Sunday dinners...remember them? Come home from church and mom would be in the kitchen for hours roasting some meat and peeling, boiling, mashing potatoes. My grandmother was fond of serving turnip and she mad an excellent cabbage slaw with a sweet-tart vinegar dressing. There was always dessert. Although if the meal was big enough and late enough, dessert might be turned into Sunday night supper.
Later, Sunday dinners were alternated between my parents' and my in-laws with siblings and their children also likely to be attending.
My point is that after so many years of being treated to Sunday dinners, I never really got too much in the habit of doing that kind of cooking myself. This is not to say that I don't occasionally jones for roasted something with all the trimmings in a fit of nostalgia for past generation.
I was in the store on Saturday and happened to see a woman hoisting a large roasting chicken onto the counter. All of a sudden I needed to get a roasting chicken.
On Sunday afternoon, I washed that chicken and patted it dry. I squirted lemon juice all over it--inside and out. Then I massaged it with a mixture of Dijon mustard, ground ginger, salt and pepper. I tossed a few carrots in the roasting pan. I wanted to use onions, but a certain member of the household strongly objects to visible onion touching any of his food. The roasting pan went into a hot oven (425).
The giblets and neck went into a sauce pan with 2 cups of chicken stock, a bouillon cube, and onion powder (sneaky me). I would normally have just chucked out the livers, but Mike fried them up and had them for an appetizer (ick). I left the saucepan to simmer slowly for about 45 minutes.
After the chicken had been roasting for a half an hour, I poured a cup of chicken stock in the pan and lowered the heat to 375. I basted a couple of times in the next half hour. Then I strained the really dark, rich stock from the simmering saucepan and added that, pouring it over the chicken and leaving it for another half an hour.
The meat is not quite falling off the bones now so I took out the roasting pan and covered it with a sheet of aluminum foil after basting once more. Another fifteen or twenty minutes should do it.
Here's where the tip comes in: Try not to hit the hot oven rack while replacing the roasting pan. Really try not to drop the pan on the open oven door, sloshing all that almost gravy-like sauce. Trust me, it makes a huge mess to clean up just when you want to be setting the table and pouring some wine.
And when the cleaning up is done, you will be overly tempted to get down the really huge wine glasses instead of the usual modest size.
This makes a delicious roasted chicken--with mashed potato and the roasted carrots, a pear tart for dessert, a generous glass of white wine--a fine and satisfying supper.
It won't be repeated any time soon, though. We'll go back to our habit of getting Chinese take-out on Sunday nights. The next time I hanker for a whole chicken, I'll pick a rotisserie cooked bird from the deli.