Rosemary-Garlic Roasted Chicken

When my father graduated from high school in 1941, he found work with the Reiss Steamship Co., as a deckhand on the A.M. Byers, a self-unloading freighter on the Great Lakes.

The Japanese had not yet bombed Pearl Harbor, but most people knew it was only a matter of time until the United States went to war.

So it was a time between for my father, who dreamed of other things, possibly a career in history or journalism.

The war intervened, of course, and he joined the Army and went off with the 4th Infantry’s combat engineers unit to land at Utah Beach and forge his way into France and Germany.

He got into the restaurant business after the war ended, but years later, as a young father, went off to “work on the lakes” again, this time as second cook on the Peter Reiss, another self-unloading coal freighter. That must have been a lonely time for my father. I missed him terribly, and recall the day I played my 45 of "The Poor People of Paris" over and over again because it had been a gift from him.

Working on the lakes meant being away from your family from late March until December. But the pay and the benefits were excellent. Winter homecomings were something we began looking forward to in fall, when the first of the boxes from fancy Detroit department stores began to arrive.

So when Mary aka Breadchick from The Sour Dough contacted me about reviewing “Ships of the Great Lakes Cookbook” for a Cookbook Spotlight Event, I agreed, seeing an easy fit with this blog.

The book’s publisher, Creative Characters Publishing Group, supplied the cookbook. I will be featuring several recipes from the book over the next few weeks as the 2007 shipping season gets underway.

Since my husband is a boat designer by profession, I saw a fit there, too.

The book is full of good food but many of the recipes are designed to feed a crowd; I generally cook for no more than four people at a time. This would be a good cookbook for anyone who cooks down-home food for large church or school groups or special events. It's perfect for a restaurant chef, too,someone looking to create unpretentious, but still stylish menus.

Today was the first Sunday of spring and we invited my mother for dinner. I prepared a Rosemary-Garlic Roasted Chicken that was tasty and melted in our mouths. I have never tasted such tender chicken. I served it with roast pepper-and-zucchini medley.

Rosemary-Garlic Roasted Chicken
  • 1 5-6 pound roasting chicken
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 8 medium red onions, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 2 whole garlic heads
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 450. Remove and discard giblets and chicken neck. Rinse chicken under cold water and pat dry. Loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers and gently pushing between the skin and the meat. Place chopped rosemary and crushed garlic under skin. Lift the wing tips up and over the back, tucking under the chicken.

Place chicken breast side up in broiler pan. Trim ends of onions and remove papery skins from garlic. Do not peel or separate cloves. Brush onions and garlic with oil and arrange around chicken. I tucked in some rosemary, too.

Bake at 450 for 30 minutes. Reduce oven to 350 degrees and bake for another hour and 15 minutes or until chicken reaches 180 degrees.

We loved it and will do it again soon. This particular recipe is from the M.V. Paul R. Tregurtha, a coal boat. John R. Duning is head cook.

But first, a few more recipes from the Great Lakes. What next? There's everything from Lobster Bisque to Rotini with Fresh Tomatoes, Basil and Parmesan.


Anonymous said…
That melted in my mouth too... Wonderful !

Your father led an interesting life Mimi. Having him away for all those months while he was "working on the lakes" must have been hard for a youngster like you. Hard for the whole family.
There's a chicken sitting in my fridge, waiting to be roasted this afternoon. I'll try this recipe -- I especially like the heads of garlic roasting along with it.
Unknown said…
Very sweet, Lydia - that garlic is like candy.

Homecomings were great, Fi - we would go out to the airport and wait for his plane.
Erika W. said…
Mimi that sounds heavenly!
Unknown said…
I've never tasted such tender chicken. It was, of course, a chicken with no additives, antibiotics, hormones, etc. - the next best thing to free range, I guess.
Anonymous said…
I have a chicken in the freezer so I'll try your recipe this weekend. What an interesting life you have led. I love the story about your father. He sounds so special.
Unknown said…
He was, Judy, but it took me years to realize that.

I hope you enjoy the chicken as much as we did!
Anonymous said…
I think you should write a book, Mimi. A combination memoirs and cookbook. I'm not sure what I like best about your posts - the family history or the recipes!
Christine said…
What wonderful stories you're sharing with us Mimi. As a fellow food-writer student once said, "You've got a book in you!"
Farmgirl Cyn said…
Mimi-Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs...I love it paired with garlic and roasted potatoes! I will definitely have to try this! I have taken homemade pesto, mixed with the juice of a lemon and a bit of olive oil and smushed that under the skin of a whole chicken, filling the cavity with the remains of the lemon and a few cloves of garlic. There's something about having the herbs right under the skin that just permeates the meat.
ps...I am reading "On Rue Tatin", by Susan Loomis and CANNOT put it down! You two have very similar writing styles!
Anonymous said…
Mimi, this chicken recipe looks great, but the story that goes with it is even better. You are constantly striking a chord with me. Some of it because I teach French literature, history and culture classes, so that's obvious, but in this particular because I'm from Michigan and have had family working on the lakes as well. You've inspired a curiosity in me to seek out my own family stories about these times in ways that I hadn't thought about in quite some time. Thanks.
Unknown said…
Thank you, my friends.

Andrea, I have been thinking the same thing the past few days.

Christine, I feel as though I am getting to know my father all over again. I wish he could have known me as an adult - I think we'd be good friends.

Cyn, that sounds wonderful - you have a way with poulet.

Thank you for the compliment - I liked SHL's style a lot. Very sincere.
Anonymous said…
What a delicious looking meal. I think roasted chicken sounds like just the ticket for dinner this weekend!
Unknown said…
Kristen, we've been doing it almost every weekend. I guess it's a nostalgia thing here.
Toni said…
Mimi - I agree with Andrea. You have a book in you. Actually, you have quite a bit of it here in your blog. What a wonderful story! (As well as a wonderful recipe!)
Unknown said…
Toni, I guess this is my book!
You still amaze everything all ties together. What wonderful (even with a little lonely in there) history! I missed this recipe but wow this looks delightful. And the garlic.
I agree, this is a book.
Unknown said…
Oh, Tanna, I wish I had more time for a book! yes, I have to write one. Maybe I will start one and self publish it.
Glenna said…
I love cookbooks like this, there's something haunting about the history and recreating those menus, I think.
Katie said…
How fun to review a cookbook - especially one with such history!
Where I grew up 'the men' worked on 'the dredge' in the summer - the boat that went down the Mississippi clearing the channel. But they were only gone for the six - 7 warm months. Our neighbor was one of the cooks.
Unknown said…
Glenna, it;s funny, even though my father was not involved in the book at all, I felt closer to his spirit as I cooked.

Oh, Katie, i love the Mississippi - have you ever stodd on thebluff in Dubuque and watched the river flow? Magic!
Mimi, when I saw the words "rosemary", "garlic" and "chicken" yesterday I almost ate the keyboard. lol
The connexion was bad so I only got to see the photo now - delicious!
Unknown said…
Patricia, you are too funny - I need to get over to your kitchen for a fix!
Unknown said…
The house did smell good. The next two nights, I made totally different meals - all good though.
Anonymous said…
What a delicous meal Mimi and such a good story teller.
Unknown said…
And I've made two more since Sunday - I must get a post together, Anne!
ChrisB said…
We sometimes use a very similar method for cooking roast chicken and it is so delicious.
Carole said…
It's lovely to have you back joining in the Food on friday fun, Mimi. Cheers

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