Sunday, July 06, 2008

Happiness is a roast chicken.

A short ode to roast chicken. Is there anything more homey, more comforting, more downright wonderful than a beautiful, juicy roast chicken with crispy brown skin? You slosh some broth in a pan, throw the rinsed chicken in, and anoint it liberally with olive oil and salt/pepper. Maybe you throw a quartered onion or some herbs and lemon inside the chicken cavity. Cover with some tin foil and toss it in a 350 degree oven for a couple of hours while you soak in the tub, paint your toenails, and play "This Little Piggy" with the baby. (Our piggies travel all over the world sampling exotic cuisine, so this game can get a bit involved for us.)

Your reward? Delicious, tender yumminess. If you were feeling ambitious and added chopped veggies to the pan an hour into the cooking, you have a complete meal! Clay LOVES the soft-cooked veggies, perfumed and flavored by the lip-smacking liquid that cooks out of the chicken. I swear, we will wash his hands after the meal, and an hour or two later, you can still smell a hint of roast chicken when he puts his little hands on your face to point out your "Eyes, Nose, and Mouth" (another popular game at our house). Strangers with candy? He couldn't care less. But allow one of those strangers to wave a bit of roasted chicken in his general vicinity, and he would follow them to the ends of the earth.

And then the leftovers. The LEFTOVERS! We make homemade chicken salad. (I love it with minced white onion, celery, and tons of curry; or with halved red grapes and pecans; or with celery, green onions, and capers.) We also make rich chicken noodle soup. Sometimes, I'll boil the stripped chicken carcass the next day and make homemade chicken broth, which we use for soups, gravies, risotto, all kinds of fabulous things.

Our family can stretch one roasted chicken into at least three satisfying meals, plus homemade broth. There is absolutely no down side, people.

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