Spring chicken

It’s spring. Officially. Finally. And that makes me think of chicken.

Oh sure—it also makes me think of daffodils and trees leafing out and baby ducks and jellybeans.

But also, chicken.

You know, because of the phrase “spring chicken.”

Spring chickens don’t really exist any more, at least not as culinary opportunities. It used to be that chickens were hatched in the spring and so a spring chicken was a markedly young, small, and tender one.

Nowadays, though, chickens are hatched year-round, so there’s nothing special about one in the springtime. Also year-round, if you want a small chicken you can buy a Rock Cornish game hen. But they’re not young chickens—Cornish hens are simply a breed that produces a very tiny bird.

More than you ever wanted to know about chickens!

But my mind wanders to chickens in the springtime nevertheless. Specifically roast chicken. It just seems seasonally appropriate, falling perfectly between the chicken braises, soups, and stews of winter and the grilled chicken and chicken salads of summer.

And what could be simpler than a roast chicken?

Sprinkle on a little salt and pepper, maybe some herbs. Put a halved lemon or orange in the cavity—or not. Stick it in the oven, wait about an hour, pour yourself a glass of Chardonnay—a perfect pairing with roast chicken—and enjoy.

Yes, you can fress about the best way to get perfectly crisped skin or whether to do a wet or dry brine. The merits of a hot oven or a slow one. But you do so at the risk of convincing yourself that roasting a chicken is somehow hard or complicated.

Which it’s not.

So enjoy a nice roast chicken.

Spring has sprung.

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