Basic, but good, Sunday dinner
March 14, 2016
Sometimes, you just need to get back to the basics.
As in, a Sunday dinner of roast chicken, baked beans, green peas and corn casserole. Made each of ’em a gazillion times. Always good.
This was one of my organic, farm-raised chickens (with apologies to my friend Don, who worked for the Poultry Federation and assures me factory-farmed chickens are just as healthy and just as good. Don, they may be just as healthy. They ain’t just as good.). The last several such chickens I’ve cooked, I’ve either cut them up or just spatchcocked them so they’d cook quicker.
But I was tired. We’d come in from Nashvegas, it had been a busy weekend, and I’d forgotten until I was about to go to bed that I’d laid a chicken out to thaw with the intention of cutting it up and putting it in a marinade overnight. Not happening at that point. I stuck it in the fridge still in its little freezer packaging.
Next morning, there was no point in marinating the chicken, and besides, I’d sprung forward and was not firing on all cylinders anyway, so I just rinsed him well, oiled him down salted and peppered him inside and out, and stuck a half-stick of butter in his cavity. When I got ready to plop him onto the rack in the baking pan, I remembered how good the Thanksgiving turkey I’d cooked (from the same farm, incidentally) was when I cooked it breast side down.
So I flipped this bird over and did the same. Put him in to cook and went about assembling the rest of lunch. Slid the baked beans in beside him to, well, bake. Got the corn defrosted for the casserole. Read the paper, and drank another cup of coffee. Took my shower and got ready.
By the time I’d decided I WASN’T going to church, as it was already 11 a.m. and I had to throw AGC2 BACK into the bathtub after he had the worst diaper blowout ever witnessed in modern history, and checked the temp on the chicken, I was afraid it had overcooked. Temp in the thigh was 210. I said several silent versions of dammit, took the bird out, covered him with foil and left him to sit.
Went and changed clothes, and the corn had finally defrosted and the beans were done. Pulled them out and covered with foil as well. Made the corn casserole — two pints frozen corn, an 8-ounce carton of sour cream, two eggs, a box of Jiffy cornbread mix (the kind with sugar in it), and a quarter-cup of melted butter. Folks, there is nothing easier, and nothing better, than this casserole. You can make it with a can of cream-style and a drained can of whole-kernel corn, but it’s better with the Silver Queen corn I froze last summer. You just stir it all up together, plop it in a casserole dish, and bake it at 400 until it’s nicely browned. I pulled it out and covered it with foil as well; turned the oven off, let it cool just a bit, and then put everything back in to await Child C and SIL 2’s arrival.
The baked beans are Bush’s Best, with the icky sauce drained off and replaced by a combo of ketchup, Dijon mustard, molasses, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, chili sauce, and seasoned salt, garlic powder and onion powder. I crumbled up a couple of strips of bacon I had hanging out in a plastic bag and needed to use, and lined up four strips of bacon on top so their grease would percolate down through the beans. I’ve made baked beans like this for years, and if I do say so myownself, they’re hard to beat.
As was the chicken. Even with the cooking done-er than it needed to be, the breast meat was still good and juicy. I can only attribute it to the upside down cooking. I’ll never cook a right-side-up whole bird of any flavor again.
And then we sat here and got the notion for something sweet, and I baked a cherry cake (recipe here). I use less sugar than she does — 3/4 cup in the cake, and 1/2 cup in the sauce. And this time, I used almond milk instead of regular milk, because it’s what I had, having not yet been to the grocery.
Next time you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em get ready to roast a chicken, flip it upside down and make it the centerpiece of a Sunday dinner. You’ll be glad you did.