Stay at Home Date: Wheeling Chef Shares Recipe For A Romantic Meal Melissa Rebholz February 11, 2022 Cooking is a love language. With Valentine’s Day approaching you may be considering making a romantic dinner at home for someone you love. In the past when I’ve wanted to impress someone I employed the “go big or go home” philosophy. I’ll never forget the time I wanted to wow my date so much that I decided it would be a good idea to bring live lobsters home and try to butcher and roast them in my closet-sized Brooklyn kitchen. As you might imagine, it was a disaster. As I’ve gotten older – and a little wiser, I hope – my personal culinary style has evolved. A special dinner cooked at home should be one that is relaxing and fun as well as tasty and beautiful. I chose brick chicken for Valentine’s Day because it’s a twist on one of my favorite comfort foods, roast chicken. I believe mastering a perfect version of a simple food you love that lets the ingredients shine is the first step in becoming a masterful home cook. I will serve this chicken alongside a roasted carrot and ginger bisque and seasonal salad. Make your life easier by picking up a fresh baguette and dessert from a local bakery and you’ve got an easy Valentine’s meal for a Monday night. The Main Course: Brick Chicken If you’ve not tried locally raised pastured chicken yet, why not use this as an opportunity to treat yourself? The Public Market sells chicken that is raised around the Ohio Valley by local farmers that far exceed the supermarket brands in flavor. WATCH: The Public Market and the Farmers Who Feed Wheeling If you’ve read my previous article on Thanksgiving turkey preparation, then you know I love a good brine. This chicken dish is no different in that you’ll want to start by brining your bird. Preparing the Brine Ingredients for the Brine: 1 gallon water 1 cup kosher salt ⅔ cup sugar 2 tablespoons black peppercorn 2 sprigs sage 2 sprigs rosemary 1 whole chicken (3-5 lbs.) Directions: Bring the water, salt, sugar, peppercorns and herbs to a low boil. Turn off the heat. Stir to make sure the salt and sugar completely dissolve. Let your brine cool completely to room temperature before moving on to the next step. In a large container, place the whole chicken and pour the cooled brine over the chicken to cover it, herbs and all. Cover and leave in the fridge up to 8 hours. Pro tips: You can brine your chicken overnight and take the chicken out of the brine in the morning and leave it in the fridge to dry. Alternatively, you can place the chicken in the brine the morning of the day you intend to cook and brine it during the day. If you brine the day of cooking, remove the chicken from the brine and let it dry out for a few hours before cooking. You can do this on a pan or plate with a roasting rack in your fridge. Cooking the Chicken: Supplies: 1 roasting pan or cast iron pan (prefered), large enough to hold the chicken split in two 1-2 standard bricks Aluminum foil, to wrap bricks Ingredients: 4 Tbsp. butter 2 Tbsp. minced garlic 2 Tbsp. rosemary 2 Tbsp. olive oil Coarse black pepper, to taste Directions: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Using kitchen shears or a very sharp knife, cut the chicken in half along the back bone. With the chicken split, breast side up, cut the butter into thin slices and shimmy some of the slices under the skin of the chicken, taking care not to rip the skin. Season the skin of the chicken liberally with black pepper, minced garlic and rosemary. Drizzle olive oil on the bottom of your roasting pan. Place the chicken, skin side down on the pan and place the foil-covered brick on top. You may want to use two bricks if you have an especially large chicken. Using the brick is all about increasing the surface area of the chicken in direct contact with the pan and applying a little pressure to that area to get a nice dark, crispy crust on the chicken. Cook your chicken in the oven for about 25 minutes. Remove the brick and check for crisp skin, you might have to go another 10 minutes if it’s not too crispy yet. When the skin side looks nice and crispy, flip the chicken and cook for another 10 minutes without the brick. Using a meat thermometer, check to see that the chicken is cooked internally to 165°F in the thickest part of the chicken. Remove chicken from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving. Side Dish: Roasted Carrot and Ginger Bisque Ingredients: 4 cups of carrots, cut into ½ inch thick round slices ½ tsp. garlic powder ½ tsp. paprika ½ tsp. salt ½ tsp. pepper 3 Tbsp. olive oil divided 1 medium onion, sliced thin 1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and minced 1 can full-fat coconut milk ¾ – 1.5 cup vegetable broth 1 sprig rosemary 1 lemon Chives, for garnish Directions: Preheat your oven to 375°F. Toss sliced carrot in a mixing bowl with garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Combine well. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the bowl and mix well. In a roasting pan or cast-iron skillet, place the carrots in the oven and roast until they can be easily pierced with a fork, about 25-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. When it’s hot but not smoking, add the onion. Stir the onion over medium heat to sweat, continue to cook until it’s translucent and add the minced ginger. Stir for a minute or two until the ginger is fragrant, taking care not to let it let burn. Add the roasted carrots, coconut milk and vegetable broth. You want the liquid to be about 2 inches over the vegetables. Add a sprig of rosemary and bring to a low simmer. Cover the pot and let simmer low for about 20 minutes. Remove the stem of the rosemary and blend the bisque with an immersion blender or food processor. Cut the lemon in half and add the juice from one half. Stir well to combine and add salt as needed to season. If the mixture is too thick a little warm water or vegetable broth can be added. Garnish with chives and serve hot. Will you be trying these recipes for Valentine’s Day? If so, let us know how it went by sharing your pictures on social media. Be sure to tag @Weelunk and @MidgesKitchenWheeling. Happy Valentine’s Day! 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