I guess I need to clarify my intent to create more “Family Meals” this year. At MOPS a few years ago, a speaker talked about the Family Meal, simply defined as sitting together in the evening to eat….basically anything…hot dogs, pizza, mac and cheese….and gave a packet of sample recipes for casseroles full of cream-of-something-soup, sour cream, random meat, random starch, topped with yellow cheese and a crisp item of your choosing (chips, crackers, breadcrumbs, french onions) … 375 for an hour in a 9 x 13 Pyrex pan ( or Anchor Hocking for the truly Dutch). The purpose of that kind of Family Meal is clearly social/emotional and not nutritional.
My biggest challenge to the Family Meal is obviously the allergy thing: finding the rare meal that is safe for all the kids (dairy, egg and nut-free for Brynn…all that plus wheat and barley-free for the boy), but is also something I actually want to eat too. The social aspect of sitting together to eat is not the problem, finding foods we can all eat, without cooking 3 meals to serve at once…that’s the problem. Unfortunately, all too often, our Family Meal ends out happening in stages: We sit with the kids and snack on cheese and olives while they eat chicken nuggets and tater tots (Tyson’s nuggets for the older kids, Ian’s for the boy), then the kids watch a movie while the adults eat the good stuff: braised short ribs, polenta and broccoli rabe. I know! It’s horrible! But I get tired of adapting recipes sometimes…and really want butter in my polenta, cream in my mashed potatoes and parmesan in my risotto.
But this year, I vow to do better…and pray that the 18 month old outgrows the wheat allergy soon…that’s really the only allergy right now that makes me cranky. So on to my favorite Family Meal!!
This recipe is used a lot around here because the kids love it, I love it, and it works for baby and the older kids. Anytime I don’t have to cook a 1.) baby meal 2.) kid meal and 3.) adult meal…this is good. This comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, now sadly out-of-print: Ready When You Are by Martha Rose Shulman. The ingredients are so simple (only 4!), the results… amazing.
0Roast Lemon Chicken with Honey Glaze and Sweet Potatoes
One 3 1/2-4 1/2 pound chicken, giblets removed
1 cup fresh lemon juice ( I sometimes use the frozen Minute Maid juice, never ReaLemon, it tastes like chemicals)
4-6 small, thin sweet potatoes, scrubbed and pierced a few times with a knife and rubbed with olive oil (too big and they are still crunchy when the chicken is done)
1/4 cup honey
Salt and Pepper
1.) The day or morning before you plan to make this, place the chicken and the lemon juice in a gallon ziplock bag, put the whole thing in a 9 x 9 pan and let it marinate in the fridge for 8-24 hours, turning occationally.
2.) Preheat oven to 450. Drain chicken, pat dry and season with salt and pepper. Place in a large roasting pan, breast side down, with the sweet potatoes. If you look longingly at the All Clad roasting pan, but only have a 9 x 13 Pyrex and everything won’t fit (like me) put the sweet potatoes in their own pan.
3.) Roast for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 and roast for 45 minutes. Don’t open the oven or anything.
4.) Remove from oven, baste the chicken and potatoes all over with the honey. Flip the chicken to breast side up and baste again. Rotate the potatoes too and baste with some of the chicken drippings.
5.) Roast breast side up for 30-45 minutes, basting occationally, until the chicken is beautiful golden brown and an instant read thermometer in the thigh reads 180 F.
6.) Move the chicken to a platter to rest, tent with foil.
7.) Make a gravy from the drippings by pouring the drippings into a saucepan with 1 cup of water and 2-3T of cornstarch, bring to a boil until thick. Add salt or add extra thickening as needed.
8.) Hopefully, you used small enough potatoes that they are done at the same time, if you didn’t believe me, and used huge potatoes, they may still be crunchy…put back in the oven at 400 until done.