Monday, March 29, 2010

Food: Recipes for survival #2

Last week I showed you how to make the least expensive recipe I know, a kind of inside-out "cabbage roll" recipe in a skillet.  Today, I have two recipes for you... one for the carnivores and one for the vegetarians, because there is no possible way I know of to make a vegetarian version of roast chicken.

And every kid (who eats meat) should leave home knowing how to roast a chicken.  It's a simple way to impress the new in-laws when they get them, because it easily translates to the skills for roasting a turkey.  Did you know that the Butterball company sets up an 800 number every Thanksgiving as a sort of "hotline" to help people with roasting their turkeys?  And they get over 100,000 calls every year?

The other recipe is a recent favorite of mine, a simple three-bean salad that will not only be a good main dish for the vegetarian crowd, but will go great as a side dish for the chicken.

If you're working with a raw chicken, be sure to stress to your kids that it is VERY IMPORTANT that they wash their hands any time they've touched the chicken BEFORE they touch anything else.  And they should wipe down the faucet handle, too.

Roast Chicken

1 whole roasting chicken
vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Remove the chicken from its packaging, being sure to remove any giblets from the main cavity.  Some companies pack the giblets in paper or plastic before stuffing them in there, some just put them in.  Either way, they will slow down the cooking time and make the pan drippings look disgusting if you leave them in.  So they have to go.  (I save all the livers in a freezer container on the off chance I might feel like making some kind of chicken-liver pate some day.  I never do, but if you might, chuck it on into a container.  They'll keep in the freezer at a suitable texture for pate for up to six months.)  Rinse the bird inside and out to get rid of any packaging material that might stick to the skin and giblet bits that might stick to the inside.  Why they put a fluffy, absorbent material that falls apart right next to the bird is beyond me, but rinse it off.

Prepare a pan large enough for the bird to have clearance of at least an inch on all four sides.  If it has a rack, set it in the bottom.  If you do not have a roasting rack for that pan, a layer of root vegetables, such as carrots or potatoes will work well.  These would even be edible after, but not very pretty.   Just throw enough 1" chunks in the bottom to keep the bird from swimming in its own juices.  Place the bird in the pan.

Take a small amount of vegetable oil and rub it on the bird's exterior.  Pretend you're working a day spa for chickens.  Salt and pepper to your own family's taste, both inside and out.  Place in the oven.  Roast the chicken for 15 minutes per pound... this usually works out to an hour and fifteen minutes for the average chicken.  (Turkeys being larger need a longer time for cooking... check the Butterball website for a handy calculator.  An unstuffed 14 pound bird will take 3 1/2 hours to roast from a completely thawed state.)

Unless you're using some kind of special sauce, chickens do not need basting.  You'll know it's done when you can grab a leg and it moves freely.  A thermometer inserted at the thick part of the thigh (but NOT touching bone) should read 165 degrees F.

Carving is a whole 'nother post.

Three-bean Salad

1 (16oz) can cut green beans, drained
1 (16oz) can cut yellow wax beans, drained
1 (16oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup thinly sliced onion rounds, cut in half
2 Tbs. Parsley, chopped
2/3 C vinegar
1/2 C Sugar
1/3 C vegetable oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Mix beans, onion, and parsley in a large bowl.  Mix the remaining ingredients in a 2 quart saucepan.  Heat the vinegar mixture just to boiling, stirring occasionally.  Pour over beans and toss.

Cover and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, at least three hours or until chilled.

*End of Recipes*

The three-bean salad has many options.  Make it a four-bean salad by adding garbanzo beans.  Add crispy, crumbled bacon right before serving, if you're not using it as a vegetarian main dish.  Some people use lima beans.  No thank you.  I just don't like their texture.

The dressing for a traditional three-bean salad is quite heavy on the sugar.  I've added it as-is to this recipe, but feel free to experiment if you want a low-sugar option, or try honey.


  1. I'm a big fan of the roasted chicken. I usually stick a lemon, cut in half, up the wazoo which gives it a light lemony flavor.

  2. Me too! I wanted to keep it simple for the kids, though, so I did not include my old favorite recipe for Orange sticky chicken. When I get done with this series though, I might have to post that one.