Growing up, I was the luckiest kid on the block. Not only was my Mom the wisest, coolest and most beautiful Mom, but she was also the best and most dedicated cook (I'm not biased at all).
She worked five, sometimes six days a week, yet she made breakfast, lunch and dinner for my dad, brother and I every single day. These homecooked dishes were made with fresh ingredients and a lot of love.
With all that practice in the kitchen, it's no wonder why she was (and still is to this day) the best cook I know.
Because Mother's Day is this Sunday, I'm dedicating The Concentric Circle to my Mom this week and sharing with you some photos, stories and adapted versions of her best dishes. I say adapted because Mom doesn't write down recipes. Even though she's made most of these dishes for more than 30 years, she still can't tell me the exact measurements on any of them. She just knows how to execute them by heart--and perfectly.
I've tested the recipes you'll see this week at least a dozen times in order to get the measurements. Although I don't think I'll ever be able to make any of these dishes exactly like Mom would, I've gotten as close as I know how.
I begin with Mom's roasted chicken recipe because this was, by far, the dish we had the most when I was growing up. No other dish makes me think of Mom quite like this one. I added rosemary, but I think she'll approve.
1 4-to-5 pound chicken
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, cut into four rings
4 fresh rosemary sprigs
1 garlic head, cut in half horizontally
1/2 lemon, cut into four cubes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and arrange the oven rack so it's in the center of the oven.
Lay the onion slices in the center of the roasting pan (a large Pyrex casserole dish will work fine).
Remove the gizzards from the inside of the chicken and discard. Place the chicken on a plate and pat its skin dry. Run your finger underneath the breast skin to create space so that you can place the cubed butter underneath the skin. Then, rub about a teaspoon of salt inside the cavity and stuff the garlic, rosemary and lemon inside. Using kitchen twine, tie the legs together.
Arrange the chicken on top of the onions, breast-side up, and so that the chicken isn't touching the bottom of the roasting pan. Tuck the wings underneath the chicken. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and massage it into the skin. Sprinkle the remaining salt and pepper all over the chicken.
Bake for approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until the chicken's skin is browned and the juices run clear when the thigh is pricked with a skewer or the tip of a knife.
Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving.
Related posts on The Concentric Circle:
Zazu: The exception to the no-roasted-chicken out rule, with a cherry on top
Recipe: Basil roasted chicken