Without going into the glum and gory details, I recently had the misfortune to spend nearly three interminable weeks with a sadistic combination of sinusitis and bronchitis. Let’s just say I did not have fun. And I also went through mass quantities of tissue (sorry, trees!), used up almost an entire jar of Vicks VapoRub (small, but still…), and imbibed a truly shocking amount of hot herbal tea laced with honey (with predictable results). Plus, I was forced to go on an antibiotic, which….no, really, I’ll stop there.
To hasten my recovery and ease my sinus congestion, my wonderful husband cooked me spicy Mexican and Indian dishes. Delectable, yes, and helpful, but it soon became apparent I needed something much stronger. Something more comforting. Something mothers have prescribed for the savage sniffles probably since we first had noses to sniffle–and that recent studies have confirmed is actually effective (see, mom did know best!).
Something like homemade chicken soup.
But that meant we–okay, my wonderful husband–needed to roast a chicken ASAP because, while there may be confusion as to whether the chicken or the egg came first, when it comes to roast chicken and homemade chicken soup things are pretty straight-forward (at least in our home). That is, to make truly homemade chicken soup you need homemade chicken stock (and some chicken meat) and to make homemade chicken stock (and have some leftover meat for the soup) you must have a chicken carcass. So, first things first.
The easy method we use for roasting chicken is based on a recipe in the terrific French Farmhouse Cookbook, written by Susan Herrmann Loomis (1996), for “Simple Roast Chicken.” You’ll need:
~One whole chicken, about 3 to 4 pounds (I prefer an organically-fed, free-range, formerly-happy chicken)
~1/2 lemon (or, in a pinch, bottled lemon juice)
~salt and pepper
~fresh or dried rosemary, or another favorite herb
~about 4 cups roughly chopped vegetables (onions, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, garlic cloves, etc.)
1. After preheating the oven to 450 degrees, pat the chicken dry with paper towels, if needed, and sprinkle the cavity with salt and pepper (don’t forget to remove the giblets first!).
2. Squeeze lemon juice into the cavity and then insert the lemon, or just drizzle in some bottled lemon juice.
3. Place the chicken with the breast up in a large baking dish, and surround it with the chopped vegetables, but be careful you don’t layer them too thick or the chicken won’t brown properly.
4. Drizzle the vegetables with a little olive oil and scatter chopped fresh or dried rosemary over the chicken and vegetables.
5. Roast in the center of the oven until the vegetables are tender and the bird is golden and reaches a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees (see http://www.foodsafety.gov)–about an hour. Be sure to stir the vegetables once or twice during this time so they roast evenly.
6. Remove from the oven, season the outside of the chicken with more salt and pepper if desired, and flip it over to rest on its breast side for fifteen minutes before carving.
7. Properly refrigerate leftovers within two hours, and use the carcass to make soup within a day or two. Don’t have time to make soup in that time frame? No worries. Simply freeze the carcass and cook up the soup later.
I’ll show you how to make easy homemade chicken soup in tomorrow’s blog.
Thanks for reading,