You may have forgotten how tasty and comforting roast chicken can be, Here’s how to make it. File photo

This past year, everyone seems to crave comfort food.

A politically overcharged year laced with COVID-19 means we all need something to make us feel better, and that means chicken. The fact is, chicken is king of the dinner table.

And although there are hundreds of ways to cook chicken, the tried and true recipes reign supreme, proving that simple is sometimes best and comfort food is even better.

While chicken can be prepared in many ways, there are a few things to look for when buying one.

  • Organic — Grown without antibiotics; they cannot be genetically modified, irradiated or cloned. They must have access to the outdoors.
  • Raised without antibiotics — The chicken has not received any antibiotics during the course of its lifetime.
  • Free-range — This may not be what you imagine. The USDA allows this label to be placed on any poultry product that has had open-air access for a minimum of five minutes per day.
  • Hormone-free — The USDA prohibits the use of hormones in raising chickens. This is simply marketing what is true for everyone.

Roasted chicken

  • 1 whole roasting chicken, about 3 to 4 pounds
  • 1 lemon, cut in wedges
  • 1 bunch tarragon
  • 3 to 4 green onions or chives
  • 4 Tbsps. butter
  • Salt and pepper

Empty cavity of chicken and tuck the wings underneath. Rinse completely and pat dry. Stuff the cavity with lemon, tarragon (keep a bit in reserve) and onions. Rub the entire outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Place the chicken on a rack inside a heavy roaster. Place in a preheated 450 F oven and roast for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 325, cover and continue roasting for 45 to 60 minutes or until a thermometer reads 160 F. Serve on a platter with roasted vegetables.

Chicken potpie

This is one of my favorite things to cook up using leftover chicken or turkey. My grandma taught me how to make pie dough and revealed the secret to rolling it out: Don’t worry about being perfect; repair any cracks and carry on.

I always thought it strange that Grandma used the canned soup because she made most things from scratch. But she would say it’s better to use some convenience products and get it done than not do it at all. More good advice. Get it done, then make it better if you have extra time. That said, buy a prepared crust and if you want more substance than crust, put the pot pie filling in a 9- or 10-inch cast iron fry pan and cover with a top crust. This makes a nice rustic presentation.

Pie crust:

  • Makes 1 double crust for a 9-inch pie
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 5 to 7 Tbsps. cold water

Pot pie filling:

  • 2 cups cooked chicken or turkey, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup (23 to 33 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 Tbsp. dried, chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

 To make crust: Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour. Add salt and water. Mix until dough is formed. Divide dough in half and roll out. Place bottom crust in the pie tin. Add the cooked chicken and mixed vegetables.

In a separate bowl, mix the unreconstituted soup together with the 1/2 cup of milk. Mix in parsley and garlic powder. Pour this mixture over the chicken and vegetables. Cover with the top pie crust and seal the edges. Cut three or four air vents in the top crust. Place the pie on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 F oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until the crust is browned. Remove from oven, let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

By Lynn Greene

Wisconsin author Lynn Greene has written "Lynn's Place" for numerous publications over the years in Wisconsin. She now shares her insights and recipes here.