|Vertically roasted chicken on a grill with multi-colored carrots and green grapes|
One of the first things I learned to cook was a chicken. I was home from college on a summer break when I woke up one morning to discover a raw chicken sitting on a plate in the kitchen with the note: "cook me!" (My father has a wicked sense of humor). I examined the subject closely, then called my dad at work. "There is a raw chicken on the counter," I said. I got the 'earning my keep' speech in reply along with instructions of what to do with this creature. Apparently, was meant to be that night's dinner. Since I did not know exactly how long my cooking will take, I decided to start right after breakfast.
By this point in my life I have seen a cooking show or two on PBS (this was before the Food Network was invented and before Martha Stewart conquered Midwestern suburbia), and so I noticed that my dad's method was a bit short on flavor. I emptied out the pantry of every spice my parents had (was not that many, and all Italian greenery) and proceeded to stuff, truss, and rub the bird into submission. By the time I gently placed it on a bed of thinly cut potatoes lining the roasting pan, there was not a spice or fruit left in the house. I carefully measured half an inch on the side of the pan and poured a mix of water and orange juice. The chicken cooked for probably longer than necessary and I basted it every 5 minutes. It came out with a gorgeous deep brown tan, stuffed to the brim with apples and oranges. It was the best chicken my parents ate. Which meant I was stuck cooking chicken for the rest of my summer.
Over the years, I cooked so many birds that I can now prep one in under five minutes if necessary. And, it's the easiest thing in the world to make. I am also living with assumption that everyone knows how to make one, only to be proven wrong at least once a year. So here is the