Twine Swine. It may be the perfect gift. You can hand it to your friend, and in your best Shakespearian theatrical style, loudly proclaim, “The Twine Swine be Thine!” as you thrust your arm skyward. Yeah, I know. That’s a picture from Braveheart, but my attention span wavered a bit looking for just the right Henry V shot. Or you could treat yoself. In that case, it would be more like Montgomery Burns drumming his fingers together and declaring quietly and creepily, “The Twine Swine is mine.” Either way, people will be happy.
Really, I think Twine Swine might have been invented by pigs who were sick of bacon trending, wanting to see people eat more chicken. They might have been inspired by the Chick-fil-a cows. I love roast chicken. Ina Garten makes a perfect roast chicken in Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients. It’s lickable. Then I got Marcela Valodolid’s Casa Marcela: Recipes and Food Stories of My Life in the Californias. She sticks jalapeños under the skin of the roast chicken and it’s a total game changer. It’s not really spicy, just insanely flavorful. I played with their ideas, and it was like Ina’s chicken and Marcela’s chicken had a delicious, delicious baby. Here’s my Rock Star Jalapeño Roast Chicken and Vegetables.
Here’s the link to get your very own Twine Swine! They’re currently out of stock. <Gasp!> I emailed the seller and she said she’ll have them in a few weeks. You’ll have to just wish list that little guy for now. <If you live near a Buc-ee’s, I saw them in stock there!> I think I’m calling mine Wilbur. Piggy McSwine. Oinky. Curly. Mr. Pigglesworth. Grunty. I can’t decide.
Jen’s Rock Star Jalapeño Roast Chicken and Vegetables
1 5-6 pound chicken
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
8 Tablespoons olive oil
1 head garlic, 2 cloves minced, 2 left in their papery peels, and the rest peeled and halved
2 jalapeños, sliced thinly
1 red onion, roughly diced
2 small limes, one halved, and one cut into wedges for serving
2 pounds small Yukon gold potatoes, quartered
2 green bell peppers, roughly chopped
2 orange* bell pepper, roughly chopped
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon pepper, plus more for sprinkling
Remove and discard the bag of parts from inside the chicken. Wash the chicken, pat it perfectly dry, and salt and pepper the inside. Make sure there are no little pin feathers anywhere. That could wreck someone’s delicious bite of chicken.
Combine the butter, two Tablespoons olive oil, and the minced garlic. Loosen the chicken skin carefully with your fingers, and rub the mixture under the skin. Distribute half the jalapeño slices under the skin. (If you’re an eye rubber, you should totally pop on disposable gloves while handling the chiles so you don’t give yourself the unwelcome surprise of a burning eyeball later! They’re great for canning, dehydrating, and handling pomegranates and beets, too.) Rub one tablespoon of olive oil all over the outside of chicken, and give him a nice dusting of salt and pepper.
Fill the cavity of the chicken with the lime halves, the two garlic cloves in their peels, one quarter of the onion, and half the cilantro (stems go in, too). Tie the legs together and tuck the ends of the wings under the body, like he’s doing a Mick Jagger dance. Set him on a little baking sheet and pop him in the fridge for at least 4 hours to dry out the skin a bit. You’ll be rewarded with a crispier chicken later. He can stay in their for a full day if that suits your timing better.
After 4 hours or a day……. Put a large cast iron pan in the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C for friends overseas).
Toss the potatoes, peppers, and the rest of the jalapeño, garlic, and onion with the rest of the olive oil, one and a half tablespoons of kosher salt (half that if you’re using table salt), and one teaspoon black pepper.
Put the veggies on a rimmed cookie sheet, or in a roasting pan, and place the chicken, breast side down in the middle of that piping hot cast iron pan.
Roast for about 40 minutes. Flip that chicken over. A sturdy pair of tongs and a big spatula are my tool of choice here. Stir the vegetables. Pop the chicken and veggies back in the oven and roast for about 40 minutes more, til an internal thermometer (don’t hit the bone!) says 165°. The time’s just a guideline. The internal temp will make sure you’ve got it just right! Baste that guy with the pan juices once or twice.
Put him on a lovely platter, surrounded by the vegetables, and sprinkle with the chopped cilantro and scatter the lime wedges about. I bring him to the table like that, and then carve him. Because he’s beautiful. You can carve him before you bring him to the table if you’re a more practical sort…. Yeah, I remembered to grab the cilantro and lime garnish *after* I snapped a pic…. Always, right?!
Shiraz, zinfandel, pinot grigio, and cold beer all play nicely with this chicken. Pineapple sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and roasted til its sweet delicious perfume is taking over your kitchen is a fine idea, too (1 Tablespoon sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and popped under a hot broiler, rotating a few times, for about 15 minutes total). Delicious.
*I use orange bell pepper because it’s my favorite color, but it’s totally arbitrary. With the purple onion, it’s kind of lookin’ like Mardi Gras up in here. If you were making this for a Packer fan, you could use yellow, and there’d be nothing but green and gold as far as the eye can see. Or if you’re making this near Christmas, you could use red, and it would be a holly jolly looking dish. You do you.