Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What's With Wednesday? Chicken In The Middle Of The Week

Chicken used to be a Sunday kind of thing....there'd be a huge roaster in the oven, started right after coming home from church and breakfast was cleared. The bird was so big, almost like a little turkey.
Sometimes the hen was stuffed, sometimes not-but always roasted with a bunch of potatoes, carrots and onions. I remember those days clearly!
The chicken even tasted different back then; it was fresh.  It had a slightly sweet flavor...even a bit buttery if the hen was younger.

These days, between hormones and other forced-growing methods, caging, beaking and other horrendous practices, our very own chicken seems to have become a shadow of its former self.  Relegated to fast food menus, frozen, breaded patties and ground meat one would hardly recognize the venerable centerpiece that once only graced the Sabbath table.

We are fortunate however, that there are still a few poultry companies out there that have a conscience.  The result of this is a chicken that tastes right, smells right, cooks right and is one that you'd be glad to offer as a main course dish, whole or cut up.

Mind you, I've not seen many the size Mom used to get for our family meal-those things were BIG! But none the less, the quality is there.  When I shop I look for two things....healthiness and affordability. They are first and foremost in my mind as I view my list and trawl the aisles.

Safeway's Natural Brand
Safeway offers "Open Nature" brand poultry....meaning it's not been fed with anything nasty like hormones and antibiotics....given whole grains and so on.  It's a bit more pricey than the other varieties, and I'll confess that I can't always get "Open Nature," but I have tried it and it tasted really good...almost brought a tear to my eye.

But my wallet has the deciding vote. Mostly I'm left with Foster Farms...and when even that is priced too high, I get the lesser grade store brand. Fine quality, don't get me wrong. But you do get what you pay for. I've often been able to get the higher quality via the Mark-Down Bin, so that's a good place to start for poultry shopping excursions.

Be careful though!  Bring the meat over to your shopping cart and look at the color there-away from the special pink lights.  Smell the package. Feel the package.  If you can smell it, or the package feels sticky make sure it isn't opened somewhere.  If it is, don't - repeat DON'T buy it!  Return it if you can to the meat counter attendant.  Wash your hands soon as you can!

With so much of it available and so many different ways to cook it, Chicken doesn't have to be for Sunday anymore. So what's with Wednesday?  Why not chicken?



LEMONY CHICKEN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WEEK

2 or more lemons
2 TBS Dijon mustard
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh parsley chopped fine
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp dried rosemary

black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
Garlic powder for extra flavoring
1 whole chicken about 3-4lbs
1 1/4  lbs small red potatoes cut in half

Preheat oven to 350
Squeeze lemons, set squeezed lemon halves aside for later use.
Combine parsley, garlic, rosemary, lemon juice, oil, pepper, salt, mustard and garlic in a bowl and blend well.
Set aside 2 TBS of this mixture for later use.

Put the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan-hint-use release spray or oil on rack and on pan for non-stick and easier clean-up! Gently slide your fingers between the meat and skin all around the bird, including breast, thighs and so on...careful not to tear the skin.  Spoon the remaining (larger amount not the 2 TBS reserved) between the skin and the meat all the way around.  Give it a rub while you're at it.
Sprinkle the outside with Garlic powder if you want to.
Place the lemon halves in the cavity.  Put in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss the potatoes with the remaining lemon/parsley juice.
Slice additional lemon(s) into disks. Set aside 'til the last 10  minutes of cooking.
Arrange around the chicken and put back in the oven to bake for an hour, or until juices run clear.
During the last 10 minutes, add the lemon disks to the top of the chicken and put it back for the reminder of the baking time.
The internal temperature of the chicken should be 180 degrees.
Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Serve with rice, sweet green peas and a nice salad.

Lemony and light...Chicken on Wednesday. Why not?

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