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The Pesach Menu Hotline, Part 1

No sooner do we put our Purim groggers (noise makers) away, that we take out our Passover menus and brush off the haggadahs.  Passover will be here in less than a month, and my next few blog postings will be dedicated to getting ready and getting organized! (Breathe.  Breathe.)

Getting Organized:

Part of the pre-Passover stress can be reduced if you do your menu planning now.  Planning ahead will not only make shopping more manageable and organized, but if you make a large menu plan for all of your holiday meals, the cooking will become easier as well: you’ll be able to create an organized master cooking schedule.  Taking a few minutes to plan now will save you hours later, enabling you to effectively tackle how and when everything will be made.  Perhaps you’ll choose to double a main dish, freeze half and save it for the end of the holiday.  Maybe there is a vegetable dish that, upon further consideration, is best prepared closer to mealtime.

If you don’t already have one, create a Passover folder for menus, photocopied recipes, important shopping lists (not just for food), cleaning lists and even receipts.  Why reinvent the wheel each year?!  Loose scraps of paper are easily lost or misplaced and it would be a shame to lose all of that information.

Passover Menu-Planning: The Real Deal

Each year, another Passover cookbook comes out that we run to purchase without hesitation.  Our secret hope is that it will contain the answer to the real question we are asking: “how can I make the same chometzdik food I make all year kosher-for-Passover…and still taste good?”  The answer to this question is: you can’t.  Instead, let’s shift our mentality and rather ask, “Which are the best recipes to make which naturally do not require chometz* or that require only small substitutions?”  Let’s free ourselves from getting stuck in a rut.  The world is full of wonderful foods that do not require chometz.  If we choose recipes that are innately good and not just “not bad for Passover,” then we will all be happier with the food we are eating and how it comes out.   Roasted vegetables are a simple side dish, but delicious.  Marinated salads can be prepared in advance and are a great way of adding color and balance to what can be the heaviest meals of our year. Your favorite green leafy salad is welcome any time of year.  Start with main dishes and fill in as you go.

With your folder in hand, you’ll be on your way to freeing yourself from a stressful experience, and better able to focus on the enjoyment of the holiday.

The following recipe is a great example of an entrée that is innately good in all its simplicity, whether on Passover or the rest of the year.

*Chometz is leavened or fermented wheat, rye, oats, spelt and barley – forbidden to be eaten on Passover.

Lemon-Herbed Roast Chicken


There is something remarkably aromatic and juicy about roasting a whole bird.  This “Julia-style” treatment is my go-to method!

Serves 4.

  1. 1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary, plus 2 large whole sprigs
  2. 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme, plus 3 whole sprigs
  3. ½ tsp. garlic powder
  4. ½ tsp. kosher salt
  5. ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  6. 1/3 cup olive oil
  7. 1 lemon, zest reserved, and quartered
  8. 1 onion, quartered
  9. 1 shallot, minced
  10. 2/3 cup chicken stock
  11. 1/3 cup dry white wine

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Clean whole chicken inside and out, removing excess fat or pin feathers if necessary.  Rinse chicken and pat dry.  Combine chopped rosemary, chopped thyme, garlic powder, salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon zest in a small bowl and mix to blend.  Rub this mixture all over the chicken and inside of the cavity.  Stuff quartered lemon, onion, and herb sprigs into the cavity of the chicken.  Using a long piece of twine, tie the legs together tightly.

Place the chicken back-side up on a V-rack or grate in a frame-proof roasting pan.  Roast for 15 minutes, and carefully turn chicken breast-side up.  Roast for another 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 degrees and continue to roast for another 45 minutes-1 hour or until an inserted meat thermometer registers 170 degrees internally.  Remove chicken from the oven.

Tilt the chicken forward, allowing the inner juices to run into the roasting pan. Transfer chicken to a cutting board. Allow chicken to rest for 20 minutes before serving.  Meanwhile, place roasting pan over medium high heat.  Add shallots and sauté for about 5 minutes, scraping up browned bits from the bottom.  Add chicken stock and wine, and bring to a boil.  Simmer over medium heat, continually scraping up browned bits from the bottom and stirring until they dissolve and the sauce thickens. Skim off excess fat and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cut up chicken into eighths (e.g. breasts, thighs, drumsticks and wings).  Discard lemons, onions, and chicken back (or save for your next stock). Serve chicken with sauce on the side.

 

By Naomi Ross

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