I decided I am going to steal borrow the “Chicken Tuesday” idea (from that commercial), and share some of my favourite chicken recipes.
I don’t know why, but that commercial always cracks me up. As for “Chicken Tuesday“, I have to admit that we are by no means that consistent, organized (predictable/boring) to eat anything specific on any day of the week.
Menu Planning: Last year, I reconnected with a good friend from high school. She now lives all the way over on the other side of the country, and has three kids. We were talking on the phone just before dinnertime, and she was looking for something quick and easy to feed the kids. She said, “Oh, how I’d love to be like your mother and have a list of meals all planned out ahead of time!”. I couldn’t believe she remembered THAT. Yes, my mom had a hand-written list, with every day of the week, and the dinner that was planned for that evening. The list was posted on the fridge, and I could check to see what we were having for dinner for the next month. I believe we even had “Spaghetti Tuesday”! Thankfully, she did mix it up a bit, and didn’t reuse the same menu over and over. On occasion, my parents would even forego the menu plan and pick up a pizza on the way home work. That was always a treat.
Be Flexible! Once I was out on my own, I never had a list like that. In fact, I totally forgot about that list of my mom’s. Whether good or bad, I’ve always preferred to be a little more spontaneous when it comes to cooking. Sometimes my meal ideas are dictated by what is on sale at the grocery store that week. If it’s something I don’t end up freezing, I know I will have to cook it within a couple of days. I do keep a running list of things I’d like to make; either new recipes I want to try or ones I’ve made before and we really liked. Sometimes, it’s just to remind me to make a recipe with something I need to use up in the fridge/freezer. Other than that, the schedule is pretty flexible. I won’t lie to you, this sometimes leads to half-hour discussions of “I don’t know… what do YOU want for dinner?”. Ha Ha
Plan Ahead! Here is one recipe that I do somewhat plan ahead for. When roasting chickens go on sale, I always try to pick up at least two. If I have room in the freezer, maybe a couple more. The sale chickens are usually a bit smaller (2-3 pounds), and I can fit two of them in my big roasting pan side-by-side. Usually I cook the chickens, and then we end up eating a variety of chicken-based meals for a few days that week. Recently, I tried freezing the meat and that worked out great. We just removed all the skin and bones, and put the meat in Ziploc freezer bags.
Freezer Bags: I love my freezer bags. I had to buy some more yesterday, and realized they are actually “Glad” brand, and not “Ziploc”. I guess it’s like when you call facial tissue “Kleenex”. People usually know what you mean. I only use medium bags, so everything fits nicely in the freezer. I used to have a chest freezer, but we left that with the house when we moved. We now only have a side-by-side, so space planning is essential. I have even started writing the date with a permanent marker on the handy-dandy white strip they conveniently provided on the bag too. What a novel concept! I can’t tell you how many things went into our freezer, that I really wouldn’t know how long had been in there. If I hadn’t repackaged the meat, the butcher sticker from the grocery store was pretty helpful in letting me know that it was invariably always much longer than I had thought!!
Anyway, here is my favourite roast chicken recipe that I have been making for years. It was originally published by Today’s Parent in April 2005 (I had a link posted to the recipe, but they seem to have moved it).
High-Speed Lemon Roast Chicken
This recipe is so easy to make, and always turns out great.
- 1 3-4 lbs (1.5 to 2 kg) whole chicken
- 2 medium lemons
- 2 cloves of garlic, squished (can also use bottled, minced garlic. I sometimes add some extra garlic powder too!)
- 1 tsp (5 mL) salt
- 1/2 tsp (2 mL) dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp (2 mL) pepper (I like to use white pepper)
- Preheat the oven to 450 °F (230°C). Yes – that hot!
- Remove any giblets, if necessary. Rinse the chicken under cool running water. Pat dry with a paper towel. Place in a shallow baking dish or roasting pan.
- Cut one of the lemons in half and squeeze the juice from one lemon half into a small bowl (I use my glass measuring cup). Stir in the garlic, salt, thyme and pepper. With a basting brush, brush the lemon and spice mixture all over the chicken – inside and out. Cut the remaining one and a half lemons into quarters. Stuff as many lemon pieces as possible into the chicken – they may not all fit.
- Place the chicken in the baking dish, breast side down (no need to tie or truss the chicken). Roast in the oven for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, turn the chicken over onto its back (breast side up). Brush/baste the chicken with the pan juices. Continue roasting for another 40 to 60 minutes. Even though the recipe does not call for it, I like to baste mine again two more times during the final cooking period, one each after about 15 and 30 minutes. Once done, the chicken should be golden brown with crispy skin, and you should be able to freely wiggle the drumstick. If unsure, use a thermometre and check for a minimum internal temperature of 180° F/85° C.
- Remove chicken from the oven and let the stand for about 10 minutes.
- Transfer chicken to a cutting board. Remove lemon chunks and discard. Carve & Enjoy!
Double It! Whenever I roast chickens, I almost always try to cook two at the same time. When I do this, I just double the recipe.
Pan Juices: I usually discard the pan juices. I tried making gravy with them once but couldn’t get it to thicken. I think it’s probably due to the lemon juice. Maybe someone else has some tips for making a successful gravy…
Cooking Time: Just a word of warning, I find it always takes at least 10-20 minutes longer to cook than the original recipe called for (it recommended 40-45 minutes for the final roasting). I don’t think it’s my oven, because I’ve made this in both my old and new stove. It still takes longer whether I cook one chicken or two. The only thing I can think that might affect the cooking time is my roasting pan. Please let me know if this is the case for you, if (when) you try it.
Too Lemony? One last thing I wanted to mention. When I shared this recipe with someone once, they were very concerned that it would taste very “lemony”. Personally, I don’t find the chicken tastes like lemon at all. Most of the lemon is inside the cavity, which produces a deliciously moist and juicy chicken. I guess the skin tastes a bit lemony, since you are basting with the lemon juice… but who eats the skin these days anyway (okay, one little piece to “taste test” but that’s it).
Onion? If you want to change it up a bit, add some raw, peeled cooking onion, cut into wedges. Use a bit less of the lemon quarters if you need to make room for the onion. When making two chickens, I substitute one of the the lemons with an onion; three lemons and one onion (one lemon for juice, two quartered lemons and one medium onion wedges), divided equally between the two chickens.
Leftovers? Besides eating a chicken dinner, I use this chicken in any recipe that calls for diced or shredded chicken; pasta, mexican, asian, casseroles or just a nice chicken sandwich.
I’ll have to share some of those recipes another time, maybe on another… “Chicken Tuesday“.