Many families have recipes that are handed down for generations, with each generation adding its own unique perspective. A tweak here, a soupcon there, a dash of this, a pinch of that, these recipes offer family members a rich patois of ingredients and family narrative.
The story of the reconciliation chicken is a new recipe future generations can enjoy. Although young in terms of history, its roots lie in a story as old as man – a story that wallows in the complexity of human relationships. And of course, in the magical, restorative, and curative properties of the chicken.
It’s the holiday season, a time of family, friends, and brotherly love. For some brothers, a bit more love than is necessary. And so, the story goes something like this: Brother meets girl. Brother becomes infatuated with girl. Brother, who is staying with mother, borrows mother’s car to take girl away for a weekend. Brother and girl disappear for an extended period of time. Possibly for much more than a week. Incommunicado. With car. Mother is housebound in the snow. Mother becomes annoyed and hungry. Living in a different city. She MUST HAVE CAR! Goodwill of daughter is invoked. Acrimonious and angry conversation ensues, in which mother vents at daughter because son is unavailable. Because he is incommunicado. With the car. The gist? Sister must speak harshly to brother, who should be cast into an outer darkness, where there is a wailing and a gnashing of teeth. Repeat. Repeat. First, daughter must come immediately to fix.
At the 11th hour, brother re-appears with car and a large roaster in tow. Complete with fixins. Chicken is roasted, and a reconciliation meal takes place between mother and prodigal in which all is forgiven. The clouds part, the sun shines, and all is right with the world.
The reconciliation chicken is born.
After all, how can anyone ever be unhappy with a chicken in their teeth?
Lg Roasting Chicken (organic is best for flavour and for soup)
4 lemons, halved
1/4 cup olive oil
I head garlic, separated into bulbs, skin on
1 clove garlic, diced or crushed
2 or 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Small potatoes, or quartered yukon gold potatoes
Pepper & Salt.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
- Remove giblets etc (if any) from the chicken, and rinse thoroughly in cold water. Pat dry.
- Take the juice from one lemon and squeeze into a bowl. Add the olive oil, and one crushed or diced garlic clove, pepper and salt. Mix and let sit.
- Take the remaining lemons, and squeeze juice into the cavity of the chicken. Insert the lemons (once squeezed) into the cavity. Add several whole garlic cloves. Place the chicken in the roasting pan and, with a thin knife, slit the skin of the chicken in various strategic spots. Insert the garlic slivers. Rub the chicken all over with the rosemary, then with the lemon and olive oil mixture. Flip the chicken (so the breasts are down in the pan). Add potatoes, remaining whole garlic cloves, and any remaining lemon and olive oil.
- Place the chicken in the oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes, basting once. Then, turn the oven down to 375 degrees and continue to roast until the chicken is done (about 20 minutes per pound, less 10 minutes of the total cooking time. Baste repeatedly. For the last 15 minutes or so, flip the chicken over to brown the skin on the breast.
- When the chicken is done, remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes, covered. You can remove the potatoes and garlic and plate them (covered with tin foil), or let them sit until its time to serve.
Reconciliation chicken is best suited to a Chardonnay, but wine is not critical to the chicken’s success. I am told that the preparation, while easy, can be tense, awkward and uncomfortable, but that by the time the chicken has roasted for about 30 minutes, the house begins to fill with the heady aroma of garlic, chicken, and forgiveness. Conversation eases, and laughter can be heard. By the time the chicken comes out of the oven for its last basting, the atmosphere is warm and thick, a soupy pastiche of love and joy. As everyone sits down to dinner, family is convivial. All is forgotten, grievances are forgiven, and the moment of reconciliation is at hand.