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This is a great dish to serve your loved one(s) for Valentine’s day. The flavors are unique, as are some of the ingredients which makes it a special kind of meal. Yet at the same time it is quite easy to prepare – the oven does most of the work. It is like fancied soul food.

Lately, I have been trying to familiarize myself with artisan brews. For years, like a lot of people, I thought I just didn’t like beer. But I have come to find that once in a while, I do enjoy a bit of the bubbly. I prefer unique brews, generally dark porters and stouts, and I love British style hard cider (which isn’t beer either…), but sometimes a lighter beer catches my fancy. I have always been fascinated with the Ancient world, especially in Northern Europe. The myths, stories and legends of Scotland, England, Ireland, Brittany in Northern France, and Scandinavia have always been my favorites. Of course due to my food obsession, I have also been curious about ancient feasts – the foods and cuisines.

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Years ago I found an amazing ale, the likes of which has been made in Scotland for over 4,000 years. This ale is brewed with heather flowers and Scottish malt and has a very floral flavor. It is quite refreshing and crisp, and goes really well with roasted chicken. It can also be enjoyed on it’s own, or with really earthy cheeses, like raw cow or sheep milk cheeses, which often have a grassy quality to them.

In light of recently finding out a bit more about my biological ancestry, I decided that it would be fun to start exploring more of the foods and dishes of Northern Europe (perhaps that explains my long held fascination with that area of the world, and its history). I also happened upon a pack of Fraoch, Scottish Heather Ale,and felt inspired to make roasted whole chicken legs and root veggies with a heather ale sauce. In honor of our upcoming move to Vermont, I also added some maple syrup to enhance the sweetness of the ale, and used Herbs de Provence to enhance the floral qualities. I can honestly say the result was one of the best dishes I have made in a while. If I had known how good this was going to be, I would have made it for Valentine’s Day. It is definitely special enough for that. Thank you kitchen muses for this wonderful meal! Sometimes, hobbies and interest outside of the kitchen, can really inspire us, IN the kitchen. This dish is certainly a testament to that.

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For dessert, be sure to try my Spicy Mayan Hot Chocolate . It is a recipe from my e-book The Secret Energy of Love Through Food .

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Here is a sweet way that you can give a little this Valentine’s Day – I will be giving all the proceeds for the book, during the month of February, to blogger efforts on behalf of Haiti relief.

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Half will go to H2Ope for Haiti (a way to raise funds to supply water to Haiti by BloggerAid-CFF) and the other half will go to

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Stir It  28 for Haiti

So please buy a copy today!  And please spread the word! This is a perfect cookbook  for Valentine’s Day and any day to share a delicious meal with any loved one!

You can also send a donation directly to Stir It 28 by going to Bren’s blog There is a Paypal donation box on the upper right hand side and to H2ope for Haiti by going to this Justgiving Page .

Recipe under the cut…

Roasted Chicken with Heather Ale & Herbs de Provence

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Serves 4 – Even a meal like this is under $5 per serving, and that includes a bottle of heather ale to enjoy along with 2 of the servings!

INGREDIENTS:

3 organic whole chicken legs, skin on
1 TBS butter
1 shallot head, peeled and thinly sliced
5 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
½ bottle of Fraoch Heather Ale
10 small potatoes (red or white), chopped
1 large sweet potato, chopped
5 carrots, thickly sliced
1 TBS mustard
1 TBS pure 100% Maple syrup
2 tsp Herbs de Provence
salt & pepper to taste

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Season the chicken on both sides with Herbs de Provence and salt and pepper. Brown chicken in a skillet (cast iron is the best for this), skin side down. Meanwhile, in a dutch oven, or stovetop proof roasting pan, sautee the shallots and garlic in the butter. Place a layer of potatoes on top of the shallots and garlic, season with salt, pepper and Herbs de Provence. Once the chicken has been browned on both sides, place legs in the dutch oven in one layer, spread a layer of mustard on top of the chicken legs, and then drizzle with ½ the maple syrup. Place carrots on top of chicken and season. Brown the rest of the potatoes in batches in the chicken fat left in the skillet. Once they are browned, pour them on top of the carrots and season. The final step is to pour over the ½ bottle of heather ale. Place lid on the dutch oven or roasting pan and place in the oven, and roast for about an hour. Then remove the lid, and roast another 20 minutes, to reduce some of the liquid.