February 14, 2010

You *can* have your chicken and eat it too

A good friend of mine recently had a baby boy.  He's just 16 days old today and so tiny and sweet and perfect.  I wanted cook dinner for my friend and her family during this time as they readjust to life with a newborn.  They have one daughter who is almost three and so they are also adjusting to life as a family of three to life as a family of four.  I remember those first few weeks after Nathan was born.  It was tough for us; I'm not going to sugar-coat it.  This friend was so sweet and helpful to me and she brought us dinner probably once a week for the first four to five weeks.  And it meant so much to me.  So, I want to help them out.  Not only to return the favor, but because I remember those nights that she would bring dinner and it was such a comfort and such a relief to have something home-cooked and delicious to eat at the end of a long day.

As I was thinking of what to make for them I tried to think of what I would want to eat during a time like this and the first thing that popped into my mind was roasted chicken.  Not only is roasted chicken so lovely to eat the day you cook it as a hot meal, but in our family there are always leftovers (there is no way that me, my sweets and Gabe can eat an entire chicken!).  So, I thought it would be great for them because then they would have dinner one night and could have leftovers for another meal as well. 

Now, I will tell you that up until a few years ago I would never have dreamed of cooking a whole chicken myself.  I don't know why.  I don't remember my mom ever roasting a whole chicken.  Turkey, yes.  Chicken, well no.  Usually, if she did cook an entire chicken it was cut into pieces and she would bake them (so, in the oven but just not at a very high heat).  So maybe I was a little scared?  But I kept hearing Ina say that roasting a chicken was so easy that eventually I had to try it.  Guess what.  It is so easy.  And yet, so comforting and satisfying.

Now, I will also tell you, that as I was buying a chicken for my friend's dinner it occurred to me that my sweets would not be happy to have to smell the roasted chicken cooking in the house but not get to eat the roasted chicken.  For some reason he thinks I make the best roasted chicken ever.  While it is very sweet of him to say (thanks sweets!) I can assure you that it's probably not the best.  I mean, what does that mean anyway?  But basically I realized that I would need to buy two chickens.  There, problem solved. 

So this is what my roasting pan looked like yesterday afternoon:

And one-and-a-half hours later:

Ahhh, lovely roasted perfection.  And as a little side note, I had never roasted lemon wedges with the vegetables before.  I always stuff one in the cavity of the bird, but on another recommendation of Ina's I tried roasting lemons with the veggies.  Oh boy.  These were so yummy.  Just the tiniest hint of bitterness, but mostly just soft and tender with roasty-goodness.  They were the perfect compliment to the other vegetables.  I will definitely be adding them to the veggie mix from now on.

After we ate I carved the remainder of the chicken and took as much of the meat from the bone as possible (for chicken salad).  And then I made stock from the carcasses (which is now another of my favorite things to do.  Homemade stock is so amazingly simple and yet so good).

Finally, today we had a variation of this cranberry-walnut chicken salad.  My sweets is the type who likes sweet and savory foods together; especially the combination of meats with fruits (like pork chops with say, a lovely apple chutney).  So this was perfect for an easy Sunday lunch and we used up some of our chicken leftovers.

Next on the list?  I'm thinking spaghetti and meatballs...


  1. so hungry! Ina is a doll, isn't she? and a genius. She makes it all look so simple why wouldn't you try it?

    happy mardi gras!


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