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Cruel summers and slow-roasted chicken

By JOHANNA GARCIA, The Philippine STAR Published May 27, 2021 4:00 am

Dear Bananarama: If you thought summer was cruel before, a second summer in lockdown is downright tyrannical.

Whereas before we could while away hot days at beaches, malls, movie theaters and even the office (hey, free AC is free AC!), these days we have to get a lot more creative so as not to melt like artisanal RGTK ice cream on a hot pavement (see what I did there?).

To make matters worse, the sweltering heat seems to have only exacerbated the lockdown-induced insanity that’s been running rampant over the past year. It’s like one of those werewolf horror movies, only every night is a full moon.

So, how to survive this Kim Jong Un/Putin/Castro/insert your favorite dictator here of a summer? 

I’ve been drinking lots of water, and putting my ACs on blast. This’ll probably result in a power bill that makes me sweat for a whole different reason, but you do what you got to do to keep yourself from howling at the moon… or mauling people for being greedy, rude, pretentious or obnoxious.

In addition to recent events, the heat has gotten me feeling a little battered and beat up lately, which has made me less productive than I’d like. Who are we kidding? My inner rebel has gone on strike. But I’ve realized that beating her up even more only serves to make her more recalcitrant, as she continues to hold up her picket sign and march instead of work.

So, instead of shoving my to-do list down my own throat, I’ve been adding lots of fun stuff to the agenda. This includes regular calls to family, especially those with extra-cute kids that make me giggle (that’s you, Alex and Ines!), baking, cooking and writing projects and classes that take me out of my comfort zone but also get me feeling creative and engaged.

Make it, bake it, forget about it. And then when it’s time to serve, congratulate yourself for making something so delicious and reward yourself by blasting the AC, Meralco bill be damned. Stay cool (in every sense of the word), and don’t forget to hydrate.

Thanks to a friend who supplied me with exotic indoor plants and hydroponic herbs that can withstand my black thumb, I’ve also begun to transform my urban jungle apartment into a beautiful and calming oasis. And when it’s time to nourish myself, I look to easy recipes that provide maximum taste for minimum effort.

This recipe for slow-roasted chicken takes a couple of hours to make, but except for the few minutes of prep time, it’s really just lounging around while the oven does all the work.

Besides, it’s not like we’re going anywhere. And, once it’s done, your patience will be rewarded with fall-off-the-bone-tender chicken, sweetly roasted garlic and a luscious herb and lemon sauce that you can soak up with crusty bread or rice.

I use chicken thighs for this recipe, because I think they’re best for long, slow cooks like this one. But you can use a cut-up whole chicken if you prefer. Also, feel free to substitute with whatever herbs you’ve got on hand.

Fresh herbs work best, but if you go with dried, use only a third of the amount. I like using the lemon zest because it makes the dish even more lemony and fragrant, but feel free to leave it out if you don’t love lemon as much as I do.

Make it, bake it, forget about it. And then when it’s time to serve, congratulate yourself for making something so delicious and reward yourself by blasting the AC, Meralco bill be damned. Stay cool (in every sense of the word), and don’t forget to hydrate.

Slow roasted chicken with lemon, garlic and rosemary

(Serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

1 pack of chicken thighs, or 1 whole chicken, cut into 8 parts

1 head of garlic, separated into unpeeled cloves

1/2 lemon, cut into thin rounds

Juice and zest of 1 1/2 lemons

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped, plus whole sprigs for garnish

3 tablespoons olive oil

2/3 cup white wine

Salt and pepper

Procedure:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F.
  2. Generously season your chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Put them in a Dutch oven or roasting pan, and add the lemon rounds, garlic cloves and chopped rosemary.
  3. Add the oil and toss everything together, then spread the mixture out, making sure all the chicken pieces are skin side up.
  4. Pour wine over the chicken and then cover with the lid or tin foil. Put in the oven to cook for 90 minutes.
  5. Remove the cover or foil and turn up the oven to 200C/400F. Cook the uncovered chicken for another 30 minutes or until the chicken is browned to your liking.
  6. Garnish with your remaining rosemary sprigs and serve.