1 in 5 children in this country are hungry. Half of the children in this country will be food insecure at some time in their lives.
Food politics in this country are messy and complicated: our government subsidizes the wrong things, factory farming creates more greenhouse gases than the cars on our planet, Monsanto has snuck in to every part of the average American’s diet, the quality of the food served in most American schools is crap, and the list goes on. It’s hard to know where to begin to fight. Food reality is also a travesty. Good quality, locally grown, nutritious food is way too scarce. People don’t know what a healthy diet is really. Nor do they know how to cook. I once read a great editorial in the New York Times, the premise of which was that we should bring back Home Economics in school. If we could teach people how to cook for themselves, we could solve so many of our health and economic issues.
I am making a small step to fight the good fight. It doesn’t have to be small however, if you’ll join in me.
Today more than 230 food bloggers are using their platforms to speak out against hunger in this country and encourage their readers to do the same. The timing is perfect as today Congress reconvenes after their spring break. Of course, budget issues are high on the agenda and we must make our voices heard to protect SNAP (food stamps). Please take thirty seconds and contact your representatives to speak out on this issue. Just follow this link to Share Our Strength’s website, fill in your name and address and hit send. It’s that easy, and yes it does matter. Just do it. Now. Please.
Today’s movement began as a response to the newly released documentary called A Place At The Table. I haven’t watched it in its entirety, but this trailer is compelling.
Nicole of The Giving Table is the blogger who organized this campaign and I was thrilled when I first read about it. Sure, we can sit around and talk about food all day long, post photos of our food porn on Instagram and Facebook, but really what’s it all about? For me, and for many other food bloggers, it’s about nourishing our families and our communities in the best way we know how, through healthy meals that feed our bodies and our souls. And if we can’t use our collective voices to help change the catastrophe of hunger in this country, then we’re not walking the talk.
In addition, we can use our skills in the kitchen to help others learn how to make delicious and healthy food on a budget.
So it’s in that spirit that I want to share with you a recipe that is very dear to me. I am not quite sure how Roasted Chicken came to be my absolute favorite thing to eat, or when it became such a cornerstone of my family’s life, but both of those things are true.
Years ago, before I really knew how to cook, I worked in a French restaurant in Chicago. Many experiences I had there contributed my life-long love affair with food and wine, and one of those was Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic. It’s a classic French dish, and if you’ve never had it, you should. Perhaps this is where it began?
A few years later I discovered Laurie Colwin, who is arguably my favorite food writer of all time. And no conversation about Roasted Chicken would be complete without mentioning her. Now there was a champion of the perfectly Roasted Chicken! Laurie wrote a column for Gourmet in the 1980’s and those are collected in the books Home Cooking and More Home Cooking. I do believe it was Laurie’s writing that really made me fall in love with the kind of perfect, simple food that can be cooked at home. Fancy restaurant dishes, whose menu descriptions are each a paragraph long, are certainly entertaining, but the kind of food that feeds our souls and ultimately changes the world is simple and made with love.
I roast a chicken almost every Sunday for our family dinner. I’ve done it so many times I can practically do it with my eyes closed. Over the years I’ve developed my perfect recipe, though I do sometimes dabble with other ideas. Some of those are quite delightful, but ultimately this is the recipe I come back to.
One of the beauties of Roasted Chicken is that it’s really three meals in one. Purchase a whole chicken for $5-$20, depending on the size and the quality, and the possibilities are endless. At the first meal it’s warm and comforting right out of the oven, then it’s chicken sandwiches for lunch the next day, and after that it’s a hearty bowl of chicken noodle soup. Even your dog or cat wins, if you’re willing to share the giblets with them. Economically speaking, a whole roasted chicken is a boon. Emotionally speaking it’s a reliable and comforting friend.
Once again, please take just a moment to contact your legislators. Make your voice heard. Make that your gift to the hungry among us today.
In the Introduction of More Home Cooking, Laurie Colwin writes:
“The table is a meeting place, a gathering ground, the source of sustenance and nourishment, festivity, safety, and satisfaction. A person cooking is a person giving. Even the simplest food is a gift.”
Sunday Roasted Chicken
By April 9, 2013Published:
- Yield: many Servings
This is the chicken I make almost every Sunday night. My kids sometimes grumble about it, but if we skip a week or two, they start asking for it. Basting with Pinot Gris gives the chicken, and the accompanying juice, just a slight zing. It's my favorite way, but chicken stock will do if that's all you've got on hand.
- 1 4-5 pound whole chicken the best quality you can afford
- 1 whole lemon
- 1 whole head of garlic
- kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon herbes de provence
- 1 1/2 cups Pinot Gris for basting (you can use chicken stock, but it's not the same)
- Preheat the oven to 400.
To avoid having to wash my hands 10 times in the process of getting the chicken ready for the oven, I like to set out everything I'm going to need.
- Cut the lemon and the garlic head in half. Put a couple of tablespoons of salt and 1 or 2 teaspoons of pepper in a small dish. Same with the herbes de provence.
- Remove the neck and any giblets from the cavity of the chicken. Using paper towel, pat the chicken dry inside and out.
- Place the chicken, breast side up, in a roasting dish. Rub the chicken inside and out with the salt. Squeeze the juice from the lemon halves onto the outside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with all the lemon and garlic. Sprinkle the pepper and the herbes de provence all over the outside of the chicken. I also put the neck and giblets (but not the liver) into the pan. They'll help to flavor the juice. When they come out of the oven, I give them to to the dog.
- Place the roasting pan in the oven. After about 15 minutes reduce the heat to about 375.
- Baste the chicken with about half of the Pinot Gris. I just pour it over the bird, I don't bother with a baster or anything. Continue to baste every 15 minutes or so. Eventually you'll be spooning the juices up from bottom of the roasting pan to pour back over the bird.
- After about an hour and 15 minutes your chicken will be done. To test wiggle one of the drumsticks, if it moves easily, it's done. Or prick it in the thigh and see if the juices run clear. If they are it's not done yet.
- Cover the chicken very well with foil and let rest for at least 15 minutes. (Since your oven is still hot, this is a good time to throw some asparagus or broccoli in there to roast).
- After the chicken has rested cut it into serving pieces. (Notice I didn't say carve, as that sounds too fussy - just cut it as best you can and don't worry too much about it). Serve it on a platter.
- There'll be lots of nice juice (my brother calls it "the love") in the bottom of the roasting dish. Pour that into a small pitcher and pass it at the table. (We like to dip our crusty bread into the juice)