Cooking When You’re Home for HoursWhen it’s a work-at-home-day or when other reasons beckon you to stay home in the warmth and comfort of your fuzzy slippers, when you want to hunker down, or batten down the hatches in preparation for a storm (real or imagined or emotional), it’s good to put something tasty in the oven. Hopefully, it will take hours to cook and fill your home with delectable smells of what’s to come. There is a very easy way to do this. Buy a chicken — a roaster. Not one of those itty- bitty fryers, even if you’re cooking for one. (I’ll give you easy ideas for freezing and/or using the leftovers.) Roasters take longer to cook. This is the whole idea! Also get some baking potatoes, organic preferably. Scrub them and set them aside to dry a bit. So you’ve got a chicken and potatoes. Rinse the bird under the faucet, put it in the baking pan and pat it dry with a paper towel. Make sure you’ve removed any giblets in the main cavity of the bird. Rub the chicken with olive oil. Then rub, slather or sprinkle the chicken with ANY ONE of the following: 1. A spice-rub that you might have on hand. Penzey’s Spices has many of these. BiCentennial, Southwest, and Northwoods Seasoning are just three of my many favorites. I love this company and there’s nothing better than opening an order from them and indulging in opening the jar of nutmeg for a whiff!! Their spices are so fresh! (Did you know that a spice you buy in a grocery store can already be a year old??? Yikes.) http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzeys/shophome.html. You won’t believe the difference. You’re so welcome. 2. OR Fresh or dried herbs you have on hand. Again, check out Penzey’s for the dried herbs — they have heavenly Tarragon! If you have a Rosemary bush outside your door or down the street, all the better. Take a few big sprigs, rinse under running water and shake off. Strip the leaves off (hold the sprig at the top and strip from top to bottom.) Chop. Put all over the outside of the chicken and throw a generous size sprig or two into the cavity. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper. 3. OR Mix 1 tablespoon of paprika and 1/2 teaspoon of salt with 1/2 cup of sour cream. Slather it all over the chicken. Yes, I know it looks gross at this stage, but wait until it bakes. Yum. 4. OR Tuck leaves of fresh Sage and about 10 chopped cloves of garlic under the skin on the breast. Simply separate the skin from the breast meat by sliding one finger between the skin and the meat. Loosen and clear away the connective tissue and voila! You’ve got room for spices. Put the Sage and garlic there. Squeeze lemon juice mixed with a tablespoon or two of olive oil all over. Add salt and pepper. Put the baking potatoes rubbed with a little olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper around the bird. Put all into a preheated 350 degree oven. Many recipes say 20-25 minutes per pound for roasting a chicken, but I find for a 5-6 lb roaster, it takes longer than that per pound, about 2-1/4 to 2-1/2 hours total. If the legs move easily, and the juices run clear (or almost) you’re good to go. Always let the bird sit about 10 minutes before carving. SAVE the drippings. Put the bird on a plate to carve and pour all the drippings into a glass container and put in the refrigerator. Tomorrow you’ll skim off the grease that rises to the top and you have the most delicious ready-made sauce in the world. See below for uses. Oh, and the leftovers! 1. If you don’t have hungry mouths around to finish up the chicken, take several servings and put in separate freezer ziplock bags, label them with the contents and date and freeze. Put a little of the defatted drippings into the bag, like a tablespoon or two. 2. Make any kind of pasta (wheat, kamut, rice) and add the chicken and a veggie and a little of the pan drippings (without the fat). Delicious. 3. Buy a cheese or vegetable pizza and add the chicken to it and bake. Or use a tortilla (corn, wheat, spelt, Ezekiel) and make a baby pizza. Start with pizza sauce or fresh tomatoes. Then add a little garlic, leftover veggies, the chicken and ANY kind of cheese –crumbled feta, small dollops of soft goat (chevre) cheese, grated cheddar, parmesan, fresh or regular mozzarella. The possibilities and taste sensations are endless. 4. Have a warm chicken salad. Warm the chicken gently, then add it to your favorite purchased or homemade Vegetable salad. 5. Put chicken in your morning omelette or have breakfast for dinner! What’s your favorite way to use leftover chicken? Let me know! To all things gustatory, Terri Crosby
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