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Semi-Homemade Comes to Albany

January 6, 2011

Andrew Cuomo has come to clean up Albany.  I learned that yesterday in his State of the State address that thanks to the miracle of modern technology, I was able to watch live over the Internet.  Who needs TV?

If I watched more TV I might have a better sense about his better half, Sandra Lee.  The only things I have seen from her lucrative brand of semi-homemade foodstuffs are the Chanukah cake and the Kwanzaa cake.  Surely she’s a lovely person, somewhere deep down inside.  But those cakes are nothing short of monstrosities.

I know there is an actual chef at the Governor’s mansion in Albany.  Hopefully he will be able to go about his job with the dignity and professionalism to which he has surely grown accustomed.  And hopefully it is his cooking that will represent our fair state at official dinners.

But since I know little about her, I have no intention to malign our Semi-First Lady.  Instead, she has inspired me to come forward with my very own post on a delicious, semi-homemade dinner.

Almost every Friday I buy a roast chicken at Hannaford.  For a while I was driving all the way out to The Fresh Market for my weekly chicken, but that traffic snarl got old really fast.  Instead I am modestly happy with the Nature’s Place rotisserie chicken.  Here is what Hannaford’s website has to say about their chicken:

Nature’s Place All-Natural Chicken is raised on a vegetarian diet on farms which provide plenty of fresh air and room to grow naturally. These farms use the latest technology along with old-fashioned hard work to bring you the plumpest, best-tasting chicken possible. The chicken feed is tested for pesticides and contaminants to ensure safe, wholesome grains. Healthy birds raised in healthy conditions do not need chemical medicines or antibiotics to help them grow – Nature’s Place chicken is completely free of antibiotics and growth hormones.

You can feel good about protecting the environment when you buy Nature’s Place chicken, too. The land where the poultry is farmed is tested for soil and water contaminants. Specialists monitor runoff and impact on wildlife. The result is a product you can trust that is safe for the environment and nutritious for you and your family.

It’s not perfect, but I think it satisfies enough of my criteria to count as “happy meat.”  That is, provided I’m happy to take their marketing at face value.  At the very least, it’s happier meat.

I’ve been hesitant to mention any of this in the past, because Hannaford has precious few of these rotisserie birds to go around.  A brief shortage was what sent me out to The Fresh Market in the first place.

Anyhow, the problem with store bought rotisserie chickens is the skin.  It steams inside the take-out containers, which results in a soggy mess.  But I’ve had great success crisping it up under the broiler.  I place the bird breast side down to effectively toast the bottom.  When the skin starts to get mottled with a few specks of char, I flip the bird, and do the same to the other side.

Sometimes, the only Nature’s Place roasted chicken remaining is in the refrigerated section.  On these instances, I turn to the brilliant instructions from SF Gate: “Preheat [the oven] to 325 degrees, blot the chicken dry and then give it a very light coating of olive oil to help crisp the skin. Heat, uncovered, for 25 minutes.”

Either way it is quicker than the usual process I would undertake for making a roast chicken.  Because my sickness is that if I’m going to make something, I’m going to try and make it the best way I know how.

So remember that easy semi-homemade dinner I mentioned?  It’s one of these chickens, a loaf of bread from a good bakery (with good butter, olive oil and salt on the side), a frozen vegetable (usually fancy French green beans) quickly sautéed in a cast iron skillet with olive oil, and a suitable bottle of wine (poured into large thin-rimmed glasses).

Semi-homemade doesn’t have to make a mockery of food. This is one seriously tasty meal.  Little Miss Fussy even lets me eat her chicken skin. But I really need to stop doing that, especially after a week of being fattened up on the farm.  

In the meantime, I’ll try to maintain my optimism about the new governor’s goals.  He laid out some great things in his speech today.  And if I can find a way for semi-homemade food to be delicious, maybe the legislature can find a way to muster the political will to recognize gay marriage.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. MamaAss permalink
    January 6, 2011 11:22 am

    I having trouble believing that Sandra Lee can have a show like that. Can I really I really go take acorns from the front yard and eat them?

    • January 6, 2011 12:43 pm

      @MamaAss If you’re talking about the Kwanzaa cake, I believe the ‘acorns’ she refers to are corn nuts.

      • MamaAss permalink
        January 6, 2011 12:54 pm

        Thanks, Elizabeth. You’ve saved me from bitter disappointment and a whole lot of work harvesting acorns. Now I’m wondering why corn nuts would be a Kwanzaa food.

  2. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    January 6, 2011 11:29 am

    Gotta say I find the rotisserie chickens in the supermarket too wet; I don’t like that “double-marinade.” In addition I’m not impressed with the vaunted “vegetarian” diet because chickens are not vegetarians. Insects are part of their diet, and chickens that are truly “free range” eat insects and taste better.

  3. January 6, 2011 1:25 pm

    I have to agree with Mr. Sunshine. I had chickens growing up and they never ceased to shock me with with what they would eat given the choice. I once watched a hen steal a mouse away from the neighbor’s cat, and bugs and other crawlies galore were a staple. To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever had better eggs…

  4. January 6, 2011 3:15 pm

    I met the Governor’s Mansion Executive Chef, Noah Sheetz, at a recent slow food event: I predict he will be able to hold his own.

  5. January 6, 2011 8:05 pm

    Yeah, but none of your ingredients came out of a can, with so many unpronounceable ingredients on the side that you’d be tongue-tied trying to read them. This is the “food” Sandra Lee cooks with. And that’s why she shouldn’t be on Food Network or making money off of “cook”books.

  6. January 9, 2011 4:37 am

    i stopped buying industrial meat (and milk, and eggs) at the supermarket about 2 years ago, and i quickly found that chicken poses the biggest challenge. a range of beef and pork products are pretty easy to come by at the farmer’s market etc., ready to be cooked up and used in most of your everyday recipes. chicken on the other hand, usually comes whole, as a roaster. therefore, any recipe using “x-amount” of chicken breast or thighs fast poses a problem. some farmers have started selling chicken pieces, but the prices of actual farm-raised, “happy” meat is honestly so expensive, i’m lucky just to be able to get the occasional ground beef, pork chops, and sausage products past my door once in a while. luckily i have a supply of venison at times during the winter months, which helps a bit. it’s a challenge, for sure. but of course, that’s the point. :-\

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