03 April 2008

Sunday Roast Chicken

En français ici.
Yes, I'm on a chicken kick (sorry vegetarians!), but let me explain. Recently, one of my close friends sent out an SOS entitled help oh foodie one (I like it - it makes me sound like a food goddess) explaining that after some finance reassessment, she discovered she had very little money for food every month and needed to learn to cook cheap, and fast! What could I do to help? Well, I have to admit, she's not the only one with this problem. With inflation here and food prices going up and up, I've been doing a little panicking on shopping days myself. Nevertheless, I've decided to look at this as a creative food challenge, rather than a catastrophe and I'll be sharing my thoughts with you all (you'll notice the new label on the left Eat Well for Cheap).

True, one of the best ways to eat cheap is to eat vegetarian (more expensive of course if you want to eat organic, but better for you and the planet). However, for those of us who don't feel completely protein-ified no matter how many beans we consume, and who appreciate meat once in a while, the cheapest way I know to eat meat is to buy a whole chicken once a week and roast it. My butcher sells a chicken for 5.90 euros no matter the weight and, he usually winks and points out the heaviest one so you get the most for your money.

Sunday brunch is very important in France, often a time when families come together around good food, and roast chicken is one of the traditional Sunday dishes. Always one to try out local customs, I made my roast chicken last Sunday and D. and I have been eating it all week. Very good for the wallet:

Sunday lunch: roast chicken and veggies
Monday lunch: leftover roast chicken and veggies
Tuesday dinner: comfort coconut noodles with the rest of the chicken
Wednesday lunch: leftover comfort coconut noodles
Wednesday afternoon: stock making time with the chicken bones
Thursday lunch: potato leek soup with chicken stock

Friday lunch: leftover potato leek soup

As Joy of Cooking says:

Roasting a chicken does not require the skills of a restaurant chef. You will get perfectly good results if you proceed as your grandmother did. (Personally, I can't imagine my grandmother roasting chickens... but go on...) Simply arrange the chicken breast side up on a rimmed baking sheet or in a shallow roasting pan...and roast it until the thigh releases clear juices.

See, it's easy!
Here's a simple recipe to get you started.

Roast Chicken and Potatoes
1 chicken
6-8 potatoes, depending on size
2 carrots (optional)
3 tomatoes
3 1/2 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 branch rosemary (or 1 tsp dried)
a pinch of thyme
a pinch of dried basil
salt, pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F. In a small bowl, mix together the oil, rosemary, thyme, basil, salt, pepper and melted butter. Using a basting brush or your fingers, coat the chicken with this mixture (you won't use all of it yet), and place it breast side up in a baking pan or shallow roasting pan. Peel and chop the potatoes and carrots into slices and place around the chicken in the baking pan. Wash and cut the tomatoes into quarters and add to pan. Spoon some more of the sauce over the vegetables.

Put the chicken in the oven and roast for a about 1 hour, until the thigh releases clear juices (as Joy of Cooking say) when poked with a knife. Don't forget to baste the chicken once or twice during the cooking process. You can mix the vegetables a bit too to make sure they cook all over. After about 1 hour, you might consider turning the chicken over for 10-15 minutes, especially if you don't have a convection oven, or if your oven is ridiculously small and weak like mine (yes, I have a sissy oven). That way you make sure the bottom is done as well.

Carve, and eat, and make into more meals!

For more ideas for your leftover chicken, try:
My Chicken soup
Leftover Chicken Pesto Salad from Kalyn's Kitchen
Lemon Chicken and Pea Risotto from Love Food Hate Waste
Leftover Chicken Pot Pie from cooks.com
or go to leftoverchicken.com - a whole website devoted to the question !


Laney said...

Hey Hopie! I can't see Nana roasting any chickens either, but mom here would like to point out that her mother did roast them, and taught her. So there.


Hopie said...

Laney - yeah, I thought maybe she did. Too bad I didn't have Grandma Eloise around to show ME how! That whole dying before meeting us thing was very negligent on her part. Guess Mom will just have to pass down the recipes.

So, how do you make roast chicken, Mom?

Cicero Sings said...

Hi Hopie! Thanks for the blog visit and comment. Acting in Paris and cooking! Quite the combo and just the place to do both if one can swing it! I have an acquaintance that teaches French literature at a university in the Fraser Valley of B.C. She is from angliphone background but the French language and the French people have captured her heart as well. She goes to Paris and to France whenever she can.

My granny not only roasted chickens she went out and killed and dressed them before doing so ... but I'm much older than yourself.

We think roast chicken is so versatile ... not only good the first night, we usually get one or two more meals out of it plus soup, wonderful soup! We roast our chicken with a pricked lemon and onion slices tucked in the cavity, outside coated in olive oil, thyme, ceyenne pepper and salt ... placed on a rack ... breast down so juices will run through the white meat and keep it moist ... whole, unpeeled garlic cloves tossed around ... a bit of liquid ... covered for half the roasting time ... uncovered the balance of the time. Works for us ... and those garlics are yummy squeezed on the rice or potatoes. Mmmm. Maybe we should pick up a chicken!

For colds, take Oil of Oregano ... if you take it just as you feel a cold coming on ... you can usually nip it in the bud. Found at Health Food Stores.

Bon courage in your acting career!

Hopie said...

Cicero sings - thanks for visiting! I roasted a chicken today and tried it with garlic and cayenne pepper added to my original ingredients with delicious results. I can't roast on a rack because my oven is pretty much the size of a large toaster oven... but hopefully when I move later this spring and have a real oven, I can give it a try!

I wonder if I can find Oregano Oil in Paris. I'll have to take a look.

Harvey @ Leftover Chicken Recipes said...

Oil of Oregano? I had never heard that little trick, where do you get it? I'm in the States, I'll let you know if I find it anywhere over here.

If your butcher has a cousin living over here too, let me know. I could use a guy that points out the best deals! :)