One the things I love most about Tuck Everlasting is the strength of the Tuck family's bonds. Through an accident of Nature or Providence, they're consigned to live forever, but even though the two sons wander away from home, the family reunites every ten years. They reconnect by telling stories of their adventures, giving each other small gifts, and eating together. And when Winnie Foster finds her way into their cabin, she also ends up at their table...
Monika and Catherine are both vegetarians, so our shared meals are meatless. But Mom and I are not opposed to a little flesh once in a while, and since our neighbors started raising and butchering chickens, I've been waiting for the day when I can roast a whole chicken. Yes, that's the extent of my ambitions lately.
What do I have to work with? Well, there's a whole chicken, fresh garden herbs and vegetables (potatoes, carrots, onions, rosemary), local sweetcorn, and some leftover clementines. The clementines are looking a little sad, and I've been feeling guilty about not eating them for more than a week. But if they're just used to impart citrus flavor, say through roasting, and not necessarily eaten...well, that's a horse of a different color.
- 1 whole chicken, 3-4 pounds, rinsed and patted dry
- 1 large onion or 4-5 small onions
- 1 pound potatoes, large ones should be halved
- 2 large carrots (cut into spears) or 7-8 finger-sized carrots
- 4 rosemary stalks
- 2 clementines, sliced
- 1/3 cup water or chicken stock
- 2 TB olive oil for vegetables, 1 TB for chicken
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a roasting pan, drizzle potatoes and onions with olive oil; season with salt and pepper and add the 1/3 cup water. Slide two rosemary stalks and some salt and pepper between the chicken skin and breast. Slip a clementine slice under the skin between the breast and leg on both sides. Season the cavity with salt and pepper; stuff with remaining clementine slices and rosemary. Coat outside of chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the chicken on the onions and potatoes in the roasting pan and tuck the carrots alongside.
Roast about 1 1/2 hours, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees. If chicken or vegetables brown too quickly, tent with aluminum foil. Halfway through cooking, turn the vegetables--I tucked the carrots and onions beneath the potatoes at this point--and baste the chicken with the pan liquid. Allow chicken to rest for 10 minutes before slicing, serving, and savoring.
When we were younger, our family always ate together. As we entered the teenage years and relationships with our father became strained, family dinners became infrequent, painful, and marked by stony silence. I imagine every family goes through periods when interaction around the dinner table is a complete nightmare; if you're lucky, it doesn't last forever.
Although our father has been gone four years now and we've all wander off on our own paths, we do share meals a couple times a year. I like to think that sitting down at a table helps us strengthen our bonds. I hope it does the same for you.
Need music with your meal? I recommend the Tuck Everlasting soundtrack I compiled last week. Happy eating!