Emily and Ben were over for dinner again tonight. To make things easy, I pulled a pair of chickens out of the freezer this morning; they weren’t fully thawed by the time I had to go pick them up at school – no matter, roast chicken is very forgiving. I patted them dry, rubbed them with oil, sprinkled them with salt and pepper and put them in at 350 for about an hour and a half. That’s all you really need to know to roast a chicken – pat the skin dry first if you want it crispy, then rub it with soft butter and/or oil, and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Paprika too, if you like, or rub curry paste under the skin. If you have a lemon, halve it, squeeze some overtop and throw the rest inside the cavity. If you have garlic, throw a few cloves in there, or rub the skin with a cut clove. Timing wise, I have never weighed and timed a chicken; cook it until it looks golden and done, the juices run clear and the joints wiggle in their sockets. Baste it if you think of it, don’t worry if you don’t.
The fantastic thing about roasting a chicken is that it takes exactly as much time and effort to roast two, and there is nothing more versatile than an extra roast chicken. Any meat cooked on the bone is more flavorful, so I use chopped roasted chicken in any recipe that requires the chopping and sauteeing of a chicken breast. It’s usually Mike’s job to shred the meat, which is then stashed in the freezer and the carcass simmered for stock.
Emily’s favorite thing to do with chicken is to wrap it up in a whole wheat tortilla with some romaine lettuce and a drizzle of low fat creamy Caesar dressing. It’s her favorite lunch: my sister baggies up individual serving sizes of shredded chicken and freezes it; Emily then takes a tortilla, adds a leaf of lettuce, pulls a frozen chunk of roast chicken from the freezer and plops it on top, drizzles it with dressing and rolls it up. The frozen chicken keeps the lettuce and dressing cool until lunchtime, at which point everything is thawed enough to eat.
Fortunately, I made a batch of garlicky hummus earlier in the week to snack on (a bowl of hummus with some pita and veg is a great lunch to munch on at your desk), and one of my favorite ways with roast chicken is to stuff it in a pita half that has been slathered with garlicky hummus, then tuck in some lettuce, tomato, cucumber or chopped purple onion, if there is any to be had. Today there was only lettuce. Willem and Ben chewed on the drumsticks.