Did you grow up having Sunday dinner? When I was young, we ate at the dinner table together almost every night. Even when we went camping, we had a central table, complete with tablecloth and a flower arrangement (sometimes in a beer bottle vase). There were exceptions, like the special occasions when my brother and I were allowed to sit on the tiled steps leading into the family room with a view of the television. Those nights felt like a little treat because they didn’t happen often; we ate together at the table.
Do families still maintain a nightly dinner together nowadays? It feels like a significant part of my childhood. The dinner table was where we reconnected and talked about our days. It’s where my brother and I learned good manners. It was a time when, after work and school and extracurricular activities, we came together as a family.
For many families, Sunday dinner is a tradition that goes back generations. Moms would put together a roast or a chicken and pop it in the oven before going to church. The whole family would come home to an early dinner, passing something delicious around the table and spending the rest of the afternoon and evening together. Regardless of what happened during the week, Sunday was a time for family- and it centered around the table. One of the things I love most about cooking is that food brings people together.
I’ve mentioned my friend, Nancy, before. She’s a fabulous cook with a knack for creating something delicious without a recipe. I knew that she had a roasted chicken recipe with lots of herbs and lemon. I asked her for the recipe, and did some research into John’s mother’s recipe books, too. Not surprisingly, the roasted chicken recipes from two different generations were not all that different. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
I feel like I should give a disclaimer that it’s not easy to delicately demonstrate how to make this recipe. The poor chicken is shown in some…well, compromising positions. But the method is straightforward and the results were delicious. I started by washing the bird and patting it dry. Hello, chicken.
First the herbs. Under the skin of the breasts, I tucked whole sprigs of fresh herbs: thyme, rosemary, and basil. I also put some inside the chicken. Next, I did the same thing with thick slices of garlic, under the skin and inside.
I placed the birdie on the roasting pan and squeezed the juice of a whole lemon over it, then put the lemon halves inside with the herbs and garlic. I generously seasoned the chicken all over with salt and pepper.
And now, butter. I took a page from John’s delicious Thanksgiving turkey method and covered the bird with pats of butter. I tucked a couple inside, too. I didn’t truss the chicken, but you could tie the legs together if you’d prefer. This chicken is ready to roast!
Before I covered it, I added some veggies to the roasting pan: quartered onions and big chunks of carrot and celery. I poured some white wine over them, all around the bird. I covered the pan with foil and let it roast in the oven for an hour or so before taking off the foil to let it brown for another 45 minutes.
While the chicken roasted, I put together a simple garlic potato dish and put it in the oven toward the last half of the cooking time. I used a meat thermometer to gauge when the chicken was done. (Full disclosure: it was my first time using this thermometer and the chicken wasn’t done. We put it back into the oven for awhile. Another lesson in reading directions.)
When the chicken was (finally) done, he was browned and crispy on the outside. John sliced some juicy pieces for each of us, which we ate with the roasted veggies and ‘taters.
The chicken was ridiculously moist and flavorful, thanks to all of the stuffings and seasonings. I poured the seasoned juices from the pan over my plate, which I highly recommend. The bits of crispy skin were delightful. The only way this meal could have been better was if we were sharing it with a table full of family.
Do you have a Sunday dinner tradition? Share with me!
Sunday Roasted Chicken (courtesy of Nancy and Isabelle)
- A 4-5 pound chicken
- 1 lemon
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 3 or more sprigs of fresh herbs (I used rosemary, basil, and thyme)
- 1 stick of butter, sliced into pats
- Salt and pepper
- 3/4 -1 cup of white wine
- Large chunks of celery, carrot, and onion
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Wash the chicken and pat it dry. Loosen the skin above the breasts and insert most of the herbs and garlic, placing the rest inside the cavity. Transfer to a roasting pan. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice all over the chicken, placing the halves in the cavity. Generously salt and pepper the whole bird. Cover it with butter pats, including a few inside. Under the chicken, place the veggies. Pour wine around the chicken, over the veggies. Cover the pan with foil and roast for an hour. Remove foil and roast for another hour, or until the meat thermometer reads at least 165 degrees. (Be sure you read the thermometer instructions.) Serve slices of chicken with the roasted veggies and cheers to Sunday traditions and family. YUM.
Hungry for more? Check out the collection of recipes on the FOOD BLISS page.
One year ago: “Single gal” herbed shrimp pizza.