Monday, March 7, 2011

Roast Chicken

I tend to have this list in my head of things that I should be able to do to be called a "real housewife."  I suspect a lot of us have this list, even if we don't want to admit it.  Our culture has gone through a period of really devaluing the homemaking arts, and that leaves many of us (guys and gals) searching our history for touchstones that tell us if we are really doing a good job around the ole homestead.  I just watched an episode of House Hunters on HGTV in which the young male homeowner said that he viewed buying a lawnmower as a rite of passage; to him, he had reached true homeowner status when he could go out and mow his own lawn.  Presumably, a lawn service wouldn't -- pardon the pun -- cut it.

Anyway, one of the things on my list has been learning to roast a chicken.  This is actually an important skill for me to learn, because our schedules depend on me and Mr. FC&G cooking something that throws off about 6 meals every Sunday.  (That is, we need to feed ourselves that day, and then have leftovers for a couple of dinners and a couple of lunches for him.)  Sunday is our last real opportunity to cook before Wednesday at the earliest, given that we pretty much go immediately from work to dance practice Monday and Tuesday.  If there aren't ready leftovers in the fridge, we will descend quickly into grabbing junk food from the pantry on the run. 

Summers are easy:  Mr. FC&G will grill out a load of burgers and dogs on Sunday night, and with the garden, that is probably the cooking for the week.  Winter is harder, because the garden is not there and grilling out can be miserable.  Enter the chicken.

I bought a fresh four pound chicken from Trader Joe's that they said was cage free and hormone free.  It came in at only $5.24.  If I get six meals (servings) from this, and I will, I will be very happy.

Anyway, buy your fresh chicken, open 'er up, and remove the giblets.  If you are a novice like me, learn from one of my mistakes:  DO NOT freeze the thing on Friday and then decide on Sunday that you are in the mood to cook it after all!!  I spent over an hour thawing that thing in warm water and then prying the bag of giblets out of the cavity with my fingernail, where it was frozen to the ribs.  If you buy a fresh chicken, either cook it in the next day or two, or remove the giblets to the stock bucket before you freeze it.

Anyway, once that nasty job was done, I just stuffed the cavity with onion, sage, garlic, and butter, and spread some of that yummy mix on the top.  I baked it for 20 minutes for each pound, then another half hour with some Yukon Gold potatoes in with it, soaking up those drippings.  I served it with biscuits and homemade preserves and some greens from the sunroom.  I even made chicken gravy (drippings whisked and cooked with flour, for those of you who, like me, had to look that up).

Presto:  dinner for the two of us, at least three or four lunches/dinners for Mr. FC&G, and some bones and giblets to make stock.  And a much freer week for me while I try to conquer the world through my keyboard instead of in the kitchen.

The Analysis

Fast:  Not fast, precisely, but certainly a low-effort thing to enjoy while sitting around on a Sunday afternoon.  It takes even less time if you don't make my frozen-giblet error.

Cheap:  The chicken itself comes in at less than $1 per serving, so this is the basis for a week of cheap meals.

Good:  The chicken was moist and yummy, and the potatoes were to die for.  Seriously, this is a homemaking skill to acquire!
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