the vegis and fruit.
Bake for 90 minutes for a 4-5 lb. bird, Basting every 1/2 hour, if it starts to brown to quickly, after about 40 minutes cover with foil loosely and then pull off for last 10-15 minutes.
The fruit will kind of soften and release juices along with the chicken juices, making the cranberries soft and imparting a glorious flavor.
Remove from oven, and as always let rest for 15 minutes for the juices to redistribute, before cutting!!! Remember to pull out the twigs from the thyme sprigs.
Cut the chicken on the platter and serve.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts: 
1-2 lbs Baby Brussel Sprouts, outside leaves removed
Coat lightly with Olive Oil
Kosher salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Grated or ground nutmeg to taste and
1 TBLS. Brown sugar
Toss to coat and place on a baking sheet in oven for the fifteen minutes the Chicken is resting.

Serve with another vegi of choice we did steamed Green Beans w/ a drizzle of olive oil and kosher salt.

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