The rain has come back for a few days at least. Just a little drizzle here and there. But, when the weather is less than perfect it's time to "nest" and make a few comfort foods.
Sylvia Jurys runs her cooking school "Wine and Thyme" from her home on Lake Okanagan. For each cooking class I attend over the years, I come away with a few special dishes that I duplicate for my friends and family This chicken was truly one of the most succulent dishes imaginable and definitely worth duplicating for those special dinners. Preserved lemons are easy to prepare but must be made up to 3 days before preparing this dish ( or simply purchase store bought versions). The brining produces a juicier and more flavourful chicken.... but does require a 6 hour wait time. If you are not in a hurry this dish is well worth the wait to impress your company!
Photo taken from Knox Mountain at dusk looking towards Okanagan Centre on Lake Okanagan, British Columbia. It was taken on the same evening as my header, but, at an earlier time in the sunset.
**Brined Roasted Chicken with Preserved Lemons**
- 2 each chickens, approximately 2-1/2 - 3 lbs.
- Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 teaspoon thyme leaves, chopped
- Fleur de sel
- Preserved Lemons (recipe below)
- 4 litres water
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup honey
- 12 bay leaves
- 8 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 3 rosemary sprigs, large
- bunch thyme leaves
- bunch Italian parsley
- grated zest and juice of 2 large lemons
1. Prepare the brine the day before and cool. Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Boil 1 minute to dissolve the salt. Remove from the heat and cool completely before using.
3. Preheat the oven to 425F. Remove the chickens from the brine (discard the brine), remove the wing tip and "finger". Rinse the chickens well in cold water and pat dry with paper towel. Season the inside with a sprinkling of kosher salt and pepper. Put one preserved lemon into each cavity and truss the chicken.
4. To truss the chicken; place the chicken on a tray with the legs towards you. Tuck the wings under the bird. Cut a piece of chicken twine about 3 feet long and centre it on top of the neck end of the breast. Lift the neck end of the bird and pull twine down around the wings and under the chicken, then bring the ends up over the breast towards you and knot the twine, pulling it tight to plump the breast. Bring the ends of the twine around the drumsticks and straight up. Tie as before and pull the drumsticks together to form a compact bird; tie again to secure knot. Let the chickens sit for 30 minutes before roasting.
5. Place a roasting pan on high heat. When hot, add the canola oil and heat until hot. Put the birds, breast side up in the pan, with the legs facing the back of the oven. Roast for 40 minutes. Check the birds every 15 minutes and rotate the pan if the birds are crowning unevenly. After 40 minutes check the temperature of the birds with an instant-read thermometer between the leg and thigh. The temperature should read 155F (The chicken will continue to cook as it rests, reaching a temperature of 165F). When the birds are done, remove from the oven, add the thyme leaves to the roasting pan and baste the birds several times with the thyme and juices.
6. To serve, cut each chicken into 8 pieces. Sprinkle with fleur de sel.
Serves 10 - 12
Cut the ends of each lemon so that it can stand up without tipping. Slice each lemon crosswise into paper-thin slices, keeping the slices together because the slices will be reformed. Remove any seeds. Reform each lemon. lay the bottom slice on a work surface and sprinkle with a light dusting of salt. Top with the next slice of lemon and a light dusting of sugar. Continue alternating the slices with layers of salt and sugar. When all the lemons are reformed stand them upright in a snug fitting container. Place in refrigerator for 24 hours. Pour enough olive oil into a container to cover the lemons and return to the refrigerator for 3 days. Drain the oil and reserve for other uses. The lemons may be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks or may be frozen for longer storage.
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