Garlic Roasted Chicken & Butternut Squash with Pecans

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I’ve noticed a lot of us sitting in the polar vortex have been sticking with our old basic comfort foods to get us through the rest of this winter.  This past Wednesday was definitely a comfort food kind of day.

I tend to stay close to home when the weather’s going to be nasty, mainly because I drive a very impractical (but very fun) sports car.  Much to my dismay, I was caught about 10 miles from home coming out of Boston heading west into what was supposed to be rain with a dusting of snow.  All I needed was 14 minutes and I would have been back home – instead I ran straight into white out conditions with snow accumulating rapidly, slicking the highway and turning the back roads into skating rinks.  As I was trying to figure out which of the 4 approaches I could take to get to my house, I realized that they all included hairpin turns and were all uphill.  I think if I’d practiced a little earlier this winter I could have made the Olympic bobsled team which would have been a snap on a nicely groomed track.  With my skid control warning light flashing at me and my rear end sliding out (my car’s rear end) I just made it to our driveway and thankfully hit the garage door opener to slide the bobsled into the garage.  The only concern I had at that point was whether or not I’d be able to stop the slide into the garage before hitting the rider mower (just a little tap, shush).

A cup of tea to simmer down the shakes and it was time to get some comforting aromas in the house.  A roasted chicken has always been comfort food for me because it was usually what we had growing up for Sunday dinner.  There weren’t any foodies in the 50’s so menus didn’t vary much – chicken on Sunday, pasta on Wednesday, fish on Friday, and some kind of roast on Saturday.  Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday was up for grabs but usually the choices were  meatloaf, stuffed peppers, cabbage and spareribs, pork chops, casseroles from the latest Woman’s Day or Good Housekeeping magazine and always dessert.  Sometimes we’d have steak but that was always an incredibly long meal as everyone chewed…and chewed…and finally gave up to work on the potatoes and vegetables to give their jaws a rest.

A little story about our Sunday chicken dinners…my mother was a very good cook and especially known for her unbelievable pies.  She never minded cooking for a crowd and we often had family joining us for Sunday dinners – until my Uncle Arthur with his 7 boys got booted out of the house by Aunt Mary one Sunday.  If you’re younger than I am you might not remember that having a phone was still a new concept but the aunts and uncles who were invited to Sunday dinner would have called earlier in the week to let my mother know that a 5 pound chicken might not be enough and to plan accordingly.

I still remember sitting down one Sunday – 5:00 pm exactly – and just as the food had been passed around, Uncle Arthur was knocking at the door.  The 7 boys were already through the door and finding chairs to fit themselves at the table – they were hungry!  Of course my mother would never think not to invite someone to sit down to eat even if they were already stuffing their faces.  In any case, that dinner we all just had a little less than usual with no leftovers for lunches for the week.

Since Arthur was my father’s brother, Dad got an earful that night.  Not even close to the earful he got the next week, and the week after when Uncle Arthur and the boys continued to show up right at 5:00 every Sunday thereafter.  We never did see Aunt Mary who was probably still in bed recovering from the week.  I honestly thought that we were getting a special treat that Sunday when my mother had us all dress up and lined us up by the back door.  Just as Uncle Arthur’s car pulled into the driveway, we were marched out the door and just getting into our car as the boys began to pile out.  “Oh dear, so sorry but we weren’t expecting you…we were just heading out”.  As soon as the eating army was around the corner though we were marched back into the house and our chicken dinner was served.  I did wonder why we were leaving the house with the oven on and food ready to hit the table.

You’d think that would have been the end of it but nope, the following Sunday Uncle Arthur was back.  Yes, he was and we were caught unawares.  You did not mess with my mother though because the following Sunday we had our chicken dinner at 4:00 and were at the ice cream stand when Uncle Arthur pulled up wondering why no one was home.  A couple weeks of that and we were back to our 5:00 pm routine.

This isn’t  my mother’s chicken recipe, but it’s extremely juicy, tender, and flavorful.  I know it sounds like a lot of garlic in here but it isn’t overwhelming at all…although you can always have some mints on the side.

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Garlic Roasted Chicken with Rosemary

1     Whole chicken
6     Large cloves garlic
1     Whole head garlic
5     Tablespoons softened butter
4     Sprigs rosemary
1     Beer or 8 oz. chicken broth

– After rinsing chicken, insert full head of garlic and a couple sprigs of rosemary into cavity with a few glubs of beer
– Soften butter then mix in chopped rosemary (or use dried) and the 6 cloves of minced garlic
– Cut small openings under the skin of the chicken and push the butter/garlic/rosemary mixture into all of the areas you can read under the skin
– Pour more beer or broth on top of the chicken then cover and roast at 400° for about 1 1/2 hours, depending on size of chicken.  Remove foil for last 1/2 hour to brown skin.  You can continue to baste with beer.

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On the side, I had mashed potatoes with gravy and this butternut squash which was perfect with pecans.

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Butternut Squash with Pecans

– Chop about 1/2 large white onion
– Peel and dice butternut squash into 1/2″ cubes
– In heavy skillet, melt 4-6 tablespoons butter to cook onions until they’re almost caramelized
– Add diced squash and cover until squash is just tender
– Add 1/2 cup of chopped pecans, mixing onions, squash, and nuts
– Sprinkle granulated brown sugar on top

When I make this again, any of you are welcome to join us – just call ahead.

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26 thoughts on “Garlic Roasted Chicken & Butternut Squash with Pecans

  1. Your story is as good as your chicken looks. I bet everyone had trouble eating their ice cream because they were laughing so hard. Lola, if there’s more leftover chicken than you can eat, please send some my way.

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    • Oh we somehow got our ice cream down & were kind of wishing this could go on forever – going out for ice cream was a real treat for us. As for that chicken, it seems that’s it’s getting chopped and put into some chicken tortillas. (there’s always some dog scraps falling on the floor though).

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  2. Your poor mother! I like the idea of butternut squash with pecans – the sort of food we need in the winter. Hope your journey is a little less fraught now. My sister has an impractical (but super fun) sports car and had to abandon it in our last snowfall as it just couldn’t get up the hill to her house. She parked it at a neighbour’s house, next to an identical car belonging to another neighbour who couldn’t get up the hill either.

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    • When I remember my mother, it’s of her in the kitchen or the garden. She grew up on a farm in Maine with 8 brothers and sisters plus farmhands so the cooking never stopped.
      I love my little car and would hate to get rid of it. Usually I can stay home if the weather’s going to be bad but this one caught everyone by surprise. It’s funny though because most of my neighbors have SUVs but sometimes I see those at the bottom of their driveways too. At least once I can get to my driveway, it’s downhill rather than up a mountainside.

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  3. Goodness, I’m glad you got home ok, Diane! And your poor mother indeed – I’d have probably given my sister in law an earful if she pulled that stunt week after week. She should have made Uncle Arthur cook! I do so love reading your stories, thanks for sharing them with us! And your chook (as we call the chicken) looks perfect! 🙂

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    • Well both my parents came from large families and they’d come through the Great Depression knowing how to make a meal stretch. But we never saw much of Aunt Mary and she was a very unhappy woman because she’d always wanted a girl (7 boys kind of pushed her too far). Not long after, she divorced Uncle Arthur and married a man with 7 girls – yes, a regular Brady Bunch. I heard that they bought a small motel and converted it into a home with 1 wing for the boys and the other for the girls.

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    • I gave myself a pat on the back once I got the sled inside. No video on this one but it would have shown me swearing at the garage door – “get up, get up, come on faster….” Thankfully the door didn’t stick or I’d be driving a convertible because there was no stopping until I hit dry concrete or well, in this case the mower.

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  4. The joys of relatives! If that happened round here it would all kick off. Actually we’d all go hide in the bathroom probably. Except my youngest would probably ask why we hid in the bathroom dad right in front of the people we had been hiding from at some future event. He’s good like that.

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  5. I have an Uncle Eddie that has been visiting his relative’s homes for meals for about 70 years now. He’s still doing it. Thank goodness he had no kids. That is a funny story about your family. So sorry about your ordeal with the snow. Thank God you got home safely. I think I’d stay in the house until April now. This chicken looks great. Nothing like a whole chicken in the oven for some comfort and lovely smells in the house.

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    • I guess everyone’s got an Uncle Eddie or Arthur who conveniently show up at mealtimes. And my mother would never think to not offer food if we were eating but 7 hungry boys! I swear Aunt Mary never fed them the week before because I never saw food disappear so fast.
      Oh Judy, it was a tough ride. I decided to come in from the Northboro side but made the mistake of forgetting that hill coming up Maynard St. onto Howard and having to take the turn at the top. I didn’t stop, just prayed that no one was coming on Howard.
      April sounds about right because I don’t think we’re done yet.

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  6. Oh my goodness, so glad you home okay Diane! This snow is really causing havoc all over the show. Think it’s time I sent you some warm African sun.
    What a story about your Uncle and his 7 children! Your poor mom. Funny how some people don’t get a hint!
    Your chicken looks fabulous!
    Have a super day Diane and stay warm.
    🙂 Mandy xo

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    • Well Mandy we have to be through the worst of it. At least we’re not getting that flooding like in England. I grew up in Massachusetts before they had these SUVs or even the front wheel drive cars & somehow managed to get through it all but with this car I do try to stay home.
      It’s amazing that my mother was even able to feed everyone with just one small chicken. I think her trick was to get an extra ton of mashed potatoes going. 7 hungry boys can go through a lot of food.

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  7. What a great dinner, Diane! Too much garlic? Is there such a thing? You have to give you Mother credit. Without saying a word, she let her BIL know that she wasn’t about to cook for two families. Enough was enough – and you got ice cream. Everybody won … well, except your Uncle and Cousins. 🙂
    I feel for you trying to drive in white-out conditions. Been there and if I never do it again, it will be too soon.

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    • I didn’t think you’d have a problem with the garlic. You’re absolutely right about my mother handling things without having to say a word AND that we didn’t complain about the ice cream run.
      I’ll tell you I don’t want to get caught in one of those storms again – it’s amazing how you don’t realize how stressed out it makes you until you get home & collapse.

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  8. It seems I’ve been staying in way more than going out these days. Glad you made it home safely. Your roasted chicken dinner sounds perfect for this cold, cold weather. The way the wind is blowing right now, it sounds like a train is passing.

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    • I may be a fool but I just scheduled a ton of appointments for next week – I mean it will be March. We had that wind the other night & you’re right about it sounding like a train. Even though I was bundled under a down comforter I felt chilly.

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  9. I am glad you arrived home in one piece after sliding down the slick roads. Can you imagine if we ever had freezing rain or snow in Hong Kong (they already drive like maniacs)? Yikes! It would shut the city down. Your story is just hoot! I know how it is as I get those little chickens and really it is only just nearly enough to feed our family. I always love having extra guests I just pile on more carbs and hope it stretches a little further. However, 7 people… no way. I don’t even have the seating for 7 extra people at the dinner table. You chicken looks fabulous and with the beer basting I am sure it is delicious and I am particular happy about your butternut squash with pecans. this si pure comfort food at it’s finest! Wishing you a super day. BAM

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    • No, I can’t imagine this kind of weather in Hong Kong & I’m picturing what it would look like. If that ever happened I hope you get outside & video it for us.
      We didn’t have room for 7 extra people either & some had to eat on the picnic table outside. I wonder why my mother didn’t give them a plate & lock the door after. Here ya go…see ya…

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  10. So glad YOUR rear end didn’t slide out, and you made it home safely. Your Sunday dinner stories were a joy to read, warm and giggle-worthy as usual. The squash and pecan dish looks especially delicious. I know what you mean about turning to comfort/nostalgia foods this season. We’ve been on a spaghetti kick, and I know part of the reason is that it was my dad’s signature dish (though he did it a lot better than I do!).

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    • Me too – I’ve had enough problems with my personal rear end which is why I’ve had so many appointments in Boston. Looks like I’ll be getting a new hip in the near future – I hope I get to chose what style I want.
      Spaghetti is always a comfort food – and if you have 7 extra people show up it can stretch a long way.

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  11. Every family has an “Uncle Arthur,” and I’m that guy in mine. Still, I love your mom’s style. Clutch. — And your chicken looks fabulous. If you want to get out of the weather for a few days, I’m emptying my composters into my vegetable and herb beds this weekend, and I’m preparing plots for okra and squash. If I have time, I’m going to cut some pecan limbs for my mushroom project. I could sure use a hand. 🙂 Don’t bother bringing a jacket.

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    • You could show up here & do your Uncle Arthur for dinner Adam – as long as you don’t bring along 7 hungry boys.
      I would love to help you this weekend…but we’re going to have another foot of snow to shovel.

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  12. Oh my goodness, I love your stories. We have a very popular restaurnt in San Francisco’s North Beach District called The Stinking Rose. Everything on their menu is made with garlic. I kove garlic.

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