"Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme" Roasted Chicken

For some obscure reason I always have a song stuck in my head. Maybe because I am always listening to music whatever I am doing. I used to have speakers at my desk at work just to have music on in the background. Even if the TV is on in the living room one room away, I will turn on my iPod while cooking in the kitchen. I always have a radio station tuned while driving. Hell, I have the TV tuned to a music station as I type right this right now.

But listening to music has never been an inspiration in cooking for me. As in, I don't hear music and say,  "damn, that Frank Sinatra song inspired me to make a mean Bolognese sauce". If you are like me and actually pay attention to lyrics, you will understand most are written about love, sex, drugs, tangents, dreams (you get the point) - not, in fact FOOD. Only exception in my book would be Jimmy Buffet's "Cheeseburger in Paradise", and although the whole song is devoted to a time, place, and feeling about a cheeseburger, it never once has drawn me to either eat one or make one.

But last week, while driving to the supermarket, changing the radio channels as I always do, one extremely random yet specific line from Simon and Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair" played across the airwaves. The line: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme.

To be honest, I don't even like Simon and Garfunkel, let alone do I know any words to the song, even more I don't even know what the song means. Except I know that line.

But, I realized as familiar as I was with the line from the song and the herbs themselves, I hadn't, to my knowledge, ever cooked with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme all together at once. So, with "chicken" on my list of grocery items to pick up and a garden overflowing with the "fabulous four" team of herbs, I decided to make a lovely compound butter to rub under the skin and add a little lemon and shallot as well.

And for the first time, I turned to a song for culinary inspiration.


1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp sage, finely chopped
1 tbsp rosemary, finely chopped
1 tbsp thyme, finely chopped
1 small shallot, chopped
zest and juice of 1 lemon, separated
2 sticks (8 oz) butter, completely soft at room temperature
1 small roasting chicken (giblet package removed if included)
salt and pepper

special equipment: roasting rack (optional)

Parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, lemon zest, and shallot
Preheat oven to 425F.

In a bowl, combine parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, shallot, lemon zest, lemon juice, and butter using either a whisk or a plastic spatula (can also be done in a food processor). Blend until smoothly incorporated.

Compound butter using herbs, lemon zest, and shallot
Carefully run your fingers between the chicken skin and breast meat, separating the two from each other to create a pocket. Move your hands gently down toward the drumsticks, using the same technique. 

Using spoon, spatula, or hands, smear herb butter underneath skin, moving butter down to the drumsticks, making sure that the butter is evenly distributed on the chicken meat under the skin. Any left over butter can be lightly smeared on the top of the skin. Season generously with salt and pepper. (Place the excess lemon in the cavity of the chicken, and truss the chicken if you want but it isn't necessary).

Place the chicken on the roasting rack or straight into roasting pan and place in oven for 20 minutes, allowing the skin to slightly brown and crisp up. Turn down the oven heat to 350F and roast the chicken for 1 hr 15 mins or until thermometer inserted between the thigh and body of the chicken reads 160F. Remove chicken from oven and cover loosely with foil for 10 minutes to allow juices to settle. Serve as desired.

All in all, this chicken was simply divine. Easy enough for a weekday dinner, but even better as leftovers the next day.

Coca-Cola Braised Pork Shoulder

Coca-Cola Braised Pork Shoulder with Sauce and Creamy Chive Polenta

While cleaning out the refrigerator the other day, I came across a few cans of this:

As I am not a soda drinker, and as this stuff is rarely in our house, I thought best to put it to some culinary use rather than pour it down the drain. Also finding a few pieces of bacon in the fridge, I began thinking about the sweet yet "caramel-y" flavors that come from Coke and how they probably would balance really well with pork, evoking memories of the brown-sugar "candied" bacon I had made a while back. I immediately remembered a friend of mine telling me about her crock pot pork shoulder she makes using nothing more than a can of coke for the liquid. I found some chicken broth, bought some pork shoulder, and crossed my fingers that this would be a hit of a recipe.

AND I ended up with one of the best pork shoulder recipes I have ever tasted let alone created.Who would have thought - inspired by a soda.


3-4 # pork shoulder, boneless, cut into "baseball-sized" chunks
salt and pepper
2-3 slices bacon (or 2-3 tbsp olive oil)
2C chicken broth
3 cans coca-cola

Boneless pork shoulder

Pork shoulder cut into baseball size chunks, seasoned with salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350F

Heat a large cast iron "dutch oven" over medium heat, add bacon to pan and cook bacon, allowing fat to render out completely. When bacon is cooked, remove from pan (you do not need to do bacon step - can just heat olive oil listed above in ingredients).

Begin searing the pork in batches (2-3 pieces at a time) to brown evenly on each side; remove browned pork and set aside while browning off all pork.

Add chicken broth to pan, scraping up all bits on the bottom of the pan.

Add each can of coke slowly as the carbonation will make it bubble up pretty fast.

Add pork back to liquid, making sure that the liquid either completely covers or just barely covers the meat (add more chicken broth or coke if necessary). Bring liquid to a simmer, place lid on top of pot, and place in oven for about 3.5 to 4 hours, until the pork is extremely tender and easily shredded.

At this point, you can serve the pork in its whole shape or shred for any other use.


FOR BEST RESULTS: Turn heat off and allow pork and liquid to cool to room temperature. Store pork in refrigerator overnight in cooking liquid. When ready to serve, remove desired amount of pork from cooking liquid and place in baking vessel with a few spoonfuls of cooking liquid. Preheat oven to 350F and place pork in oven to heat through and create a "light crust", about 12-15 minutes. Serve with sauce.

That night, we devoured dinner. The slow braise left us with one of the finest, most tender, most moist and utterly delicious pieces of pork shoulder I had ever had. The sweetness from the soda permeated the meat, begging us to come back for bite after bite. Served with a drizzling of the sauce over a mound of polenta, we felt we were eating like king and queen for the night. And I owe it all to a lowly can of Coca Cola.