Saturday nights used to be for dinners out and club hopping. But I do enough of that during the week for my day job at The New York Post. Now—nesting with my boyfriend in my mid-30s—Saturday nights are for roasting chicken.
A whole roast chicken is healthier than ordering Chinese food. It provides enough meat for dinner tonight and sandwiches the next morning. And it’s so easy—line up butter, lemon, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper and the bird, baste and cook—that you don’t have to spend much time prepping in the kitchen. I missed not one off-color joke during the “Will & Grace” marathon I was committed to while I roasted my chicken.
Many chefs, including the legendary Julia Child, will say you can judge a chef’s skill or the quality of a restaurant by their roast chicken. A roasted bird can also make any gal look like wifey material—Glamour magazine swears their roasted bird recipe has helped so many women get engaged, they have branded a recipe they call their “engagement chicken.” I’ve had a few people ask me why I just didn’t make Glamour’s chicken in the first place if I wanted to get engaged: “You could have saved yourself so much time, and money on groceries.” The answer is simple—roast chicken didn’t excite my man that lazy Sunday in June. Sandwiches did.
But since then, my chicken roasting abilities have impressed E. A few hours before I was going to fire up the oven, E popped his head out of the office to help. “I was looking at a few recipes. Some suggest you salt the bird for a few hours before you start cooking.”
“I know,” I said. “I just rubbed the entire chicken in salt and pepper. When I come back from the store, then I’ll start cooking.”
“Well, look at you,” he said, smiling. If this were two years ago, I would have had E babysit me through the process. Or he would have made the entire dinner while I swilled wine and flipped through his Spotify playlist. But now, after some practice in the kitchen thanks to this lil’ ol blog, I got this.
After I popped the bird into the oven, E volunteered to baste every 20 minutes or so (ok, this is the real reason I didn’t miss any of the jokes on “Will & Grace.”) He carved the bird, I scooped roasted vegetables and a quick salad onto plates, and dinner was served. The next day, I made sandwiches for brunch with my chicken leftovers.
Most people use fried chicken for their chicken and waffle sandwiches, but being that we’re going to be eating a pilgrim’s feast of heavy foods from next week through the holidays, I wanted to keep as many meals on the lighter side as I could. I used the roasted chicken as the base, then roasted slices of tomatoes in a small baking dish, since E hates raw sliced tomatoes. Bacon, red leaf greens and honey dijon completed the sandwich.
(I did go the prepackaged route and used Van’s Belgian waffles for my bread. But perhaps one of Santa’s little elves will get me a waffle machine for Christmas so I can make waffles from scratch. Maybe an elf that’s about six foot tall and blonde? “If you’re nice and not naughty,” E told me while throwing me some serious side-eye.)
4-5 slices chicken
4 Belgian waffles
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
4 slices bacon
4-5 leaves of red leaf lettuce
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and pepper
(My quick and dirty recipe for roast chicken: 1 stick softened butter. Thyme, rosemary, one sliced lemon, salt, pepper. Season bird with salt and pepper. Stuff cavity with lemon slices, thyme and rosemary. Slather skin of bird with half the butter. Tie legs together with twine, tuck wings under body cavity, and pop in oven at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Baste with more butter, and turn oven to 350 degrees. Cook for another hour, check and baste bird with rest of butter every 20 minutes. Remove from oven, let rest, carve and serve.
You can use regular sliced tomatoes for the sandwich if you like. But if your man is picky and wants them roasted, slice two tomatoes and layer in small baking dish, sprinkle on kosher salt, pepper and fresh parsley, drizzle on olive oil, pop in oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.)
To make sandwiches—toast waffles. Smooth on dijon mustard, the red leaf lettuce, then tomatoes, then lettuce, then chicken, the bacon, then top with waffle. Cut in half on the diagonal. Makes two sandwiches.
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