Lemon roast chicken is a winter treat
Allen Park, where I lived, flooded the baseball field every winter for an honest-to-goodness ice skating rink. If you were cool in the mid-1960s, you hung out in the evenings at the skating rink. I was never cool, but I wanted to be.
I wanted desperately to be as popular as the petite, cute cheerleaders with their button noses and long, silky tresses, but I had been the tallest, skinniest kid in school since kindergarten, I wore braces and I sported a bad haircut in those days. Cool was not in my personal lexicon.
I went to the skating rink anyway. It was quite a ways from our house, and in those days if you wanted to go anywhere and you were a kid, you walked.
After dinner, in the dark and cold, I would bundle up, grab my white skates in their red-plaid bag and spend 20 minutes trudging across town to the rink. My best friend would meet me halfway.
The town kept a bonfire going next to the rink so we could warm up a little, or we could fight the crowd inside at the snack bar where everyone wanted hot chocolate. We weren't encouraged to linger inside, though. You came to skate, by golly, get out there and skate!
Someone always started crack-the-whip, and I dreaded being the last one in line. I just knew I would fly off the end of the line and skate right into a snowbank or the baseball dugout or just plain kill myself. I feared speed.
I liked to go the rink on Thursday nights because that was the only night the stores stayed open late back then. We would stop at the Sander's candy store and bakery for a hot fudge sundae on our walk home. On Thursday nights I was allowed to come home a little late because my mother understood the lure of the Sander's store.
Sander's is legendary in Detroit. They make the most delicious hot fudge topping, and I loved their fudge cup candies, especially the penuche. It remains my favorite fudge today.
I don't know if Allen Park still has a skating rink. If they do, I doubt they keep a bonfire going these days. Too dangerous. Even more dangerous would be to let a 12-year-old girl walk across town by herself in the dark. Those were innocent times, though, and what seemed normal then seems out of the question now.
Even the Sander's store no longer exists. Their retail stores closed long ago, but their candy and fudge sauce can still be ordered from the company. I found their Web site the other day. I can't get their German Chocolate Cake anymore (my favorite birthday cake), but maybe I'll order a jar of hot fudge sauce. I'll bet it tastes just as good as I remember.
Sanders didn't sell roast chicken, but if they did, it would be as good as this recipe. We grill it on one of those contraptions that lets you cook a chicken standing up (like beer-can chicken), and I put & cup of white wine in the infuser. This recipe works beautifully for roasted chicken in the oven, though. Moist, full of flavor and so easy.
Lemon Roast Chicken
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
3-5 pound chicken
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
1/2 yellow onion, quartered
Several sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme and any other herbs you like (I like to use an herb blend called poultry medley, and use a little of everything in the package)
Kosher salt and black pepper
About 2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt (in addition to above)
Remove the chicken's giblets and neck. Rinse the bird well inside and out. Remove any excess fat, especially around the neck, pick out any feathers still left and pat the outside dry.
Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the two lemon halves, the garlic and the onion pieces down inside the chicken cavity. Then stuff in several sprigs of your favorite herbs.
Generously rub olive oil all over the outside of the bird. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine, and tuck the wings under the body of the chicken. Then sprinkle the outside of the chicken really well with more salt and lemon pepper. Place chicken in a roasting pan and roast for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, until the juices run clear when you cut between leg and thigh, and when you can move the leg freely, like you're shaking hands with it.
Remove the chicken to a serving platter, cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 15-20 minutes. Discard the vegetables and herbs inside. Then carve chicken and serve.
Adapted from a recipe in "The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook"
Cook's notes - It's important to use Kosher salt for this. Also, it's important to let meat rest after removing from the oven before you cut into it. This lets the juices draw back into the meat instead of spilling out onto the plate when you cut into it. The meat will be more moist and flavorful. You can also grill this chicken. If you use one of the stand-up chicken grillers and it has an infuser in the bottom of it, add 1/2 cup dry white wine to the infuser.