Roasted Chicken with Mustard Rosemary Sauce (and a premature parting note to Florida)

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Since all odds point toward me leaving Florida for good within the next few months, I have begun to wax prematurely nostalgic about this strange, sun-washed paradise for the aged. For ten years I have lived here--longer by far than I've lived anywhere else. Yet I still have a hard time calling Florida home. Maybe its because when I arrived at the age of 20 I was planning on being here for no more than a year or two before leaving, and although this notion never changed, I somehow failed to make it out.

There are things I love about Florida. The laid-back atmosphere, the general and genuine friendliness of most people. The beautiful canopy of trees that covers the hilly streets of Tallahassee, where I spent the first five years. The eye-poppingly gorgeous beaches around Sarasota, where I've spent the last five. Amazing restaurants and fresh fish markets are abundant, and the produce is cheap, beautiful, and delicious. I love the prehistoric quality of Florida's state parks, where it seems as though at any minute Tarzan or a brontosaurus could come crashing through the woods. Or Tarzan riding a brontosaurus. That would be cool. Especially if the brontosaurus could shoot lava from its eyes.

There are things I don't like about Florida. I know that ageism is just another form of bias, but it is one that is difficult to avoid here. At least 1/2 of the cars in Sarasota are driven by old people who are either 1) confused, 2) on medication, 3) unable to see over the steering wheel, 4) trying to find a particular street, 5) yelling at eachother, or 6) all of the above. Also, grocery shopping is a real treat on a busy day, and if you don't want to spend an hour and a half in the store you are forced to navigate your shopping cart through aisles where grannies or grampies staring at rows of canned vegetables are stationed like grouchy obstacles in some Nintendo racing game.

I feel bad when my irritation toward Florida's old ones reveals itself. After all, it is a unique bias in the sense that, while I will never be an evangelical Christian, I will, probably, be old someday. At which point I will shake my fist at the arrogant young men who zip past me with their shopping carts--as though they had something to do that really mattered in the long run.

There are other things I'm not crazy about in this state. Without elaborating, let's just say the state is becoming a little too red for my personal tastes. And while southern culture has a wide array of charms ('cue!) that I never appreciated or recognized before living here, I have to say that, having bartended two dayshifts a week for a year at the ABC Liquor Lounge in Tallahassee (which is really southern Georgia,) a number of the less fortunate stereotypes of the south, do, like many stereotypes, exist for a reason.

Keep in mind that most of this doesn't apply to Miami, which is in many ways another world from the rest of Florida, and one that I've only experienced briefly (including a trip to the Miami Zoo to see some monkeys, most of which were seriously depressed and not half as charming or personable as the monkeys and gorillas in the DC Zoo. I demand happy caged animals, damnit!)

When eating Ramen, struggling with a daily commute, or glooming through the rainy, cloudy murk of DC, I will undoubtably miss Florida and the easy, pleasing life of leisure I've led here.

Florida, we had a good run.

What does all of this have to do with Roasted Chicken with Mustard Rosemary Sauce? Nothing. Here's the recipe:

Roasted Chicken with Mustard Rosemary Sauce (easy and delicious)

3 -4 lb. whole chicken (I used a brand of whole chicken called "Smart Chicken." Its organic, free range, air packed, and very tasty, although if it were all that smart, would it be in a package waiting to be eaten? Hahaha. I slay me.)
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup xtra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix the last three ingredients in a bowl. Arrange chicken on a rack in a roasting pan.
2) With half the mustard mixture, coat the sides and top of the chicken. Use a narrow spooon to slide spoonfuls of mixture underneath the skin of the chicken breast. Smoosh around.
3) If you're lucky like me and have an electronic probe thermometer, slide it into the meatiest part of the thigh. When it reads 175 degrees your chicken is ready. With a chicken this size it should take an hour and a half at most. With a 7 or 8 pound chicken it will take up to 2 1/2 hours, the last hour of which you'll want to cover the top of the chicken with tinfoil so as not to burn it.
4) baste occasionally with some of the mustard sauce and the drippings if you like. Or use the dripping later to make a little gravy, but this chicken is succulent enough that it shouldn't need gravy.
4) I also sliced some large potato wedges, carrots, and cut a small onion into quarters, then tossed them in the rest of the mustard mix and arranged them on a baking sheet. About 1/2 hour after putting the chicken in I slid the vegetables in under the chicken. They were delicious.

If you have any chicken left over the day after, its delicious cold tossed with some greens and a light viniagrette.

This recipe came from Bon Appetit, October 2001. I made adjustments to the measurements.


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