Perfect for Passover Chicken

Another Passover approaches, another year when ronicooks is not doing a Seder.  So sad to admit that my many years of hosting a sumptuous Passover feast and a Seder led by my son have come to an end.  Family members are far-flung or departed, along with my will to cobble together a table of friends for the occasion.

And yet, the desire to prepare dishes that are Passover-perfect is still strong, if only for the immediate family.  This Sweet & Spicy roast chicken, adapted from the NYT cooking site, is just such a dish.  I make it in a 12″ cast iron skillet, but if doubled or tripled for a large gathering, it can easily be done in a larger roasting pan.

Husband and I are having this for dinner tonight, along with the challah I baked this afternoon, along with a skillet of oven herbed oven-roasted red-skin potato wedges and steamed snap peas.  But if you’re doing a Passover dinner, lose the challah, substitute matzo and potato kugel, and make this ahead of time because it keeps well and merely needs reheating while you enjoy the proceedings with your guests:


(adapted from New York Times)


1 Meyer lemon quartered and sliced thinly

3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tsp kosher salt

3 tbsp orange or ruby red grapefruit juice

4 tbsp EVOO

1-1/2 tbsp whole grain mustard

3 tbsp honey

1 bay leaf

1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 4-lb air-chilled chicken cut into 8 pieces, wing-tips removed

1 large sweet onion halved and thinly sliced

3 cups carrots thinly sliced on the bias

2/3 cup Bob’s Red Mill chopped date pieces

1 tsp dried thyme


thinly sliced scallions, chopped parsley or cilantro, and chopped pistachios


In a small saucepan, combine lemon juice, orange or grapefruit juice, olive oil, mustard, honey, bay leaf, pepper flakes, and black pepper.  Bring a boil, then simmer about 5 minutes and remove from heat to cool.

In a large bowl – 5 quart mixing bowl, for example – combine the cooled sauce with carrots, onions, dates, cut-up Meyer lemon, and thyme, and then add the chicken pieces and turn several times to make sure everything is incely coated.  Refrigerate as long as overnight.

Preheat oven to 425 and remove chicken pieces from the bowl so you can easily pour everything else into a 12″ cast iron skillet or small roasting pan.  Lay the chicken pieces atop the vegetables, skin side up.



Roast for 35 minutes, basting occasionally, ubntil skin is nicely browned.  Reduce temperature to 350 and roast another 20 minutes, continuing to baste.


and done!

To serve, remove chicken pieces to serving platter and pour sauce & veggies over.

Garnish and serve.


garnished with parsley, scallions & crushed pistachios


my dinner plate – yum!


Not Just for Passover Brisket

With Rosh Hashanah approaching next week, I’m reposting my best brisket recipe because it’s surely not just for Passover!

Brisket is to Passover what turkey is to Thanksgiving – traditional, expected, long-cooking, and  – just as with those oversized stuffed birds – everyone has their own   one-and-only, tried-and-true, never-mess-with-it, shut-up-or-I’ll kill-you version.  I created my own best brisket many years ago, taking the best of what I liked from several recipes from my cookbook library and eschewing the overly-fussy ones on the web.  I’ve passed it on to friends and family who also swear by it.  But no matter what your brisket preference is – and I do hope you enjoy this one – remember always to:

  1. Make it the day before serving
  2. Reduce the sauce
  3. Slice it against the grain, on the bias, once it’s cooled
  4. Store it sliced and covered with your sauce until ready to reheat for serving
  5. Ponder the question of why we celebrate a holiday where the Hebrews fled without time to leaven their bread, and yet we spend hours and days in the kitchen cooking for it


6-7 lbs. lb. flat cut brisket (can be two separate smaller briskets cooked one atop the other if necessary)
3 tbs. sweet Hungarian paprika
2 tbs. vegetable or olive oil
4 cups ginger ale
2 pkgs. Mrs. Grass or Goodman’s Onion Soup mix – or 4 ounces Frontier Natural Onion Soup Mix (a former client)
1 cup marinara sauce (Trader Joe’s Low Fat Toscano marinara works nicely)
1 can whole-berry cranberry sauce (avoid the High Fructose Corn Syrup if you can)
6 ounces dried pitted prunes
24-30 baby carrots, or 5 medium carrots cut on the diagonal into 1/2″ thick slices

Preheat oven to 350. Coat the brisket all over with the paprika. Heat the oil in a large roasting pan over two burners and sear the brisket about four minutes on each side. Remove to a platter. Reduce heat in the roasting pan to medium low and in it combine the ginger ale, onion soup mix, tomato sauce, and cranberry sauce, scraping up any browned bits, just until it begins to boil. Return brisket to the roasting pan and spoon the sauce all over it, cover very tightly with heavy-duty foil and bake for 75 minutes. Then remove from oven, gently remove and save the foil, add the carrots and pitted prunes, turn brisket over, re-cover with the foil and bake for another 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours until very tender when pierced with a fork.

Remove brisket to a platter. Reduce the sauce, boiling and stirring over a medium high heat for about 10 minutes to slightly thicken. Let it cool at room temperature and slice the brisket against the grain, on the bias, into 1/4”” thick slices and pour the sauce over. Refrigerate, covered, and remove from fridge about an hour before you plan to reheat it.  Reheat at 300 for about an hour while you enjoy your Seder.