Roasted Beer Brined Chicken Legs over Grilled Corn Puree and English Pea Herb Salad
I met a 70-year-old woman at a bar in a tiny town in the backwoods of Northern California last week, she was tying to set me up with her friend Chad. Chad is no longer in possession of his teeth and had a very relaxed relationship with hygiene. Flattered as I was I had to decline.
The town was started during the gold rush, the small mountain community was so off the grid that the bars never shut down during prohibition, and since then the population hasn’t grown over 4,000 people. Evelyn moved there a few years ago, drawn to the place by the idea of spending her retirement as a bartender. Feist and happy, she served the locals on one side of the bar, and then grabbed a glass of Chardonnay and chatted them up from the other side once her shift was over. I clearly wasn’t from around there, I was just passing through for the night, she instantly struck up a conversation with me.
I asked her why she decided to leave the South to move West and serve booze to a rowdy crowd of men half her age. She laughed, “This is the best job I’ve ever had!” She told me about her years as a secretary, raising babies, paying bills, wearing heels. That was a life she made for other people, this life, this was just for her. Sure, she can make more money doing something else, sure her feet get tired at the end of the day, but she has another way to look at it. “You can’t take any of that with you, all you have is what you leave behind. And everyday I make someone smile, and that’s what I leave.”
I like her. Although her taste in men is still somewhat questionable.
- 4 chicken legs
- 1 tbs salt
- 1 tsp all spice berries
- 1 cup very hot water
- 12 ounces brown ale
- 1/2 cup ice
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 4 ears corn
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- !For the peas:
- ½ lbs fresh English peas, shelled
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp chopped fresh basil
- 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tsp chopped fresh chive
- Add the chicken legs to a large bowl or baking dish.
- In a bowl combine the salt, all spice, and hot water, stir to dissolve. Add the beer, and ice, stir until ice has melted and the brine is room temperature or below. Pour over chicken, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours and up to 12.
- Remove from brine, rinse well and pat dry.
- Preheat oven to 450.
- Place the chicken on a baking sheet, sprinkle with pepper.
- Roast until skin is golden brown, juices run clear and the internal temperature of the chicken is 170F, 30-40 minutes.
- Grill the corn until grill marks appear on all sides. Cut the kernels off the corn.
- Add the corn kernels, cream, paprika, salt, and pepper to a blender or food processor, process until fairly smooth.
- Bring a pot of lightly salted water to boil, prepare a smaller bowl with ice water.
- Add the peas to boiling water, boil for 2 minutes, then drain and immediately plunge into the ice water to stop the cooking.
- Add the peas to a bowl along with the olive oil, balsamic, basil, oregano, and chives, toss to combine, salt and pepper to taste.
- Plate the corn puree, and then chicken and peas.