When I was a kid, my dad attended annual insurance meetings in Toronto. Once in a while, those meetings coincided with March Break, and my mom, my sister and I got to tag along.
Visiting Toronto was always exciting. I remember driving into the city, breathlessly seeing Lake Ontario to the south and the huge bank buildings to the north. Shopping in Toronto was fun, and we loved visiting the Science Centre and Royal Ontario Museum. We always stayed in the downtown Sheraton, from whose room window we could watch skaters on the outdoor rink at Nathan Phillips Square.
But by far the most memorable thing we ever did was see the musical Annie.
Annie had opened on Broadway in 1977. The story of a young orphan who was adopted by Daddy Warbucks during the Great Depression was enormously popular. The first touring production had just begun. And in March of 1978, when my parents were checking what was on that night in Toronto, they noticed that Annie had just opened at the O’Keefe Centre.
“We’ll never get tickets,” my mom said.
“They’re probably sold out for the run,” my dad said.
But they called anyhow, and thank goodness they did. Although Annie was indeed nearly sold out for its Toronto run, it was still in previews, and seats were available.
Thus it was, that very evening, the four of us headed down to watch this energetic show. The musical highlights were “It’s A Hard-Knock Life”, “Tomorrow”, and the wonderful “Easy Street”, but it was the enthusiasm of the young actors that turned it into a thoroughly charming evening.
You might think it’s tough to find a recipe inspired by a musical set in the Depression, but don’t underestimate me. The song “We’d Like to Thank You,” acknowledges Herbert Hoover’s promise to put a chicken in every pot. Substitute a roasting pan for a pot, and you have this delicious chicken recipe. With just a handful of ingredients, it takes longer to heat the oven than it does to prepare the meal. Easy Street never came any easier.
Perfect Roast Chicken
(adapted from Martha Stewart Living)
1 six-pound roasting chicken
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced crosswise 1/2” thick
3 large garlic cloves, peeled
4 – 6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove giblets if necessary, and rinse chicken inside and out. Dry thoroughly with paper towels.
In the centre of a roasting pan, place onion slices in two rows, touching. Pierce the entire surface of the lemon with a fork. Using the side of a large knife, gently press on garlic cloves to open slightly. Insert garlic cloves, thyme sprigs and lemon into cavity. Place chicken in pan, on onion slices.
Spread the softened butter over entire surface of chicken, and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place in the oven, and roast until skin is deep golden brown and crisp, and the juices run clear when pierced, about 1 1/2 hours.
Remove chicken from oven and let stand 10 to 15 minutes so the juices settle. Remove and discard onions, garlic, thyme and lemon. Carve and serve.