I think there’s a lot to be said about the importance of the family meal. I grew up in a household that ate together every single night. If someone was going to be late getting home, then we waited. Each and every night we ate together. Now, in my adult life I place a huge emphasis on that very same practice. It’s something that’s truly important to me.
These days with everyone’s busy schedules I think that many families have strayed away from this tradition. You hear (or at least I do) a lot about the importance of eating as a family. That says to me that many families eat separately, on their own schedule if we need to be told of the importance. Family meals foster security and love, as well as feelings of belonging. Dinner time is also the prime opportunity to lead by example and show your children table manners. They will mimic what they see you do. (Which their dates will appreciate for many years to come, I assure you. As well as any other person who must be in the same vicinity dining with them.) These family meals open the lines of communication within your family and help bonding. There have even been studies that show children in families who eat together on most nights have a lower risk of substance abuse and higher grades. Who knew that such a simple thing as making sure that the entire family sits around the same table most nights could have such a profound impact?
Now, I don’t know if it was because my mother made sure we all ate dinner together or not but I do know that I tend to have a “the more, the merrier” type attitude when it comes to dinner time. We live in a very small (ahem… I mean, “cozy”) home that barely accommodates myself, my husband, two daughters and a very large German Shepherd who does not realize that she is absolutely gigantic. However, on a regular basis (sometimes several times a week) I invite family over to share in our dinners. Not only do we eat as a family each and every night but we share that experience with our parents and siblings as well because it’s those moments that matter. That hour or so that we all pause from real life while sitting to enjoy a meal together is priceless. It allows us all to catch up and stay connected. It’s such a simple thing that truly has a big impact on our family as a whole.
Which brings me to the chicken. The other night we had Mike’s family over, as we so often do and I prepared a roast chicken. This is a simple task. I often hear people say “Oh, I can’t make a turkey” or “I can’t make a whole chicken.” Yes! You can! I assure you, this is not difficult. I think the idea of cooking a whole bird can be intimidating to some, but in reality it is not. So feast your eyes below and share this dinner with your family. The payoff is profound.
Whole Roasted Chicken
1 large whole chicken (5-7 lbs)
butter, softened (don’t have an exact measurement for you but read on and you can wing it)
1 whole lemon
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
Sea Salt (I prefer to use McCormick Garlic Sea Salt grinder… you can just use minced garlic and sea salt if you like)
Pepper (I prefer to use McCormick Peppercorn Medley Grinder however, any fresh ground pepper will do)
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Remove the giblets from the chicken cavity. Rinse the entire chicken inside and out well. Pat dry.
- Pierce the lemon several times with a sharp knife. Place the lemon inside the chicken then place the rosemary sprigs inside the cavity, around the lemon.
- With kitchen string, tie the legs of the chicken together then place the chicken in a roasting pan, breast side up.
- Here comes the butter! Ok, butter every inch of that chicken. I’m talking “Paula Deen-esque” amounts of butter, y’all. Spread it all over the chicken in copious amounts cause this will yield your crispy skin. (I never claimed this was health food… just good food.)
- Next, sprinkle the chicken with the garlic sea salt and freshly ground pepper. And that’s it! See? Easy.
- Place the chicken in the 450 degree oven for 15 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and cook the chicken 20 minutes per pound or until the juices run clean.
- Remove the chicken from the oven, cover it loosely with foil and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. Then slice and serve.
- PS… Don’t forget to make gravy from all those juices in the bottom of your roasting pan. Throw that over medium heat. Mix a little flour and water together. Stir that into the chicken juices. As it bubbles, it will thicken. Season it with more salt and pepper, if necessary.
This was just a candid shot Mike took while I was slicing the chicken but I decided to include it. Despite it being a terrible picture in composition, sharpness and just about every other level I like it because it’s true to life. Dirty jeans… Flour on them from making gravy. A towel over my shoulder because I wash my hands about 20 times as I cook. Despite the fact that you can’t clearly see my face, I can tell I’m happy and smiling. Then there’s Maddy, playing yet holding onto my legs… That is every day. The child is attached to me. A terrible shot in every way when analyzed by a photographer’s eye but a perfect shot to me.