Too Easy Chicken

Oct 10


Chicken Recipe, Anyone?

I have a foolproof recipe for roast chicken, but that’s not the point.

Although if you want to, you can skip to Read More, grab a chicken, and have at it.

As for the rest of you, this isn’t really about chickens, but  about expectations and reality. About the saying, “Be careful what you wish for because you will surely get it.” About being pleasantly (gleefully!) surprised about how well one thing wished-for and gotten turned out.

About how my honey built me a kitchen.

Yes, yes, I know. Most things you really, really want, The Spice Girls notwithstanding, don’t end up giving you that much pleasure. Things you felt you “had” to have: that car, that vacation, that guy . . . tend to disappoint in the long run. A few of them live up to your dreams. And a very, very few exceed your expectations and really do make a difference.

Kitchen10-10-2011Like the new kitchen I got a few years ago.

Actually, I was skeptical about how much good it would to do to remodel the old one (god knows it needed it) because of its long, narrow shape. Still, my husband seemed keen on the idea and wanted to do most of the work himself (he’s actually good at this), so I went forth and chose the tile, the backboard, the granite counter, the cabinets and the paint, and waited for my new kitchen to happen.

And waited. And waited. And waited.

It was supposed to be done for Thanksgiving, and barely made it for Easter. We lived on lasagna from the freezer and roast chicken from the diner, eating in a living room filled with boxes of pots and pans. A friend suggested that I might be able to speed up the job by sleeping with the contractor. But I was already doing that.

Meanwhile, the sink, stove and dishwasher were being rearranged (I didn’t know you could even do that) to form a single, continuous work space — replacing the small, cluttered areas of the original “design” if you could even call it that— and all kinds of cabinets were being built into every nook and cranny, including a slide-out pantry that alone was worth the wait.

Finally, in the fullness of time, the kitchen was finished. And something weird happened: I began cooking. Actual meals. With parsley and everything. Pretty good too, if I do say so myself.

But the strangest meal of all was The Too Easy Chicken . . .

I have this recipe, see, adapted fromThe Barefoot Countessa (and I can relate to that) and after the kitchen was operational, diner be damned, I was going to cook the bird myself!


dreamstime_xs_17099527I washed the chicken, rubbed sea salt inside, shoved a whole head of unpealed garlic, lots of fresh rosemary, thyme, and a halved lemon into the cavity (one half plugging up the you-should-pardon-the-expression hole), melted 2 tablespoons of butter and slathered every inch of the bird, salted it, surrounded it with sliced white onion, tied the legs and tucked the wings under, then picked up the pan and headed towards the pre-heated 350 oven, intending to test it after an hour or so. (The meat thermometer should read 160.)

Then I froze, in front of the stove, with the pan in mid-air, riddled with doubt.

This had all been easy. Too easy. What had I forgotten to do?

I wracked my overheated brain (standing in front of a hot stove is not a cooking tip I’d recommend) but couldn’t come up with anything. Then I realized what was “wrong.”

It had all been “too easy” because the kitchen was now functional. I didn’t have to continually move and shift and search. I wasn’t bumping into the dishwasher and dropping the butter while I dug around for the pan; I knew where it was: in the cabinet over the refrigerator.

Good heavens, did this mean that if I organized the rest of my life, paying bills and filing taxes would be easier too? Well, let’s not get carried away.

Meanwhile, that all-too-rare phenomenon had occurred:
A change in my life had actually changed my life. Not to mention the chicken’s.

This kitchen made such an impression on me that I wrote a song parody about it that was performed at my wedding by my cousin Pat Ciserano, the blues singer. Yes, dearies, Lou and I lived in sin — with a dilapidated kitchen no less —for a long time before we got hitched. Get over it.

Here’s the song, sung to the tune of Cry Me A River:

Now you say you’re hungry
You want some soup or stew
Well, you can build me a kitchen
Build me a kitchen
I’ll make a meatloaf just for you.

Now you say you’ll build it
But it’s long overdue
Well, I could cry me a river
Cry me a river
I’ll cry a river til it’s through.

You drove me
Nearly drove, right to the brink
When you couldn’t fix the sink
Remember, I remember, all of the stink:
Told me I was too demanding
Said your work was so outstanding

Now, you say you’re finished
I can’t believe it’s true!
You went and built me a kitchen
Man, what a kitchen
I’ll make a meatloaf just for you . . .

Pat had fun vamping that last line, as you might imagine.



If you want the recipe for meatloaf, go to
The Heart-Shaped Meatloaf

If you want to hear about the wedding:
A Wedding Tonight! or

The Wedding Bell Blues

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