Valentine’s Day is tomorrow! What are you doing with your significant other for dinner? While it seems like most people like to go out on Valentine’s night—I always like to stay in and make a special dinner for my sweetie. There is nothing more romantic than dinner and a bottle of wine at home by the fireplace. Skip the hoopla of a crowded restaurant on a greeting card holiday and make a fresh, healthy meal that tastes as good as it feels special.
Here’s my Valentine’s Menu:
Last week I hosted a dinner party for my mom’s birthday (check out the cheese platter and table arrangement HERE). I decided to roast two chickens and while the thermometer read 160 degrees, when I started to carve them in front of all my guests, so proud of what I had made, one slice in revealed a bloody chicken! Devastating. We finally realized that I had roasted them upside down (breast down). Even putting them back in the oven did not get them done fast enough for dinner. Luckily, I had made a ridiculous amount of food (including a pasta dish) so I had enough for everyone to eat without the chickens. You have to MAKE IT WORK people!
I think my family LOVED seeing me squirm and were strangely excited to witness a very uncharacteristic “FAIL.” We all have them—you just hope it’s not when your dining room is full of eight hungry people!
I am not one to be defeated though so last night I tried again. Luckily Jacobs was the only hungry person in my dining room so the stakes were not quite as high. Success—a perfectly roasted chicken! Right-side up and all! I already texted my family the proof …
A roasted chicken makes a beautiful dinner for two (with some great leftovers). Perfect for a Valentine’s dinner:
3 tablespoons packed Brown Sugar
2 quarts Cold Water
1 3-pound Chicken
2 cloves Garlic (minced)
2 teaspoons freshly grated Lemon Zest
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh Thyme leaves
3 tablespoons Butter at room temperature (plus 2 tablespoons cold Butter)
1 Lemon (cut in half)
1 cup Dry White Wine
freshly ground Black Pepper
Stir 1/3 cup salt and the sugar into the water until they dissolve. Place the chicken in a large resealable plastic bag and pour the brine over. Seal tightly and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 9 hours.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a small bowl, mix the garlic, lemon zest, and thyme into the softened butter. Gently loosen the skin covering the breast and legs. Work the seasoned butter under the skin so that the butter covers the breast meat and thighs (being careful not to tear the skin). Squeeze the lemon halves inside the cavity, then place the lemon halves inside. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine and push the wings behind the neck.
Place the chicken breast-side-up on a rack in a metal roasting pan (this is important—this is why my first round didn’t cook correctly). Roast until the juices run clear when the bird is pierced with a knife, about 1 hour (internal temp reaches 160 degrees).
Remove the chicken and the rack from the roasting pan. Set the pan over a burner on medium heat. Add the wine and cook, stirring and scraping the browned bits from the pan. Cook for a second, then remove from the heat. Add the cold butter and stir until incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with the chicken, carving the chicken on a cutting board or serving platter just before serving.
A beautiful side dish to go with the chicken are these Zucchini Rollatinis (recipe HERE). Zucchini, mozzarella, prosciutto and basil beautifully wrapped and cooked in tomato marinara. Speaks to my heart.
Ahhh … you knew I would throw them in. Popovers. POPOVERS! Love.
And for dessert—maybe the most important part of a Valentine’s dinner … chocolate molten lava cakes (recipe HERE). They are incredibly decadent and fancy (although easy to make). The key is to not over bake them. You want to pull them out of the oven before they are “done” so you get that runny chocolate center that bursts out when you dive in for your first bite. Served with vanilla ice cream and raspberries makes them irresistible.
And the cherry on top (sorry, couldn’t resist), chocolate covered strawberries and cherries. It is Valentine’s Day.