PNB dancer Jessika Anspach recently threw a dinner party for fellow corps de ballet dancer Elizabeth Murphy’s birthday. She was kind enough to write up the recipe  and share it with us… and you!

November? Really? Where’d you come from? How did you get here? Well, you sure did sneak up on me…

It’s hard to believe that two months and 13 days have past since I said “I do,” beginning this great new chapter of my life… seems like it was just yesterday. And yet, we’ve been a very busy Mr. and Mrs. McEliece.

Setting up our new home (and by “home” I mean a sweet little one bedroom apartment in the U-District) has been such a joy. Creating and constructing a beautiful, inviting space that reflects not only our individual personalities, but also our mutual loves has been a wonderful challenge. And inviting it must be, because oh how we do love to entertain! And this month we’re provided with ample opportunities…Thanks November!

Not only do we get to celebrate the blessed and bountiful Thanksgiving holiday (promptly followed by the beginning of dun, dun, DUN… NUTCRACKER!!!!), but November is also a month of many many birthdays–my own included.

But there’s one very special lady that passed a “milestone,” if you will, this past weekend. So Ryan and I took full advantage of our new digs, and our love of food and entertaining to throw a wonderful celebration just for her. Miss Elizabeth “Lizzy” Murphy. You’ll just have to look closely at the photos to see which “milestone” it was…

The menu? I wish I could say it was a Beef Wellingotn or braised quail on a bed of mashed heirloom potatoes but, well, it wasn’t.

Okay, okay! It was just a roasted chicken with root veggies. I confess! Sounds kinda sad. So under-acheiving for me, I know. But in my yellow Le Crueset it looked pretty darn fancy… er, well, at least thought so. What do you think?

The best part about this recipe (I take no credit for it… that all belongs to the incredible Alison Wilson) is that it’s deceptively and deliciously simple.   Buy a whole chicken. Buy a lemon, celery stick and some root veggies… you know… carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes… you get my drift. Chop them up.

Coat the chicken with lots of dried herbs. Throw it all together in a dutch oven. Put it in the oven. 

Two hours later and voilá! The most delicious roast chicken you’ll ever taste! You don’t even need a side dish! 

Although we did have a delectable cheese plate for appetizers and a yummy green salad with candied pecans. Gotta get those leafy greens!

It was a lovely night celebratingthe sweetest, most wonderful co-worker and friend anyone could ever ask for. What a gift and a blessing she is to me and to so many! 

So Happy Birthday Lizzy!!! May our Lord richly bless you this year. Blow them candles out girl!!! Just not into your ice cream sundae.

And if you’d like to make Ally’s world famous roast chicken recipe here it is. I mean seriously people you can’t go wrong…  
Ally’s Roast Chicken
1 whole chicken 1 whole lemon, sliced in half 1 stalk celery, leaves attached dried parsley dried thyme dried oregano garlic salt (or garlic powder and kosher salt) ground pepper 1 yellow onion, quartered carrots, peeled and cut into chunks* yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes washed and cubed* garlic cloves*   *amount and selection varies depending on your personal taste and preference as well as the size of your dutch oven. I say the more the merrier.  

1. Preheat your oven to 375˚F.

2. Wash, peel, and cut all veggies making sure that potatoes and carrots are all about the same size (they can be big and chunky if that’s what you prefer) so they cook evenly. Set them aside.

3. Rinse chicken and remove and discard giblets from inside the cavity (if you’d like to save them for stock that’s fine, just make sure to cook them along with the chicken). 

4. Taking half the lemon squeeze the juice coating entire chicken. Stuff the rind inside the cavity of the chicken along with the celery stalk and leaves. You can cut the rind in to quarters if that helps.

5. Sprinkle and rub in equal parts of dried parsley, thyme, oregano, garlic salt and pepper on all sides of the chicken. Be generous. This is what makes it yummy.

6. Place the chicken breast side up in the dutch oven and surround it with all your cut veggies. Go ahead. Pack ’em in! Cut the remaining half lemon into four wedges and squeeze juices all over veggies and chicken. Toss rinds in the pot and cover with the lid.

7. Place the covered dutch oven in the oven and roast for 2 hours. Check the chicken and if need be, remove the lid and switch the oven to “broil” to brown the skin for a few minutes. (I’ve never had to do this as mine has always turned out perfectly browned come the end of 2 hours, but you might want to depending on your oven and your taste.) 8. Enjoy!!!!

** A “P.S.” to this post…
If you love good food but you’re cooking on a budget (like we are) this meal is super economical. We just eye out for when whole chickens are on sale – 99¢ sometimes even 88¢ a pound! And, we buy a couple and keep them stocked in the freezer.

Not only does this recipe yield an incredible chicken dinner, but it’s the foundation for so much more. After we’re done we leave the leftovers in the pot, cover it with water and simmer it for a few hours, making our own homemade chicken stock for soups and other recipes. We’ll just fill an empty (and cleaned) yogurt container and freeze or refrigerate it.

Last night we used the leftover chicken and some of the broth to make the most delicious chicken & veggie soup with carrots, sweet potatoes and kale. It was so delicious and we even have leftovers of that! Like I said, it’s the recipe that just keeps on giving. How appropriate for this month. 

Watch Jessika onstage in Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker and read more on her blog, Just Jessika