Tuesday, October 21, 2014

No Recipe recipe: Throw A Chicken in the oven!

Real food shouldn't be that complicated, right?  But sometimes it just is.   Jobs, kids, housework, errands, and life in general can get in the way.  Not to mention our culture's elevated expectations of a home cooked dinner.  (Thanks, restaurants.)

When I read my vintage magazines and cookbooks I always notice how simple the meals sound.  Yes, there are some organ meats on occasion and Jello makes an appearance in both sweet and savory forms, but most recipes are for busy families who want a nutritious meal.  (Isn't that what we want today too?)  Real food was a given.  That's all there was until about the 50's.  I also note how little detail was given in the instructions.  The reader is assumed to have some basic cooking knowledge, even those written for the new bride.  Tracie McMillan elaborates on this point in her book, The American Way  of Eating.  See my review here.  Better yet pick up a copy and read it for yourself!  (I don't personally know Tracie- just really loved her book.)

So what does a quasi-foodie mom make for dinner on soccer/rehearsal night (Both my daughters are into theater.  Two different shows at two different locations with two different schedules.  My car is three years old and has almost 50K miles!) when there's also a Target run on the agenda?  She throws a chicken in the oven!

Check out the video on You Tube!

The details:

1 Whole chicken with the organ sack removed from the body cavity
3-4T Olive oil
A mixture of herbs:  Garlic, Savory, Rosemary, Thyme (Others that are good are Sage, Parsley, Oregano, Basil, or Paprika.  Any combination is good, assuming you like the herb.)
Salt and Pepper
An onion if you have it
A lemon if you have it
1/2C White wine if you have it

Preheat the oven to either 350 or 300.  See note below*.

Mix all of the herbs, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Coat chicken with olive oil.  Rub the entire bird with the herb mixture.  Pour the wine over the chicken.  Squeeze the lemon over the chicken.  Put a few onion and squeezed lemon quarters in the cavity.  Sprinkle the herb mixture in there too.

Add any veggies you want.  (Potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, Brussels spouts are good.  See my Vegetable post for more details.)    Coat with olive oil and sprinkle with the herb mixture if you have any left or just use salt and pepper.

Cover the chicken with tin foil.  Cook for 1 hour at 350.  Uncover and cook for another 20 minutes to brown the top.  You can speed up the browning by raising the temp to 425.

That's it!  YUMMMMMM.

That note* about the oven temp.  If you are making this ahead or aren't going to be home (and feel comfortable leaving the oven on a low temp) set the oven to 300.  You'll need to cook the chicken for at least 90 minutes.  If you are concerned use a meat thermometer to check for doneness when you get home.  If I remember correctly the temp in the thigh should be 165.  (I think my meat thermometer is buried in the backyard of my old house.  Long story.  There were lots of neighborhood kids over one snow day and it's been missing ever since.)  Your meat thermometer will have the correct temps for many kinds of meat marked on the dial.

Total prep time can be five minutes, once you make this a few times.  Tonight I made it while my son got his snack and found his uniform.  (It was all ready for him!)  My oldest daughter came home 10 minutes before me and raised the oven temp and took off the foil so it was really ready to hit the table within minutes of walking in the door.  Nice!



  1. I love your anecdotes as always. 50k miles in 3 years! I hope to hear the buried meat thermometer story someday. Oh, and the chicken looks marvelous!

    1. Thanks, Averyl. I love sharing the stories. Makes me look back and laugh- something that isn't always so easy when I'm going thru it!

      I hope you're doing well! :)