Friday, March 11, 2016

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #5 ~ Roasts

Out of the many recipes in the Hospital Stewards Manual there was only ONE that mentioned roasting a fowl. It was vaguely described in a paragraph that also detailed grilling a bird and sort of disappointed me. It sounded very bland and went something like this: Rub the prepared fowl with butter, roast.

The grilling instructions called for seasoning with salt and pepper after cooking so I added that to my recipe, too. I just can't imagine a chicken would be very tasty with no seasoning at all. At least the chickens one can buy for a few dollars at the grocery store in these modern times.

I bought a small whole chicken and after rinsing it and patting it dry I stuck it in a large cast iron skillet and rubbed it all over with melted butter. It went into the oven for about an hour and a half.

I took it out when the skin was golden brown and crackling. It didn't look too bad.

I transferred the chicken to a platter to rest for about twenty minutes while I cooked up some rice (also from a recipe in The Stewards Manual) and cooked the pan drippings into a gravy with a little flour and milk.

We cut up some coarse bread and had the rice and chicken for dinner. The kids liked it. It was very bland, certainly, but it was filling and comforting. I imagine this would be a welcome dish for a hospital patient. The many many recipes for soups, puddings, teas and broths seem to indicate that a soft diet was the norm among most of those who were convalescing in hospitals. A nice cut of chicken would have seemed like a feast after a diet of soft things.

The cat got the carcass last night and he must have shared it with friends as it was gone this morning. That $5 chicken fed us all well. I may have to cook these more often!



  1. I roast a chicken (or two! we're 8 now!) nearly once a week. I usually alternate between rubbing it with an herb mix and a spice mix. Don't throw away the carcass! Put it in a pot and make a stock! It's so easy, and then you have a delicious stock to make a soup that will feed you all again, all from one little chicken. Roast chicken is probably my favorite go-to meal for that reason.

    1. I should have done that! What kind of herb mix do you use? What kind of spices? When I do a turkey or cornish hens (haven't done those in a while, though) I use a mix of coarse salt and pepper and garlic powder, paprika and cayenne pepper and stuff the cavity with onion and celery. I need to branch out and try different flavors. It's so easy to get stuck in a cooking rut when there are so many littles to attend to, not leaving much time for experimenting with cooking.

    2. A squeezed lemon-half and thyme inside the chicken cavity, with salt and pepper outside, is veyr quick, and it makes a lovely roast. Sadly, cooked chicken bones are just rubbery enough to be dangerous to cats - best to make stock!

  2. I hear you. I get stuck in ruts too sometimes. I love library cookbooks for helping me out of them.
    I always use melted butter.For spices, I usually do something like this blend:
    For herbs, sometimes I use Herbes de Provence-pre-blended, but I don't always have that, so I will mix up an approximation of my own with however many of the components I have on hand. Sometimes I just do s & p, garlic, and thyme. I have never bought this blend, but I often mix up the ingredients to it myself: I like keeping a Spice House catalog with my cookbooks. When I am uninspired but want a spice mix for something, I will often mix up my own version of something from the catalog that sounds good. I just put more of the first ingredient, and less of each down the line. I never put anything in the cavity. I do throw a chopped carrot, celery and onion in with the carcass when I make the stock.


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!