you shall have them for food

after the rainstorm

There’s no reason you should make this roasted chicken.

There are a thousand better roasted chicken recipes in the world, and most of them with better pictures. (Or, ahem, any pictures at all.)

But here’s this roasted chicken, because it’s my roasted chicken. I consulted a few recipes but proudly made it my own, a rare thing around here.

And while I was chopping and stuffing and tying (and striding ahead in other ways, too), I tried to let Genesis 1 burrow deeper into me.

I usually do my memorizing when I run. There’s a pleasant overlap between the disciplines of running and Scripture memorization. But I’ve wanted a new routine lately. I’ve been running less, doing yoga more, and that has left me in need of a good time to learn Scripture. So I’ve turned to housework and cooking.

As I diced carrots: “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.”

Plucked rosemary: “And to every beast of the earth, and every bird of the air, and everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.”

Plunged the chicken into the oven: “And God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.”

Memorizing Genesis 1 has caused me to wonder whether God made us all to be herbivores. I mean, later, there are slaughtered doves and lambs and all the rest, but right now, right at the beginning, God only offers green plants with seeds and trees with fruit.

As of this past summer, Dan and I have been trying our best to eat only meat that was raised ethically. We’ve known it for a long time, but Michael Pollan’s essay “Power Steer” convinced us in a way we couldn’t ignore. We have been working from the assumption that it’s not wrong to eat meat, and that our economic vote (the one we make when we spend our money) will have a stronger effect if we support farmers who raise their animals well than if we boycott them all.

But now there’s a niggling question in my mind: should I eat meat? The images of the beginning and the end make me wonder. Genesis 1 has all creatures eating plants, and Isaiah 11, with its vision of the eschaton, has the cow and the bear grazing together, and the lion eating straw like the ox. No carnivores acting like carnivores there!

So, while you ponder that with me, go buy yourself an organic, free-range chicken from your local farmer, and roast it. Quick! before you decide to become vegetarian!

rolls on the counter

Roasted Chicken

prompted by Meredith Reichmann

Be comfortable with approximations. Use what you have. Don’t fret.

1 whole chicken
1/2 c. salt
warm water

8 carrots
6 medium potatoes
1 c. broth

1 lemon
1/2 onion
4 cloves garlic
4 stalks rosemary

olive oil
salt and pepper

2 Tbsp. flour

A day or two in advance, thaw your chicken in the refrigerator. The night before or the morning of, dissolve a lot of salt in a pot of warm water. Cut off the chicken’s neck and pull out the giblets, freezing them all for stock later. Submerge the chicken in the water, and add more water to cover it. Put the pot into the fridge for 6 to 24 hours, until you are ready to cook.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Prepare the carrots and potatoes by dicing them and spreading them in the bottom of a casserole dish or a 9×13 pan.

Quarter the lemon and the half-onion, and cut the garlic cloves in half. Set them aside.

Pull your chicken out of the refrigerator, and pat it dry with a paper towel. If its legs are sprawling every which way, use a piece of string to keep them close to the body. Set the chicken atop the bed of carrots and potatoes, breast side up (drumsticks in the air). Rub olive oil all over the exposed skin, and squeeze a good bit of lemon juice on the top. Stuff the lemon quarters, onion pieces, garlic, and rosemary into the cavity of the chicken.

Pour the broth onto the carrots and potatoes, avoiding the chicken, and sprinkle salt and pepper over the whole thing.

Slide the dish into the oven, and set a timer for 60 minutes. When the time is up, stick a thermometer into the chicken’s thigh (parallel to the body, pointing back toward the drumstick) and check the chicken’s internal temperature. It should be at least 165ºF. Stick it back in the oven if it needs more time.

When it has finished, remove the dish from the oven, and set the chicken on a cutting board to rest for 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to put the carrots and potatoes into a serving dish, and pour the liquid into a pan. Over medium-high heat, whisk flour into the liquid and stir until the sauce thickens to gravy.

Search “how to carve a chicken” on YouTube and carve like a pro. Arrange the chicken pieces on a platter, pour the gravy into something with a spout, and serve with the carrots and potatoes and yesterday’s rolls. Easy peasy.

And don’t forget to save your bones! Freeze the chicken back, and all the bones as you eat them, with meaty bits attached, for stock later.

(This post is one in a November series for NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month. You can find the rest here!)

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