When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Chicken
Updated: Aug 1
By the end of the second week of Granny day and night care, I was pooped. It was Friday afternoon around 4 p.m..
We had just survived our second Rory meltdown because ice-cream cones were in the pantry, but the ice-cream was gone.
"But I want ice-cream," Rory declared in the tone that brokered no debate. Her princess heels were dug into the ground and she glared at Remy and me with a look that would have sent the Boss Baby himself cowering for cover.
I didn't create her stubbornness, but I had unwittingly showed her that no ice cream in the freezer simply meant make some yourself.
Last week Remy filled their cones with crushed up fudgecicles. Prior to that I had pulled out the ice cream maker and churned an acceptable strawberry flavor with coconut and almond milk as a base.
Today, however, we had no coconut milk. To cook an ice cream base with egg yolks and cream would have been possible, but there was no time to cool it down before churning.
"Why don't we use pudding mix?" Remy suggested. "The chocolate one. Rory got her strawberry flavor last time. It's my turn now."
Genius, I thought. I doubted the mixture would freeze to scoopable consistency after churning, but that was okay. The kids wanted to eat ice cream now.
I substituted one cup of milk for a cup of heavy cream. Rory mixed the ingredients and we filled the Cuisinart.
The result was a sweet, creamy, custard-like frozen dessert. It scooped easily into the cones, though it was too soft to give us the trademark ice cream mound.
Remy was happy. Rory was happy. A tantrum was averted. We went onto the front lawn to take the mess outside.
Of course, I should have realized that I was sunk the minute the girls spied the sprinkler in the grass. A hot sunny day, cold ice cream and a run under the sprinkler. What could be better? Dinner was definitely going to be late.
In for a penny, in for a pound. A dip in the pool after being drenched in the sprinkler was the logical progression.
By now I was really pressed for time. Laura and Kenton were coming over for a family dinner before taking the girls home. There were two chickens in the fridge needing to be roasted, and side dishes to make.
Because the girls obviously hadn't had enough water, we migrated to the shower after the pool. Remy finished first, and left the room. I let Rory play "potions" for a few moments, watching as she gleefully mixed and matched hotel bottles of body wash and shampoo.
Imagine my surprise when I finally made it to the kitchen to prep dinner. Remy was all over it.
"I got everything ready to cook the chickens except the chickens," she said, smiling with a look of accomplishment.
Indeed. Everything necessary to make lemon roasted chicken was lined up and ready to go.
Remy had not only peeled half a head of garlic, but she had chopped the cloves and put them into ramekins, ready to be pressed.
We had been making lemon chicken together for years. In fact, we have a video of her making one during her one and only episode of Remy's Kitchen, when she was four years old.
At four, Remy had difficulty using the garlic press. At six, she was a little better at squeezing the garlic through, but still found it hard.
That she not only peeled all of this garlic, but had thought to cut it into pieces as well, amazed me.
The two lemons necessary for the recipe were lined up on the counter, as well as salt in a ramekin. This is a simple recipe, but so good. Everyone in our family loves it.
The only error she made was in the type of salt she poured. She had used table salt, but kosher salt was what we needed.
"What are we going to do with the salt we don't need," I asked her? "I don't want it to go to waste."
"Why don't we use the funnel to put it back into the container?" She said.
I'm embarrassed to say the thought hadn't even crossed my mind. I was planning to put it into a little bowl, cover with plastic, and save for later use.
That's what's wonderful about teaching kids to cook. There are so many things that can and do go wrong, it is a perfect arena for problem solving.
In an earlier post, I wrote about Remy being ready to compete on Chopped soon. She has actually only seen Chopped once, and that was just a week ago.
Her ability to think on her feet and be fluid in the kitchen comes from having spent so much time with me there.
Because I am far from a perfect cook. She has witnessed the necessity to change and redirect midstream, and has developed the ability to think outside of the box.
She is six, turning seven in July.
A couple of weeks after kindergarten began, I hosted a playdate for Remy and her friend from preschool. Because they were attending different elementary schools, they missed each other. They were five at the time.
At lunchtime her friend started crying hysterically. She wanted a Lunchables, and we didn't have any.
Lunchables, if you've never had the pleasure, are a processed package of bite sized lunchmeats and cheese, a few crackers, a juice box and either a cookie or small candy.
Kids love them. Moms, not so much.
As her friend bawled, Remy patted her a few times and said, "Don't cry. I'll make you a Lunchables." She went to the fridge and pulled out the meat and cheese, then to the pantry for crackers and cookies.
That was the first time I realized how much what went on in the kitchen had rubbed off on Remy. I had put together healthier versions of Lunchables for her, many times before.
That she not only watched me, but used the knowledge to problem solve for her friend, amazed me.
By now I shouldn't be amazed and surprised when Remy pulls off something like the mis en place for lemon chicken, or suggests pudding as an ice cream base.
She is not only becoming an accomplished cook, but is gaining confidence in her abilities.
These lessons, like the time we are able to spend together, are priceless.
Besides being super easy to make, this lemon chicken recipe is delicious. With just a few ingredients and very little fuss, you end up with a crispy, juicy roast chicken and a pan full of lemony drippings.
Whenever possible, I make two of these chickens at a time. The leftovers are fantastic for chicken salad, lemony pasta with chicken, and so much more.
It's nice to have two carcasses so that you can also make a flavorful bone broth or chicken soup. Add a few carrots, a chopped onion, chopped celery, salt, pepper and a little ginger or dill, and you're good to go.
Cover with water and bring to a boil. Skim off the icky stuff that floats to the top, turn the heat to low, and simmer for an hour or two.
Let the stock cool and strain into a bowl. Refrigerate or freeze until you're ready to make soup.
Feel free to fish out the cooked veggies after you've strained the stock, and add them back in with some leftover chopped chicken. It is an easy and frugal soup.
Noodles or matzo balls are great additions, but they should be cooked in a separate pot of boiling water so that all of the stock isn't sucked into them.
Another great thing about roasting two chickens at once is the fact that you end up with two chicken livers to use.
If you had told me as a young girl that chopped chicken liver would become a favorite dish of mine, I would have thought you crazy.
Chopped liver, like smoked salmon, were acquired tastes for me. Marrying Marty exposed me to the best Jewish cuisine.
His mother, Dorothy, was gracious enough to teach me many things. One of which was how to make the chopped liver I loved to eat every Passover.
If you roast the chickens, make chopped liver and soup, you have utilized almost every part of the chicken. Eliminating waste is high on my list of priorities in the kitchen. I'm not always successful, but this application makes me feel like a step in the right direction.
Before quarantine, I had the pleasure to sit next to a gentleman on a flight from New Orleans to Miami. Two New Orleanians seated together and naturally, we started talking about food.
When I asked him what his best dish was, he replied, "chicken gizzards."
Unfortunately, this was right before landing and I didn't get his recipe. If any of you have an outstanding gizzard recipe, please pass it along. Then my chicken trio of recipes can turn into a quartet, and I will be using every part of the bird.
Until then, here's the recipe for Remy's favorite lemon chicken.
Remy's Lemon Chicken
2 whole chickens
8 cloves garlic, put through the garlic press
1 heaping tablespoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Remove livers and gizzards from the center cavity of the chickens, reserving for another use, if desired.
Place chickens in a roasting pan, side by side.
Combine the garlic and salt, rubbing together until you form a paste. Gently make a pocket under the skin of the chicken, using your fingers. Be careful not to tear the skin.
Carefully stuff the garlic mixture under the skin, then rub what's left on your hands all over the top of the chicken.
Wash your hands. If you're like Remy, you will note that this mixture has exfoliated your skin, leaving it soft and smooth.
Pierce each lemon about four or five times with the tines of a fork. Place one lemon in the cavity of each chicken.
Put the pan in the oven and roast for an hour or more, until the leg pulls away from the side of the chicken and the juices run clear.
Cooking time will depend on the weight of the chickens and the calibration of your oven.
Let rest for at least ten minutes before carving.
Serve with pan juices poured over the chicken.
Makes 16 Servings
I came up with this variation when I had some juice oranges that were about to become too hard to eat.
Use an orange in place of the lemon. Amp it up by brushing this maple bourbon glaze on the chicken about 15 minutes before you take it out of the oven.
Maple Bourbon Orange Glaze
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons bourbon
Combine ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil on medium high heat, then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer until the glaze has thickened. About 5 to 10 minutes.
Use to glaze chicken, sweet potatoes, carrots.....