Helga Jönsson's Roast ChickenHelga Jönsson's Roast Chicken
january 25, 2015

I love a roasted  chicken. My entire family will eat it without complaint, there are always leftovers and a crockpot of stock can be made from the bones. Lately I've been investigating how other people roast their chicken, and in this case Marcus Samuelson's adaptation of his Grandmother's traditional recipe was the perfect thing, to celebrate my own children's Grandmother.

Nana's 70th birthday festivities opened Friday afternoon with my husband's parents flying in from Oregon, then dinner out at our favorite neighborhood restaurant and a thwarted shopping attempt to the local antique store, which was closed. Saturday dawned with an early soccer game, followed closely by a cobbled together lunch, epic bike ride, wood working class, an extended search for parking (why we didn't take MUNI I just don't know), ice cream in the Mission and a trip to Dolores playground.

20150126-TrainWhen we tried the antique store again that afternoon it was open. Nana chose her gift there: a one-of-a-kind 1940's silver and onyx bracelet from Mexico. Chunky and decorated with what appear to be drifts of tiny silver bubbles, or maybe miniature polished snowballs, it suits her well. I wish I'd taken a photo. Then we went out for dinner again, at our favorite new-style Mexican restaurant around the corner.

Sunday morning we started cooking at home and the feasting continued. Brunch was Bacon Biscuits with Jalapeño Scrambled Eggs, plus a satsuma orange each, for fiber. Then Nana played dolls with her granddaughter. Papa took a lesson in Minecraft from his grandson. I attempted to finish reorganizing the kitchen (an on-going project since New Years Day) and my husband washed the dishes. We went for a hike in our local cloud forest. Afterward, the girls played kickball at the school down the street and the guys fixed the new train that wouldn't run, which had been purchased from the same antique store last week, with saved up allowance money.

Once everyone was suitably tired out, the train was running and I'd been to the grocery store, cooking began again. I brined the chicken in salty orange juice, cleaned the carrots and made garlic-herb vinaigrette. The stove cooked rice, the stove boiled water. I blanched some romanesco and assembled Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole with it. Then I made Orange-Fennel Salad.

Nana's Chocolate Celebration CakeThe kids mixed the cake, my husband took over the chicken. I attempted to finish reorganizing the kitchen, but it was no use. We had to abandon the mess and eat in the dining room. After moving the train off the table. Which really made more sense anyway, because there was more room for the food in there. And for all of the people, who gathered around, exhausted, to eat. 

The chicken was tender and moist, with a hint of citrus flavor and, as in almost all Marcus Samuelson
recipes, a spicy edge complemented by multinational flavors. In this case mostly Indian (garam masala, turmeric) a little bit Chinese (soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, orange juice) a touch Mediterranean (rosemary, parsley, carrots) and a just a smidge Mexican (cilantro). Or something like that. Delicious, as usual, of course.  The casserole was cheesy, the salad refreshing and the cake sweet - a suitable ending to a very busy weekend.

The recipe for Helga Jönsson's Roast Chicken is on p. 136 of Marcus Off Duty: The Recipes I Cook at Home; Orange-Fennel Salad is on p. 273 of the same book. The recipe for Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole is on p. 230 of 100 Days of Real Food and Chocolate Celebration Cake is on on p. 81 of Cindy Mushet's Baking Kids Love.

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