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Thinking back to the early days of my marriage, I remember feeling more than a tiny bit apprehensive about preparing the collective Jewish nation’s favorite Friday night fowl. In other words, I was totally chicken about cooking a chicken.

I’m not really sure when the term ‘chicken’ became synonymous with the term ‘coward’, since upon achieving success the first few times around, it rapidly became clear to me that making chicken is something that is really, really difficult to mess up.

The whole world may be a very narrow bridge, according to Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, but the main thing to recall, as his dear wife probably called him out on, is to have no fear at all when cooking a chicken. And rightly so.

Take my advice (and please don’t overthink this) – just take a look at what you have in the fridge/pantry/spice cabinet, spend about 45 seconds sprinkling and drizzling it over your bird, and pop it in the oven on 400ish for 2.5 – 3 hrs, turning once, even twice if you feel like exerting the extra energy. Use the baking time to think up a creative name for your ‘gourmet’ chicken dish. And voila! Now you have… ORANGE GINGER CHICKEN (Duck Sauce, Dried Ginger and Orange slices), or… STICKY SESAME CHICKEN (Honey, Ketchup and Soy Sauce)… or etc… You will feel like a master chef, and your guests will be delighted.

Again, I don’t mean to insult anyone who has actually been to culinary school (since I clearly haven’t), but with as much eloquence as I can muster on this matter, cooking chicken is easy peasy Japanesey. Here are 4 examples:

Italian Chicken

Ingredients:

  • Chicken (whole or pieces)
  • Tinned Tomato Sauce
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Canola or Vegetable Oil

Put the chicken on a tray. Pour on Tomato Sauce. Sprinkle with Italian Seasoning. Drizzle with Oil. Bake on 400 F for 2 – 3 hours, turning once and basting.

Apricot Chicken

Ingredients:

  • Chicken (whole or pieces)
  • Onion Soup Mix
  • Sliced Onion (White or Yellow)
  • Tinned Apricot Halves (keep the juice)
  • Canola or Vegetable Oil

Put the chicken on a tray. Scatter the Onion Slices around and underneath the Chicken. Pour the Apricot juice from the tin into a bowl and stir in the Onion Soup mix, then pour over the Chicken. Scatter the Apricots around and underneath the Chicken. Drizzle with Oil.  Bake on 400 F for 2  – 3 hours, turning once (or twice).

Lemon Basil Chicken over Sliced Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • Chicken (whole or pieces)
  • Potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • Lemon Juice (fresh or bottled)
  • Dried Basil
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic Granules
  • Black Pepper

Lay the Potato slices and Chicken on a tray (Chicken over Potatoes). Drizzle with a generous amount of Olive Oil and Lemon. Sprinkle with Garlic Granules, Pepper and Basil. Bake for 2 – 3 hours. Turn after 1 hour, basting and re-sprinkling with Basil, and again after 45 mins, just basting this time.

40 Garlic Chicken with Diced Potato and Sweet Potato

Ingredients:

  • Chicken (whole or pieces)
  • Diced Potato
  • Diced Sweet Potato
  • 4-8 Garlic Heads per tray, with the outer layer removed and a small section of the cloves closest to the root sliced off
  • Canola or Vegetable Oil
  • Paprika
  • Black Pepper

Peel and dice your potatoes your Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes and scatter them across a tray. Lay the Garlic Heads on the tray (as per the above picture) and, if desired, stuff 1 or 2 more inside the Chicken. Drizzle with Oil and sprinkle with Paprika and Pepper.  Bake on 400 F for 2 -3 hours, turning after 1 hour and basting and re-seasoning with Paprika and Pepper.  Turn again if desired.