Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

You can lead a boy to a stove…

Posted: September 18, 2009 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: Johanna, Roast chicken | 8 Comments »

…and sometimes you can even make him cook!!!

Tuesday was what we’ll call a royally shite day. Something at my job blew up, and it has been ugly, and has the potential to get uglier. Of course, if my coworkers would think for a second about the repercussions of their actions, maybe we wouldn’t all be IN THIS MESS.

Yet I digress.
Tuesday was shite, as I’ve mentioned. So shite, that at my lunch hour I IM’d Jesse, begging him to ask to be let off work an hour early, so he could be home for our grocery delivery (sometime between 6 and 8pm) since I knew it was going to be a late one for me at the office.  He complied, because he loves me and loves being able to eat dinner.
Dinner that night was scheduled to be roast chicken. I love roast chicken. I could eat it 3 times a week. In fact, I think that when I finally have the money to start buying groceries OTHER than that which we need for the immediate meals we’re planning, I’ll start buying a chicken every week and roasting it, just so we always have basis for stock, always have something to pick and turn into salad, or the filling for a pot pie, or just to gnaw on. Yum.

Anyways, Roast Chicken. It’s one of those basic, comforting meals that some allege you can use to judge the measure of a cook. It is one of those things that provides the distinction between “simple” and “easy” (although in my mind, it’s both). It’s a heck of an undertaking, since it takes the better part of an hour, and since I was leaving work at or after 9pm, it was not a reasonable meal for me to prepare when I arrived home.
Which is where Jesse comes in.


I tasked Jesse with preparing dinner during my commute home. Roast chicken was by far the easiest thing I could have assigned him, since it required no dicing, no mincing, no sauteeing and no real complications. I gave him solid instructions, and you can read his version of the prep at your leisure.  Basically, I asked him to salt the bird, season the outside with olive oil, poultry seasoning, and pepper, and put half a lemon and a halved onion in the cavity, squeezing the juice from the other half of the lemon over the bird.
He roasted it using Alice Waters’ preferred method of 20 minute rotations — 20 minutes breast side up, 20 minutes breast side down, final cooking breast side up, 400 degrees throughout. (I love this method, although I prefer Jamie Oliver’s method of  roasting in a preheated pan for 5-10 minutes breast side down, then the rest breast side up). When I arrived home, the house smelled wonderful, and roast chicken and mashed potatoes was EXACTLY what I needed after a 12-solid-hour work day.

If you’d like to try roast chicken a la Jesse, follow these steps:

1. Take your 3-4 pound chicken out of hte fridge, and let it sit at room temp for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle thoroughly inside and out with salt.
2. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
3. Combine 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1 teaspoon each of poultry seasoning, garlic powder, and black pepper. Smear this all over the outside of the chicken. If you have extra, smear it around the inside. Wiggle your finger or the handle of a spoon between the skin and the breast meat, and dribble some oil into that crevice.
4. Cut 1 onion and 1 lemon in half. Smash 2 garlic cloves. Put everything except 1/2 of the lemon into the cavity.
5. Put the chicken in a roasting dish and squeeze the juice from the extra lemon half over the chicken.
6. Roast for 20 minutes breast up. Flip the chicken and roast for 20 minutes breasts down. Flip again and roast until 165 degrees internal temperature is reached (or 20-25 more minutes) with the breast up.

If you want to, I highly recommend turning the leftover meat into chicken salad the next day, by cutting up a rib of celery and a quarter of an onion into tiny pieces, and combining that, the picked and chopped chicken, a tablespoon of dijon mustard, and 1/4 cup of Miracle Whip. But whatever you do, be careful using your knife along the breastbone, or you might end up with a gash on your finger. Like this one:
OuchieDon’t say I didn’t warn you.
Fingers sure do bleed a lot.

8 Comments on “You can lead a boy to a stove…”

  1. 1 Adi said at 10:00 am on September 18, 2009:

    Oh Josie. You are my queen.
    Pot pie = <3
    I want to hear your recipe for it!

  2. 2 Name (required) said at 10:30 am on September 18, 2009:

    So proud of Jesse!!! I too love roast chicken, and there is nothing more comforting to come home too :)

  3. 3 Mom J said at 6:29 pm on September 18, 2009:

    That’s my boy, Jesse! I am very proud of you and very glad that Jo has you to take care of her, and she, you. Roast chicken is the best and your’s sounds amazing. Hey… maybe you’ll want to help with the Thanksgiving preps this year? Do you know the words to “Alice’s Restaurant”?

  4. 4 leah said at 11:43 pm on September 18, 2009:

    i vote no more open wound pics on this blog :) but kudos to jesse for sure!

  5. 5 adele said at 9:09 am on September 19, 2009:

    I always find it interesting to see the roast chicken recipes people use. This is the first I’ve heard of the 20-minute rotation trick – I use Thomas Keller’s recipe, which involves trussing the bird and sticking it in a very, very hot oven.

    Sorry to hear about the situation at work. Sounds like Jesse has the situation at home all covered, though. :)

  6. 6 Mom J said at 11:30 am on September 19, 2009:

    That looks like something you could do slicing tomatoes at work, Josie. Might even require a trip to the ER for stitches!!!!

  7. 7 Bakezilla said at 1:17 pm on September 19, 2009:

    I have never roasted a chicken in my life, so perhaps I will try Jesse’s instructions. They look like something I could figure out. I don’t do well with the meat, but I bet I could do this because it involves the oven.

  8. 8 Krystal said at 4:56 pm on September 22, 2009:

    That meal sounds great!!! Maybe I will try your recipe this week!!! I’m sorry your Tuesday sucked, better days are on the horizon!!!

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Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alyssa: The Triple Threat

Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Bakezilla: We Use Mixers Too

She likes to bake. Actually, baking is the only thing she does. It's a passion.

Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.