LONGLEAF STORIES

full circle in the hundred acre wood

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Easy. Convenient. Low fat. They can be bought in large bags, dipped in a saline bath and individually frozen so that we may remove one, two or more. Useful for busy days.

You know there’s a “but” here. And you’re right.

Yesterday morning, for some reason, the remembered smell of a whole roasted chicken began to insinuate itself into my frontal lobes. Couldn’t shake it. Then I began thinking of mashed potatoes.

That was it. I grabbed the car keys and headed for the grocery store.

It was already four in the afternoon, so I bought a larger fryer rather than a roasting chicken, along with some golden potatoes, fresh Brussels sprouts, carrots and an onion.

For the chicken, I pre-heated the oven to 425, then rubbed a little salt and pepper inside, and stuffed it with a lemon cut in half, an entire head of garlic sliced in half (knife in the middle, not top to bottom), a bunch of fresh marjoram (wanted thyme, but the store didn’t have any and the marjoram was beautiful), then sprinkled a little lemon juice, salt and pepper on the outside, plus rubbed in a bit of olive oil. Popped it in the oven. I cooked it at 425 for about 25 minutes, then reduced the temp to 325 and added a dish of veggies to the oven to roast. The veggies were whole carrots, an onion chopped into quarters and the Brussels sprouts. Drizzled that concoction with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and dried thyme.

Soon, our cottage began to almost vibrate with the unmistakable aroma of roasting chicken. Buck and Maggie almost passed out from delight when they came in from the woods. And when Buck saw those mashed potatoes (you know they are authentic when there are still a few lumps) his eyes were like a child’s on Christmas morning.

I meant to take a picture. I really did. But we fell on that dinner like a pack of hungry dogs.

The chicken was crisp and brown on the outside, and densely flavored and moist on the inside. The garlic, lemon and marjoram had worked their magic, but barely left a fingerprint.

It was a reminder of something I knew, but had almost forgotten: a whole chicken, cooked with its parts still connected, just tastes better. A lot better.

 

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