First Dinner of 2012

Our first meal of 2012 was brunch at Papagayo. It was fabulous, and contrary to what  I said about writing about food this year, I did take pictures, and I will be blogging about it. A make-your-own Bloody Mary bar is worth writing about.

Unfortunately, brunch, followed by shopping for new running shoes, followed by grocery shopping, was too much for my illness-worn body, and by the time dinner rolled around on January 1, I was back in bed. At 6:00.

Thank goodness for Sex and the City marathons to pass the time. Oh yeah, and Homeland and Midnight in Paris. Clearly, I had an active weekend. I pretty much did nothing for three days, but I don’t feel at all relaxed. Does that even make sense?

Anyway, I woke up Monday with my 10th day of a sore throat but feeling better. I was determined to make something delicious for dinner, even though my appetite was still missing.

whole chicken

I started by cleaning a whole chicken and popping it into a large tupperware container for brining. On my way home from Ireland, I watched a Jamie Oliver Christmas special on the plane, and I had been thinking about his jerk ham brine ever since. I used some elements of it as inspiration for my own brine.


I coated the chicken in salt and let it sit out in the open air while I mixed up its bath for the day.


About 1 cup of Brugal white rum – I planned to use more, but I think it evaporated because most of the rum was gone.

A ton of spices – fresh black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, chili powder, paprika, cinnamon, and more salt

spice blend

I added the spice mixture and rum to the chicken, rubbing it on with the back of a spoon and filling the cavity with some of the mix. Then I poured in enough water to cover the chicken, added more salt, some cumin, mixed it all up, and then put the sealed container in the fridge for about six hours.


Before I was ready to get cooking, I set the oven to pre-heat to 375 and got started on some veggies. I found these beautiful sweet peppers at Market Basket, and they were the perfect thing for roasting, along with some yellow onions.


Once the chicken was out of the brine, I stuffed it with a few pats of butter and let it cook for about an hour and 20 minutes until crispy and golden. In the meantime, I mashed up a bunch of sweet potatoes with SO Delicious coconut milk. I highly recommend.


The chicken smelled amazing, and the peppers cooked down really nicely. Apologies for the mangled drumstick, I went to check it, and it fell off.



Yum. I served the chicken atop the sweet potatoes and alongside the peppers and onions, topped with a simple homemade gravy. It was such a satisfying, delicious, and somewhat healthy meal and a great way to kick off the New Year. Lots of leftovers mean lunch for both of us today!

What was the first thing you cooked in 2012?

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Tags: brine, Brugal, chicken, dinner, Food, peppers, roast chicken, rum, spices

  1. Michelle’s avatar

    We’re still working our way through leftovers from New Year’s Eve! I saw the same package of sweet peppers at Market Basket and was so tempted to buy them and freeze them!


    1. traveleatlove’s avatar

      They are SO good, both raw and roasted until caramelized.


    2. Daisy’s avatar

      I can’t wait to hear about Papagayo’s brunch. In the meantime, what a way to kick off the new year! When I was sick, I could never have whipped up something this amazing!! The first thing I cooked in 2012 was a big brunch for Adam and I – an asparagus and potato hash with leftovers from our big meal and eggs in a basket. And obviously mimosas, thank goodness we had leftover champagne, too!


    3. Heather’s avatar

      Sadly I haven’t cooked much in the New Year – I’ve been cleaning and organizing though!

      I love making something with tons of leftovers – especially something like chicken which can be turned into so many different meals!


    4. Emily @ A Cambridge Story’s avatar

      The rum brine is so interesting! Atop sweet potatoes, this sounds like the perfect winter dinner! My first meal in 2012 was Myers + Chang dim sum, but Hoppin’ John was my first homecooked meal.


    5. Elizabeth’s avatar

      The first thing I cooked was an Indian spiced cauliflower and lentil soup yesterday. I had a wonderful vegetable gumbo on new year’s day though cooked by my friend’s mom.


    6. Jolene (’s avatar

      Make your own bloody mary bar!!?? Cool!!!!

      The first thing I cooked in 2012 was oatmeal I think, LOL!


    7. Megan’s avatar

      This sounds great! And I love that the drumstick fell off. Shows how tender the meat was!

      I made waffles for breakfast on New Year’s Day, and then I tried a new salmon dish for dinner.


    8. Michelle Collins’s avatar

      What a great first dinner! The first thing I cooked in 2012 was a spicy Indian dish – just a mix of chickpeas, veggies and some unique Indian spices we got for Christmas.


    9. Eric King’s avatar

      Holy Yum! – so delicious – what a great brine to keep the chicken so juicy and tender.


    10. Paige @ Running Around Normal’s avatar

      Mmm:) On an unrelated note – Brugal “ron” takes me right back to Domican Republic.


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