Monday, February 20, 2012

Why did the chicken cross the road ? To escape being cooked for Sunday Dinner !

There is something very laid back about Sundays. Even in this day and age of bizarre shift work, cross country families and heavy commitment schedules, there is something about the very word Sunday that makes you think about slowing down a little. Pause- linger- eat something that takes a little more time and effort. Much of this stems from a time when Sunday was the day everything was closed, services were attended, and you just might go visit Grandma or other family member. It was a good thing- people were sort of guided towards relaxing , and a grand body of things that would fit Sunday Dinner Fare was well known, Every family had a Sunday Gravy, Sunday Pot Roast or so forth. If nothing else, there was the Sunday roast chicken, with all of it's possibilities for broth, sandwiches and chicken and dumpling sort of dishes to follow. Yum !

Sadly today , there are many people who do not know how to cook beyond opening a can or boiling water, and there are others who have been brainwashed by the forces of EVIL cooking , who create recipes with no fat ( and no taste) because they themselves have been seduced by the lie that fat is unhealthy.  You need fat- real NATURAL fats ( butter, olive oil, peanut oil), not factory fats( canola, vegetable oil, corn oil, soybean oil or margarine). It not only adds actual taste( and satiation) to food, but it allows all of those fat soluble vitamins ( A and D amongst them) to be absorbed by your body. Without these, it would be the same thing as you attempting to enter a locked building without a key ( or a blowtorch- but that's another story).

One of the things I like to make on Sunday is Roast Chicken with Roast veggies. One pan, easy clean up, deliciousness ! For several years I would roast veggies with a simple drizzle of olive oil, and they would come out about as tender as wood chips, and have as much flavor as a partially burned box. My loving family would politely gnaw on these , smile, say "yum", and eat very small servings. Then I discovered how to REALLY prepare roast veggies and the family would smile , devour nearly all that was made, in silence, with looks of satisfaction on their faces. Let's face it- isn't that the kind of thing you want to see happen when you put a meal on your table ?

                                Chicken and Roast Root Veggies -2 1/2 hrs prep and cook time                                                

First, get a roasting pan  and assortment of root veggies that are in season, available, your family favorites- no rules here except they should all be root type veggies for similar constancy and cooking time ( spinach takes less time than potatoes so they would not be a good mix). Here I am using a mix of beets peeled and cubed, yukon gold potatoes unpeeled and cubed, onions and a big sweet potato unpeeled and cubed. Sprinkle  the mix with salt and pepper. Now here comes the different part- step over to your stove, grab a half a stick of butter, a serious glug of olive oil ( about a quarter cup), and cook on low heat till the butter is melted.Pour over the veggies, mix, pour  and place in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.After 30 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and place a whole chicken , washed , dried and seasoned on top of the veggies.
I season mine with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and I like to tuck a couple of halved lemons and sprigs of rosemary in the cavity for flavor and an aroma that flirts with you while it cooks. Forgive the poor picture- I was using my new phone's camera to see if I could streamline life a little. Placing the chicken on top of the veggies acts in the same way as placing a chicken on a roasting rack- it raises it so the heat can come in contact with more of the surface, and you get a crispy skin.In this case the veggies benefit from a flavor boost gifted to them via the chicken drippings.  Reduce the heat to 375 and slide the pan with bird and veggies back into the oven for 1 1/2 hrs. Trust me- the veggies will not turn to shrapnel and the bird will cook nicely without basting, foil coverings, voodoo or anything else.Frequent opening of your oven to baste does nothing more than repeatedly reduce the temperature inside of your oven, potentially making for an underdone bird. Go annoy your cat, snuggle with your husband, take a bubble bath, heckle the squirrels on your porch or anything else you might fancy. It will cook perfectly without any meddling .

In a mere 90 minutes, after it has tempted your senses and made you so hungry you will wish to eat the gasket on the oven door as an appetizer, your meal will be done. Remove the chicken, check the internal temp with a meat thermometer to be sure( 180 degrees) and transfer to a serving plate  and let sit 10 minutes before carving. Try hard !
Then place your roast veggies in a serving bowl:

Then slice up that bird and consume ! Try not to break into fist fights over who gets the last piece of skin - after all, it is Sunday Dinner and you should play nice ! You can save the bones, any liquid in the pan and any left over veggies to make a pot of bone broth ( the base for so many other wonderful things). Put em in the freezer if you are not going to make this in a day or two. The left over chicken( if any) makes a great chicken salad. Or casserole. Clean up is just one seriously dirty pan and one you used to melt butter. It's a beautiful thing ! It's a quick trip from this satisfying dinner to an evening of yelling at The Apprentice. What's not to love ??


Jeremy Logsdon said...

That is seriously making my mouth water, and the oatmeal I had for breakfast about two hours ago is now officially gone.

I love roasted root veggies, but I've never thought about cooking them with the chicken on top. That is definitely going on the rotation.

And I love your comments about real fats. I can't say we avoid frankenfoods 100%, but I know we certainly feel better when we eat the whole fat version of things. (One exception being skim milk, which we use because we prefer the taste.)

Di said...

I drank skim milk for over 20 years because of the concept that it was fat free and healthy- and because I grew to like the taste. When I switched to whole milk at first it seemed like drinking whipping cream, but in a sort of incredibly guilty pleasure decadent sort of way. Fat tastes good for a reason- we are wired to crave things that provide our bodies of the nutrient we need, in their natural form. Roast veggies ( and roast or grilled fruits) taste so good because the direct heat brings out the natural sugars in the taste and sightly caramelizes them, and the sugars hit large sections of our taste buds and makes us scream "get in my belly !!!" :-)

JC said...

Wow, my mouth is watering. I so wish I could come to your house for Sunday dinner. Our Sunday dinners have been Captain D's for the last four Sundays cause my hubby discovered they have senior specials (4.99 including drink and all the lemons he can hold). You seriously have me thinking I could make this dinner. THanks for sharing.

Di said...

JC- you have to love any place that offers a discount !I think there is something in our nature that when we see the word discount forces our feet to head in that direction :-) And while lemons are in season and fairly reasonable right now, when they come as part of a meal and all you can handle, it makes that deal even better :-)