I rarely pass on e-mail chain letters, but when a recipe swap hit my inbox last week I couldn’t resist. I had to reply with one easy recipe, and then forward the e-mail to twenty friends. Done. Hypothetically I should get 36 recipes back; I’ve received eight already, which is a much better return rate than I ever expected.
This chicken recipe came to me through that exchange from artist Ellen Fisch. Her Web site is an online gallery of her work, and it’s beautiful — look for “Golden Valley” and “Two Umbrellas,” my favorite paintings of those online.
Here’s what Ellen had to say on the origin of the recipe:
The New York Post used to run a column in the 1970’s (& possibly 80’s) that printed interviews with famous people/celebrities and included their favorite recipes. One column was devoted to Neil Sedaka: I always admired Neil Sedaka and thought the recipe sounded good. Leba [Neil’s wife] said that their housekeeper had the easiest chicken recipe that was great hot or cold. I made it, loved it & am so glad you do, too.
This is a simple, satisfying recipe that has a not-too-sweet barbecue sauce flavor (without the smoke). I only had reduced-sugar ketchup in my fridge, so I used that. Regular ketchup with a higher sugar content would probably work a bit better, as it would caramelize more. Regardless, it really is good both hot and cold.
Don’t forget to sing “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” while you cook.
Neil Sedaka’s Chicken
Adapted slightly from a late 1970s NY Post interview with Neil & Leba Sedaka
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 roaster chicken, in eighths (skin on or off, your choice)
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 Tbsp. prepared mustard (I used one with whole mustard seeds)
4 Tbsp. ketchup
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Spread half of the onion in a layer on the bottom of a roasting pan and arrange chicken skin-side up (even if you have removed the skin) on top. Add remaining onion on top of the chicken. Sprinkle with vinegar and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Mix garlic, mustard, and ketchup together and brush over chicken and onions.
Bake for an hour and a half, turning once, until chicken is cooked through. Serve hot, room temperature, or cold straight from the fridge.