I don’t know why, but after I married Sunday dinner became a special event. Prior to becoming a married woman I was in college and “Sunday Dinner” most often consisted of soup cooked in a pot designed to boil water. When I married I wanted to make our Sunday Dinners something that took a little more time and effort than usual supper fare.
As a newlywed I was a military wife and we didn’t have alot of disposable income but I wanted to prepare a meal that was worthy of candles and breaking out the good china – all two place settings. Chicken was my go-to protein. Not only was it inexpensive but you could really dress it up with sides and sauces. As out family and income grew I started including pork and beef. Most often it was a rump roast but with the proper cooking and the right sides it was something the family looked forward to sharing (including on one occasion our Lhasa Apso and Siamese cat who, working together managed to steal the roast from the counter and make a beeline for the basement to enjoy their spoils!)
Of all the Sunday dinners roast chicken remains my favorite. This week whole chickens were on sale so we decided beer can chicken would be perfect for Sunday dinner. Until Sunday. Sunday dawned cold and windy. The temperature hovered in the mid forties (F) and the wind was blowing at a steady 15 to 20 miles per hour with much stronger gusts. Enthusiasm for beer can chicken blew out with the dust devils that were playing along the acequia. On to plan B – a whole roasted chicken.
I put the neck, gizzards and livers in a pot with some water and set it on low to simmer. Boz and Zoey would be treated to the livers and the neck meat while I would use the resulting liquid for my gravy.
I rubbed the interior with salt, pepper and some julienned fresh sage. I peeled four large carrots and cut them in half lengthwise. The carrots went into a lightly oiled baking pan. They would act as a rack to keep the chicken elevated enough to allow the skin to crisp up all the way around and, after roasting with all that chicken juice, would be our vegetable for that evening. Mashed potatoes (what else!) would round out the dinner.
When the oven temperature reached 425 degrees F I put the bird (a little over 5 lbs. Whatever happened to the three pound chicken!) in to cook for 90 minutes. As the time slipped past the kitchen began to take on the mouthwatering smell of roasted bird.
After 90 minuted I checked the bird and it was ready to come out and rest while I made the gravy and mashed the potatoes. George set the table, opened a bottle of wine and we were ready to eat.
While I didn’t get out the good china or light candles it was still a special Sunday Dinner. The tradition continues.