Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What is it about leftovers?

I've started preparing one of my mother's dishes once every couple of weeks, chicken and spaghetti (recipe follows). Each time we have it, my 11-year-old son declares that the spaghetti is the best he's ever eaten. The reason we love the spaghetti is that it cooks in the juices of the chicken, and is flavored with cinnamon and allspice.

But getting my wife or my son to eat the leftover spaghetti is nearly impossible. I'm the one who ends up eating it or it goes in the garbage, and I hate throwing away food. My wife and son enjoy the dish the night it is made, but just want to move on to something else. Me, when I was single, I used to cook for a few hours every Sunday night to turn out four dinners for the week, eat take-out on Friday nights and go to a restaurant on Saturday nights. The four meals alternated two entrees, chicken one night, then spaghetti the next, then chicken, then spaghetti, each meal accompanied by a salad and bread or potato.

Now, if we make a whole chicken, I'm very happy eating chicken sandwiches from the white meat one or two days later. But my wife and son hate white meat, which is why I will be making my mother's dish with leg quarters from now on. For this recipe, one of those black pots speckled with white, covered, works best. My pot is oval, about 14 inches long.

Grace Sasson's chicken and spaghetti

One whole chicken, about 3 to 4 pounds,
or four to five leg quarters, seasoned to taste
with salt, cinnamon and allspice.

One pound of spaghetti, regular, thick or thin

Two small cans of tomato sauce

Chicken broth (optional)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Spray the bottom of the pot with cooking spray, place the seasoned chicken inside, cover and cook, about one hour for the whole chicken or 45 minutes for leg quarters.

Meanwhile, boil pasta according to package directions, then drain. Don't overcook.

Remove pot from stove and remove chicken. Add spaghetti, tomato sauce, chicken broth if desired, and season with more cinnamon and allspice. Mix well.

Place chicken on top of the spaghetti, and put the pot in the stove, uncovered. Cook until a meat thermometer registers between 160 degrees and 170 degrees (for chicken without antibiotics). Exposed spaghetti should be browned and crisp.


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