Easy Jamaican Cornish Game Hens

from: Jamey Bennett
to: Daniel Larkin

Hey Daniel,

I wasn’t going to make a post about this, since I didn’t do much except throw a few things together, but the result was so outstanding, and the ingredients are readily available at many grocery stores, that I thought it was worth sharing. I got all my ingredients at Whole Foods, except for the game hens (though I did seek out cage-free hens).

  • 2 Hens
  • 1 Bottle Jamaican Jerk sauce (like this)
  • 1 Bottle Carribbean-style hot sauce (this one is awesome)
  • 1 8.5 oz package of Seeds of Change Carribbean-style rice and red beans (or similar – SOC is organic, and it only needs to be heated)
  • A small amount of bell pepper, onion, and mushroom slices (or whatever you’d like)
  • Butter

The night before, I brushed the jerk sauce all over the hens, covered them and put them in the fridge.

When I was ready to eat, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees. While that was heating, I sauteed the veggies in butter. When they were about done, I added the rice mix and stirred for about 60 more seconds. I took that mix, and stuffed the birds silly. It was just about the perfect amount of stuffing. Next, I brushed melted butter all over the outside of the birds, put them in a covered dish in the oven. After 30 minutes, I removed the cover and stuck a meat thermometer in the breast. (I think most say you’re supposed to do the thigh, but their thighs are so tiny.) About every 10 to 15 minutes, I got in the oven and re-brushed the butter and jerk sauce (that was in the bottom of the pan) over the birds. I think it was about 40 minutes later that they were ready. Doesn’t really matter, though, if you watch the thermometer, and brushing is the perfect opportunity. (165 degrees.)

Once I pulled them out, I carefully put them each on a plate, and drizzled the jerk sauce – now a gravy – over the tops of the birds. I served with a bowl of the hot sauce as a dipping sauce. That fruity spicy sauce was a delight! We both devoured our own hens, even after a salad. There were leftover rice and beans and veggies, but I’m going to let them soak up the gravy goodness and have it as leftovers.

Now the little carcasses are on the stove making broth! Easy, delicious, and effective.

jamey

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Squash Stuffing, Roast Chicken and Chicken Soup

from Daniel Larkin 4:39 PM (16 hours ago)
to Jamey Bennett

What’s up, dude?  How’s the double shift lifestyle been treating you?  Work seems to be picking up, as long as the engineers can stay on top of the scheduling.  I’m hopeful that a five day work week is around the corner, so fingers crossed.

In food news, though, I’m officially obsessed with roasting chickens.  Being married to a vegetarian, I don’t come across too many occasions to cook a whole bird, but I got a wild urge to roast one last week and followed through.  When I get into the mood for chicken, it’s usually accompanied by a craving for stuffing.  I’ve adapted a pretty solid vegetarian stovetop stuffing recipe so Jenny can jam on it too.  We had a regular Thanksgiving.

So in order of everything, here’s a quick rundown of the stuffing.

Stuffing

For the bread, I raided the freezer and ended up with about 6 hoagie rolls (white, wheat and sesame) and two hamburger buns.  I cut them into cubes between 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch, and toasted them in the oven at 250º until they were nice and dry.
Other ingredients are

  • Handful of walnuts
  • 1/2 butternut squash
  • Real maple syrup
  • Half a large yellow onion
  • One rib of celery
  • One medium carrot, or about 8 baby carrots
  • Garlic
  • Vegetable stock
  • Fresh rosemary, thyme and sage

I cut a butternut squash in half, peeled the solid top, and cut it into 1/4-inch thick slices.  (I stopped about an inch short of the stem) I brushed the slices with real maple syrup, sprinkled on salt and pepper, and then roasted them at 450º until they were cooked but still firm.  When the slices were cool enough, I cut them into 1/4-inch cubes.  Immediately after I pulled the squash from the oven, I threw a handful of chopped walnuts into the oven on a separate pan and roasted these for a few minutes.

In buttered pan, I sauteed the chopped onion, chopped celery, chopped baby carrots, and three cloves of garlic minced.  I also included about a 6-inch sprig of fresh rosemary, about five 4-inch sprigs of thyme, and three sage leaves, all chopped finely.  Oh yeah, and salt and pepper.

When all of this looked about done, I added the roasted walnuts, the par cooked squash cubes, a little more butter and a light drizzle of male syrup.  I sauteed this for another minute and pulled it off to cool.

Then in a large stock pot, I combined the dried bread cubes and vegetable mix – tossing by hand until everything was mixed.  When it was time to cook, I slowly heated the pot on the stove and gradually added vegetable stock until I found the right consistency.  The key is to go slowly, because you can alway add more liquid, but you can’t remove it without cooking the whole thing to mush.

But it’s chicken time.

I would be willing to bet that my approach to roasting a chicken is similar to yours.  Buy a good bird, and just don’t screw it up with a bunch of extras.

All I did was wash it, drizzle the skin and cavity with olive oil, salt and pepper, and stuffed it with a few sprigs of thyme, rosemary and a few sage leaves.  I also cut a lemon in half, squeezed some juice on the skin, and then stuffed the two halves in the cavity, with the larger end plugging the bird’s ass.  I roasted the chicken in a disposable aluminum pan for 105 minutes without once basting it.  It was seriously the most moist white meat I’ve ever eaten, and the hint of lemon and herbs was fantastic!

Hold on, now there’s soup!

I collected all the extra fat and liquids from the roasting pan and put them in a large metal container.  I quartered the bird and put the main carriage (skeleton) in with the juices, lemon and herbs and set this all in the fridge.  I ate on the chicken for four days, and every time I would finish a quarter, I would toss the bones and extra meat in with the carriage and juices.

A few days after finishing the chicken, I removed as much meat as I could from the carcass and bones and set it aside on a plate. I put the bones in a two quart pot topped off with water; then I began the boil.  I also included half of the lemon in the mix, but I took out a lot of the herbs.  When I had lost roughly 1/3 of the liquid to evaporation, I added about 8 oz of homebrewed ESB and kept boiling.  (I’ve made similar soup using A LOT more homebrew, but I was running low this time.)

I salted the stock lightly and tasted often.  When I had the flavor I was looking for, I strained off the liquid and picked off whatever meat had separated during the boil.  Then I threw the bones away.  Since I had just strained the liquid into a separate jar, I used the two quart pot to sauté some carrots, celery and onion in butter.  When the veggies were almost done, I added all of the meat into the mix and cooked it a bit more.  Then I just added the stock back in and simmered everything for about 10 more minutes.

Jamey, this might have been the best soup I’ve had in years.  The light lemon flavor and the fat of the olive oil and butter were a perfect match.  The chicken meat was tender, and I could have drank the broth all day.

It’s a long email, I know.  But next time you roast a chicken, this is a guaranteed way to perfect soup.  My initial plan was to add noodles, but I never missed them.  Who needs chicken noodle soup when chicken soup is better?

Fried Foods! Yay!

Daniel Larkin to jamey
10:57 AM 

So I sent you pictures of our Bar Food Friday last weekend, but I wanted to share the goods.  The chicken nachos were decent; we made them using my veggie taco recipe with real chicken.  We started drinking before cooking, so we were a little rosy by the time we got to the cheese, and it ended up more like a Mexican mozzarella than queso fresco. But I’m not really writing you about the nachos.  You know how to do nachos.  What I’m talking about are the fried pickles.

October is over, so I’m assuming you can splurge on some good old fashion horrible-for-you food.  I use this batter for just about everything fried – chicken, onions, pickles, etc. – and it’s never let me down.  I actually learned the recipe from a popular bar I worked at in Charlotte named The Penguin.

The batter is simple, though my recipe may not be 100% accurate, since I’ve never measured my spices.  Ever.  I actually taste as I go, mostly checking salt and heat levels.  (I know some people have an aversion to tasting raw flour, but it’s the only way I’ve been able to get it spot on every time.)  Consequently, all of my measurements here are guesses, and you can add/subtract to it as you see fit.

  • Two cups of flour
  • 2 tbs. garlic powder
  • 1 tbs. chili powder – maybe more
  • 1 tbs. red pepper – maybe less
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tbs. cayenne pepper
  • A few grinds of fresh black pepper
  • Enough Lawry’s Seasoning Salt to cast a thin red layer on the top of the mixture.

Mix ingredients, insert a wet fork, and taste.  Again, I taste for salt and heat.  You want to taste the salt, but the heat needs to be background noise.  You don’t want it too spicy.

That’s the best I can describe the recipe.

Frying onions and pickles are essentially the same.  Chicken isn’t even that much different either.  The key to all is small batches.  You don’t want to drop the temperature of the oil too quickly, and you don’t want the items to stick together when they’re in the oil.

For onion straws, slice a sweet onion thin (I use my julienne slicer for thin uniform cuts) and soak it in buttermilk.  When it’s time to fry, just pull a small handful of onions out of the milk, dredge them in the batter, shake off the excess batter, and drop them into a pot of your favorite frying oil.  They’re done when they’re a light golden brown.  These onion straws make any burger 100x better.  Seriously.

For pickles, buy a jar of dill pickle chips and pour out the juice and replace it with buttermilk.  (I know this sounds gross, but it’s fine.  Buttermilk is curdled to begin with.)  When it’s time to fry, pull out a small handful of chips and shake off some, but not all, of the extra milk.  Toss the pickles in the batter mix to fully coat them.  Next, pull the chips out of the batter and shake them around in a sifter over the remaining batter.  This breaks up any globs of flour, and prevents the chips from sticking to each other in the oil.  Toss them in the oil, and they’re done when they float to the top with a golden brown color.  Serve in a bowl lined with paper towels, and have some Ranch dressing on hand to dip them in.  Oh, and prepare to be in heaven.

For chicken, I cut my breast meat into thin slices and soak them in a mix of buttermilk, one egg, and a few splashes of Texas Pete hot sauce.  Aside from the extra wet ingredients, the only thing I do differently with chicken is to double batter it.  Soak, toss, soak, toss, fry.  It gives it that supreme crunch that chicken tenders need.

I hope this all makes sense.  It’s an easy recipe, and it kills me how good it is every time I try it.  The pickles are especially gratifying, since no one outside of The Penguin can seem to make a decent fried pickle.

Agave Lemon Beer Butt Chicken – with BACON

Every year, if we’re all together, my (Jamey) family has a beer butt chicken cook-off around Christmas or New Years. This is what I did in 2010, and it was awesome. Daniel asked what I did…and here’s my response.

from Jamey W. Bennett
to Daniel Larkin

Okay, here it is.

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 beer butt stand (you can get these at Walmart or online)
  • 1/2 beer in a can (you can use a soda can & fill it up with homebrew or whatever)
  • Lemon pepper seasoning (the one I used was fancy, and included a lot of goodies like garlic powder and salt and such – in other words, just find one that sounds awesome)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • Agave nectar (you can get this in the honey section)
  • 1 pack of bacon (12 oz or 16 oz, you choose)
  • 2 lemons
  • Toothpicks

Thaw the chicken, separate the skin from the front and the back of the chicken carefully. There may be sections that will be difficult to separate, so I just took a knife and made little slits in the skin, and put my finger in their to separate it a bit.

Squeeze bits of the butter in between the skin and the meat all over the chicken. I didn’t quite use the whole stick, but pretty close.

At this point, it may be a good time to put the chicken on the stand for decoration purposes, but don’t put the beer in yet. Sprinkle the outside with the lemon pepper, and load your hand up with lemon pepper and work it into the meat, between the meat and skin.

Cut one of the lemons and squeeze the juice all over the bird, and even inside if you wish.

Use the agave nectar and squeeze it between the meat and skin, and then do a few circles on the outside of the bird (it will slowly run down your chicken.

Now wrap that shit in bacon, and use toothpicks where necessary to keep the bacon in place. Glaze the bacon with the agave. Now let it sit for awhile for the flavors to soak in.

Pull the stand out, put the beer can in the stand, then stick it back in. I threw a few bits of red onion inside the can, as well as some lemon peel, but I have no way of knowing if this did anything. Sounded good to me, though. Oh and I put a bit of soy sauce in the beer too, but that was an impulse. Also, I used a Bavarian-style hefeweizen in keeping with the lemon fruitiness theme. But I bet even Coors would make a mean bird.

Slice into the other lemon a bit so that the meat of it is exposed and shove it into the top of the bird where the neck used to be. This will keep the beer goodness locked inside the bird, and will hopefully allow lemon juice to drip into your bird, making it moist and delicious.

Grill or bake upright (thanks to the stand). We grilled for about an hour. It pretty much requires your attention the whole time (keeping the grill shut as much as possible), but especially because of the butter and bacon – you will have flare ups.

Use a meat thermometer and pull off when it’s 170-180 in the thigh. Remove it from the stand (this is tricky and may require several tools and people), remove the lemon, get the toothpicks out of it, carve, and enjoy.

This kicks ass. I’d like to figure out how to make it a little more lemony if possible. Oh, and drink a few beers when you cook it. I almost forgot that.

Laterz,
Jamey

from Daniel Larkin
to jamey w. bennett

Oh shit.  I think I just peed a little bit reading that.  You know its a quality recipe when it has the three-B’s of awesomeness – bacon, butter and beer.  I’ve never heard of a beer-butt can cooker, but that looks genius.  I will definitely have to try this.  Thanks!

from Jamey W. Bennett
to Daniel Larkin

They are awesome.

Here’s a standard type: http://amzn.com/B000XE63M2

And here is a fancy one, looks like no BPA. http://amzn.com/B0007ZGUK2