Yesterday morning I woke up to a bright blue sky streaked with pinks and oranges. The sounds of birds singing and cats purring, along with Dixon snuggling my knees, made my heart feel as warm as the sunshine falling through the open window. It motivated me to get outside, get my hands in the dirt, and spruce up our lawn a bit. We picked up wind blown branches, poured a few bags of red gravel around the side sunroom steps, finished/repaired trim, and gave the grass its first cut of the season. While cleaning up debris from last season’s potting soil, I serendipitously discovered the asparagus I thought didn’t make it had actually survived and seven stalks of purple green shoots were determinedly pushing up towards the sun. I did a little happy dance on the deck and felt invigorated again about gardening. We also let Dixon pull us around the neighborhood a bit, ran a few errands, replaced our battered and bruised mailbox, and then wrapped up the day’s maintenance with an early evening of wine around the fire pit.
However, this dish was tumbling in the back of my mind all day, like Bad Romance, and, as much as I enjoyed the feeling of pride and accomplishment from tending to the lawn, I couldn’t wait to start cooking dinner! At 4:30pm I grabbed my injector off the top pantry shelf, a bulb of black garlic, maple syrup, garlic butter and basil pesto out of the fridge then bounced about my kitchen prepping this fantastic meal. After sharing such a gorgeous day outdoors together, I was determined to convey all the love and gratitude I felt by executing an exceptional dinner, and I did not disappoint! The chicken was a succulent sweet umami explosion, the braised shallot au jus the perfect symphony of juicy caramelized sauce, the polenta a luscious bed of tangy comfort, and the crispy, lemony kale added tantalizing texture. I am very pleased with my results, and, since it’s already been requested again, I better wrap up this foodie novella and get busy typing out this recipe already!
I am super stoked to announce that I recently accepted a Crew position with a brand new Trader Joe’s opening near me! So, brace yourselves for an onslaught of TJ inspired recipes!
1 whole chicken
1 bulb black garlic, skin removed and discarded
1/4 cup Trees Knees Spicy Maple Syrup
2 tbsp garlic butter
2 tbsp salted butter
3 tbsp basil pesto
3 extra large shallots, trimmed, skin discarded, and chunky sliced
1 cup polenta
3 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup Fage whole milk sour cream
1/4 cup shredded Tillamook cheddar
3 cups rainbow kale, trimmed and rough chopped
1 – 2 tbsp lavender lemon pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste
Special Equipment: meat injector
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
In a prep bowl, mash the black garlic cloves in the maple syrup until a slightly smooth paste is formed. Taste then salt and pepper as needed. Set aside.
Place the whole chicken on a clean surface and lightly salt and pepper it all over including inside the cavity.
Prepare the injector by assembling it per the instructions then microwave the garlic butter, salted butter, and pesto together in a heat safe dish until just melted, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Allow to cool slightly then inject the seasoned butter into each breast and chicken leg. Next, slather the chicken in the black garlic maple syrup until evenly coated. Set aside.
To a roasting pan, add the chunks of scallion, drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place the chicken on top of the seasoned shallots. Transfer to the oven uncovered and roast about 45 minutes. Tint the chicken with the roast pan lid or foil, reduce the oven temp to 300 degrees, and continue roasting an additional 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until an internal temperature of 161 degrees is reached. Remove the roast pan from the oven and place the chicken on a clean surface. Loosely tint the chicken with foil or a clean kitchen towel and allow to rest at least 15 minutes to bring it up to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees.
Preheat the oven to 350 degress
While the chicken rests, add the chopped kale to a sheet pan and massage it with 1 tbsp olive oil, lavender lemon pepper, and a good pinch of salt. Roast in a 350 degree oven until just crispy, about 15 to 20 minutes. Once the kale is crispy, turn off the oven and set the kale aside.
Once the chicken has rested, carve it into serving portions then taste the braised shallot au jus and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
Lastly, bring 3 cups of chicken stock up to a boil over med high flame. Stir in the polenta and cook per package directions whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Once the polenta is tender and has thickened slightly, turn off the flame, add in the sour cream and cheddar while continuously whisking until well incorporated. Taste and add salt and black pepper as needed. To serve, divide the polenta into bowls, ladle over the polenta a generous amount of the shallot au jus, top with the chicken and crispy kale. Serve immediately.
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