Honey-Mint Roast Chicken

We had both The Young One and The G Man last weekend, which meant lots of fun – lots of exhausting, non-stop fun.

My coup of the weekend was getting The G Man, whose idea of breakfast runs the gamut from oatmeal to pancakes (and little else), to eat bacon.  I can’t really take credit for that, though; it seems the boy has decided his uncle is the epitome of cool, and if The Young One was eating bacon, G was going to have some as well.

Scrambled eggs and liver are so on the menu the next time I’ve got both of them in my clutches.

At any rate, most of what I made over the weekend was pretty kid-friendly, including this delicious and easy chicken dish which was nommed with much enthusiasm (by my Big Boys, at least, since The G Man had already gone home).  The leftovers reheat well, too, but not in the microwave, or the skin will turn rubbery.

In the summer, this would be good on the grill.  You could also make it with boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but reduce the cooking time to about 20 minutes.

Honey-Mint Roast Chicken. Juicy chicken with crispy, mint-and-honey flavored skin, this is a wonderful week-night family main course.

Click the image to enlarge

Honey-Mint Roast Chicken
Serves: 4
  • 3 pounds chicken pieces (legs, wings, thighs)
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a large baking dish with aluminum foil.
  2. Sprinkle the chicken pieces liberally with salt and pepper; lay on the foil-lined pan and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, water, mint and zest. Brush the mixture on the chicken, coating the pieces completely.
  4. Roast for 45 minutes, basting the chicken with the drippings in the pan every 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear when pricked with the tines of a fork.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 368 calories, 14.9g total fat, 127.6mg cholesterol, 162.9mg sodium, 399mg potassium, 17.7g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 17.3g sugar, 39.7g protein

Mexican-Spiced Drumsticks

Saturday night we hosted my Young Diabetic Friend for dinner.  It wasn’t the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last – he’s been my “unofficial kid” for years.

Since he’s been controlling his diabetes with exercise (he’s been attending the local Crossfit box four days a week for the last 10 months) and a Steve Cooksey type diet (mostly meats and healthy fats with very small amounts of low carb vegetables), it gave me a bit of a challenge.  What could I make that he could eat and we’d all enjoy that was very low carb?

Well, I’ll tell you:  deviled eggs, guacamole, Pressure Cooker Spare Ribs minus the glaze and these: Mexican-Spiced Drumsticks.

It was a remarkably satisfying dinner – even The Young One was scarfing down deviled eggs, something I’d never seen him do before – and reminded me of how we ate when we first changed our diet.  We were never hungry back then; indeed, it took me until mid-morning the following day to become hungry at all after this dinner.  It’s had me thinking I should ratchet up our fat intake again, if for no other reason than it will go a long way to controlling our hunger.  I’ve gotten too complacent with my white potatoes and peas lately.

These drumsticks were just wonderful and we absolutely demolished them – The Young One ate four.  (Plus some ribs.  And deviled eggs.)  They’re spicy from the chipotle chili powder, but not unduly so, and the coconut sugar helped balance the flavors, but you can leave it out if you prefer.  It’s pretty low carb as written; 3 grams of carbohydrates with a gram of fiber per serving and if you leave it out the carbohydrate counts will be negligible, although you’ll miss a little of the depth of flavor it imparts.

And did I mention easy?  Yes, easy.  Rub those legs up and throw ’em in the oven for 45 minutes.  You could also grill them if you prefer.

Mexican-Spiced Drumsticks. Juicy roast chicken legs coated with a spicy Mexican dry rub.

Mexican-Spiced Drumsticks
Serves: 5
  • 2 pounds chicken drumsticks (about 10)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients except for the chicken in a small bowl. Rub the drumsticks with the spice mixture, covering each as completely as possible. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. Place the drumsticks in a single layer in a glass baking dish large enough to hold the chicken without the pieces touching. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the juices run clear when pierced with a fork.
  4. Allow to rest for 5 to 7 minutes before serving.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 308 calories, 16g total fat, 147mg cholesterol, 733.9mg sodium, 421mg potassium, 3.3g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 1.6g sugar, 35.4g protein

Honey Roasted Pork Belly

This came about as part of my recent effort to use up the “odder” bits in the freezer before we get our next side of beef in a couple of months and our next hog shortly afterwards.

If you’ve been hanging around here for any amount of time at all, you know that I love me some pork belly and some Asian food.  Recently I found the recipe for Char Siu – Chinese Barbecued Pork – on Foodgawker and was immediately smitten.  An Asian recipe for pork belly?  Count me in!

Of course, I tweaked the recipe to make it more suitable for my diet (I really need to learn to make my own hoisin sauce) but the recipe is essentially the same.  The biggest change is the marinade time – the original recipe calls for 2 to 3 hours, but it really should go for 4 or more.  I marinated mine for 8, and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it overnight.  It’s just going to make it all the more tasty.

In the interest of transparency, this was not Beloved or The Young One’s favorite pork belly recipe, although they certainly didn’t turn it down.  I, on the other hand, loved it and would gladly eat it again.

This is extremely rich, so I served it as an appetizer.

Honey Roasted Pork Belly. Sweet honey and exotic five-spice complement the rich meatiness of this excellent pork belly dish.

Honey Roasted Pork Belly
Serves: 4 to 6
  • 1 pound pork belly, skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the rice wine, tamari, coconut sugar, garlic powder and Chinese five-spice. Place the pork belly in a large, resealable plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Press out as much air as you can and seal the bag. Turn several times to coat the pork and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  3. Remove the pork belly from the plastic bag, allowing the excess marinade to drain off (discard the marinade); place the pork in an oven safe dish just large enough to hold it. Brush the top with one tablespoon of the honey.
  4. Roast the pork for about 45 minutes to an hour, turning it halfway through; brush with the remaining honey. The pork is done when the outsides begin to crisp and turn dark brown and the center of the meat feels firm.
  5. Remove the pork from oven and allow it to rest, loosely covered, for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut into slices; arrange on a platter and serve.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 243 calories, 20.1g total fat, 27.2mg cholesterol, 348.8mg sodium, 110mg potassium, 10g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 8.2g sugar, 4.5g protein

Honey-Lemon Roast Pheasant

Hello, everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, whether you celebrate Christmas or not.  We had a lovely time, and I received a new toy for the kitchen I’ll be using very, very soon – an 8-quart Fagor pressure cooker.  I’m thrilled with it; technically, you can cook with our pressure canner, but it’s so large that it’s not really practical.

Fair warning:  be on the lookout for recipes using a pressure cooker in the (very near) future.

Our Christmas dinner was small – just me and Beloved – but suitably celebratory.  The centerpiece of the meal was this dish.

I’d never had pheasant before, much less cooked it, but it’s no more difficult than roasting a chicken and the flavor is just out of this world – far richer than even a good pasture-raised chicken.  Brined for several hours and glazed with a mixture of fresh lemon juice, local honey and fresh thyme, it is simply outstanding.

This recipe is based on the excellent Glazed Roast Pheasant recipe from Hank Shaw of Hunter, Anger, Gardner, Cook.  If you don’t have a roasting pan with a rack, he gives instructions on how to build one with vegetables that can be eaten as a side dish.

Note:  Pheasants are not large birds, and the original recipe says it will serve 2.  While this recipe also serves 2, we did not eat all of it – there’s at least one more serving left.  Pheasant stir-fry, maybe?


Honey-Lemon Roast Pheasant

Serves: 2
  • 1 pheasant
  • 1/4 cup Kosher salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 lemon, halved and juiced
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 1 large sprig thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  1. Whisk together the salt and water in a small stock pot or other large, non-reactive container until the salt is dissolved. Place the pheasant in the brine and cover; refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Whisk together the lemon juice, honey and thyme in a small bowl until well-combined.
  3. Remove the pheasant from the brine and pat it dry. Allow it to rest on a cutting board while the oven heats, about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Stuff the cavity of the bird with the reserved lemon rinds and the sprig of thyme; sprinkle with the cayenne pepper. Place the bird breast side down on a rack in a roasting pan.
  5. Roast the pheasant for 15 minutes at 450 F, then decrease the heat to 375 F and roast for another 20 minutes. Turn the pheasant breast side up and baste with the honey/lemon mixture. Roast for another 30 to 40 minutes,
  6. basting the bird every 10 minutes, and taking care not to allow the glaze to burn.
  7. When the thigh of the pheasant reaches an internal temperature of 160 F, remove to a cutting board and tent loosely with foil. Allow it to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving and serving.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 412 calories, 17.5g total fat, 131.7mg cholesterol, 1030.1mg sodium, 532.1mg potassium, 20.5g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 18.1g sugar, 42.5g protein

Stuffed Pork Loin Roast

Beloved wanted me to call this recipe “Straw, Sticks and Bricks” and I’m sorry to disappoint him, because when you think about it, it’s really a clever name for the dish.  But I was afraid no one would ever find it if they looked for “bacon-wrapped, sausage-stuff pork loin roast,” because that’s really what this is.  And, I’m almost ashamed to admit, I got the idea from…Rachel Ray.

I guess even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and again.

Seriously, though – the minute I watched her make this Sunday morning, I knew I wanted to do a version of it as well.  While she stuffed hers with a mixture of onions, fennel and ground pork and wrapped it in prosciutto, I stuffed mine with some ground pork I flavored with fennel seed, thyme and sage (it came out tasting remarkably like sweet Italian sausage, so that’s what the recipe calls for) and wrapped it in ordinary  bacon.  When asked what I was making for dinner, I replied, “The three little pigs!”

Hence the suggestion to name it “Straw, Sticks and Bricks.”

To my non-pork-eating readers, I apologize.  To my pork loving readers, this was simple, and simply delicious.  Really, the hardest thing about it is butterflying, or roll cutting, the roast, and tying it up with the kitchen twine to keep the bacon in place, neither of which are particularly difficult.  Served with some homemade applesauce, this was very filling and surprisingly tasty.

There’s one thing I should mention, though:  when Ms. Ray prepared this, she said, “Throw it in the oven for an hour.”  Um, no – try closer to 3, which is why the cooking time is so ambiguous in the recipe itself.  Begin checking the temperature at an hour; if it takes longer, it takes longer.  And while I normally would cook a pork loin roast to an internal temp of 145 F, this should be cooked to 160 F, since few people find underdone sausage appealing.  Don’t worry about the pork loin drying out – that’s what the bacon is there for!  Well, beside the obvious reason of tasty, tasty bacon.  (If it doesn’t take as much time to roast as anticipated, this reheats beautifully after it’s been sliced.)

Note:  There was quite a bit of fat in the bottom of the roasting pan when I finally pulled it out of the oven, so the calorie and fat counts given in the recipe are overstated, by quite a bit, since my recipe software computed them based on the raw ingredients.

Stuffed Pork Loin Roast

Stuffed Pork Loin Roast

Serves: 8
  • 2 pound pork loin roast
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 8 ounces bacon
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Lay the pork loin on a cutting board, with short end facing you. Holding the knife parallel to work surface and beginning along one long side, cut about 1/2″ above underside of roast. Continue slicing inward, pulling back the meat with your free hand and unrolling the roast like a carpet. Continue cutting and rolling the roast until it lays more or less flat in front of you. Cover the surface of the meat with wax paper and gently pound it with the flat end of a meat mallet until it is a uniform thickness.
  3. Sprinkle the surface of the meat lightly with salt and pepper, then spread the Italian sausage over the surface, leaving about a half-inch bare at the edges. Gently roll the roast up and set it on the cutting board, seam-down.
  4. Lay half the bacon strips flat on the cutting board, side by side, and carefully set the roast, again seam-down, on top of them. Lay the remaining bacon on top of the roast, then tie the entire package up with 4 or 5 pieces of kitchen twine, effectively wrapping the roast in the bacon.
  5. Place the wrapped roast on the rack of a roasting pan and place in the oven. Roast until the internal temperature of the roast reaches 160 F; this could take anywhere between 1 and 2 1/2 hours. Remove the roast from the oven and tent loosely with aluminum foil; allow it to rest at least 20 minutes before slicing.
  6. Serve with applesauce or a good chutney, if desired.
  7. Nutrition (per serving): 551 calories, 44.8g total fat, 133.8mg cholesterol, 707.3mg sodium, 606.1mg potassium, <1g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, 0g sugar, 33.8g protein