chicken, twice

With Christmas only two weeks from today, we’re all about saving money wherever we can right now (not that we begrudge the spending of money for Christmas, we just want to save as much money as we can so that we can give as much as possible!). This week is all about chicken. When I looked through my cookbooks this morning, everything using chicken seemed to jump out at me, and so that’s what we’re doing for the week. I went to the store and managed to get ingredients for 5 dinners for under $30 (!). I know that some of you are wonder women and can feed your family for $1 per person per meal, but I have not attained that skill as of yet, so $30 for 5 dinners is pretty good for me. So for tonight and tomorrow, we’re using the same whole chicken. At $0.98 per pound, our little fryer came to $4.54. Tonight she’s getting roasted with lemon and croutons, and tomorrow night I will use what’s left for a chicken noodle soup (I could say that I’ll be using the carcass, but I really despise that word when it comes to things I’ll be eating and it always reminds me of that Martha Stewart parody where they spray painted the thanksgiving turkey carcass gold and used it as a christmas card holder). Here is tonight’s recipe:

Lemon Chicken with Croutons
from this great cookbook
1 (4-5 pound) roasting chicken
1 large yellow onion, sliced
good olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons, quartered
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
6 cups bread cubes

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Take the giblets out of the chicken and wash it inside and out. My trick here is to wear latex gloves. Having two medical professionals in my close family, I am blessed with an unending supply of these. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers. Toss the onion with a little olive oil in a small roasting pan. Place the chicken on top and sprinkle the inside of the cavity with salt and pepper. Place the lemons inside the chicken. Pat the outside of the chicken dry with paper towels, brush it with the melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.

(I put the onions on a roasting rack and put the chicken on top of them.)

Roast for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Cover with foil and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. (The onions may burn, but the flavor is good.)

Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil until very hot. Lower the heat to medium-low and saute the bread cubes, tossing frequently, until nicely browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add more olive oil, as needed, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the croutons on a serving platter.
Slice the chicken and place it, plus all the pan juices, over the croutons. Sprinkle with salt and serve warm.

I’ve made this twice before with varied results. The first time was for an outdoor party and it was a huge hit – the croutons were delish. The second time (not sure what the occasion was) the croutons were only mediocre, and I don’t remember why. This time, they were quite good again, so let me tell you exactly what I did with them. I used 2-day-old ciabatta bread from Safeway (it wasn’t dried out though). I sauteed it as required, and I think the trick may be to use plenty of olive oil. Then I put it on the serving platter, put the chicken on top of it, and poured the cooking juices from the roasting pan all over (as required). The croutons do a great job of soaking up all those tasty juices. Good luck!


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