I grew up a Korean-American Presbyterian girl in New York's lower Westchester county, in a town that was predominantly Irish and Italian-Catholic, but was also home to many Jewish-American families. I will always credit my best friend, Liz, who lived next door, for being my gateway into a lifelong exposure of Jewish culture: lighting candles on Hanukkah; accompanying her to temple where we'd chase each other (instead of her going to class); cracking up over Mel Brooks movies on our sleepovers; her trying to teach me to read Hebrew; and how my first teaching job out of college was at a Hassidic preschool in Stamford, Connecticut.
As Morah Caroline, I taught children how to make challah, led brachas before meals, and kept Kosher in my professional life (while downing non-kosher everythings at her nearby apartment after work). The memories of being an "honorary member" of a Jewish family remain truly some of my happiest, and still make for the best times as an adult, right down to having a hora at my Korean-Presbyterian-Taiwanese-Colombian-Catholic wedding!
Since Liz was an only child, I was present for nearly every holiday meal. Rosh Hashanah dinners, unlike Passover seders, were a time when there would be more joys involved for the parents than just watching us kids running around to find the afikomen (and for the record, she always won). I can recall the smells of onions from the brisket, roast chicken that eventually made its way into matzah ball soup the next day, kugel, and topping the meal off with an apple-honey cake in hopes of a sweet new year. That was the part that has stuck with me — eating something with honey in hopes of a happy and sweet new year.
Another thing I came to associate with Rosh Hashanah dinner — or any special occasion dinner, really — was the sight, scent, and taste of a whole-roasted chicken on a bed of vegetables, the warm scent of herbs permeating Liz's house all day long, sometimes trickling over to our windows next door. As my parents usually cooked chicken in pieces, it felt like a rite of passage when I finally roasted my very first whole chicken for family and friends. I have the tendency to marinate my favorite roast chicken recipes with sweet herbs and honey, because I, too, have now come to associate honey with new beginnings, be it a year or a season.
To an assuming onlooker, one could say that both our heritages are completely different, and the contrast between us obvious. However, I can honestly say that one doesn't have to look that closely to see the similarities. Just as Liz would happily nosh on the rice, dried seaweed, and mandoo my parents prepared at my house, the feeling was mutual when I'd be at her house, having whatever goodness her mother had from Zabar's. It doesn't make us all-knowing of each other's cultures by any means, but it gave us truly the best introduction to each others' lives and a lifelong best friendship.
Though Rosh Hashanah dinners with her family are now in my past, since we've gotten older and we no longer live next door to one another, I still find myself craving and making celebratory recipes during this time of the year. How great a concept it is, to be able to have an extension of different family and traditions that get to become your own. Making a roast chicken with honey is just one way I'll continue to pay proper homage to such times, and I'll always thank Liz and her family for letting me be part of theirs.
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Chicken recipes for Rosh Hashanah
Up the ante with this roast chicken recipe that balances sweet, earthy, and floral flavors in one fantastic bite. For an all-in-one dish for Rosh Hashanah, roast the chicken with an assortment of vegetables like potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots.
If you love balsamic vinegar (and you know, if you eat chicken too), then you're going to LOVE this recipe for balsamic chicken. The syrupy vinegar is used as both a marinade for the chicken and is mixed with softened butter for an ultra-rich glaze for serving.
Honey is a staple ingredient for Rosh Hashanah because it symbolizes a sweet new year. So we really can't think of a better recipe to celebrate the Jewish New Year with than this one, which calls for a glaze made with garlic, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, oregano, and apple cider vinegar.
A speedy sear followed by a quick braise is the key to getting ultra-flavorful chicken thighs for a Rosh Hashanah dinner. Try using coconut cream in place of the heavy whipping cream for a dairy-free dish.
There's nothing worse than hosting a holiday dinner like Rosh Hashanah and being overloaded with dirty pots and pans at the end of the night. Eliminate some stress and a sink full of dishes, with this one-skillet chicken recipe. We like using bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs because they're more forgiving than chicken breasts and get extra-crispy.
Food52 co-founder Amanda Hesser's mother developed this recipe for the crispiest-ever chicken thighs using a well-seasoned, flour-based breading.
"This is a best-of-all-worlds roast chicken," writes recipe developer Lindsay Maitland Hunt. That's a bold statement, but she's not wrong. Stuff a whole chicken with fresh herbs like rosemary and parsley, plus lemon wedges, and roast it in the oven until the skin is crispy and meat is thoroughly cooked.
Lemon, rosemary, thyme, sage, and garlic meld together to enhance the flavors of a roast chicken in this recipe.
Our secret to this classic roast chicken recipe for Rosh Hashanah is using Lillet, a fortified French wine that's more aromatic than a regular Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. Add it to the bottom of a roasting pan along with a little water and butter for an easy-peasy pan sauce.
This extra-bright, extra-lemony chicken is worthy of a special occasion. And the prep work couldn't be easier, so that you will have more time to spend celebrating with loved ones.
The star power in this roast chicken dish for Rosh Hashanah comes in the form of an herby, zesty yogurt sauce made with cilantro, parsley, dill, chives, and scallions. It's a fresh, fragrant compliment to quick-cooking lemon chicken.
Embrace the transition from summer to fall with maple-glazed delicata squash. The autumnal vegetable is served alongside a whole chicken that we've spatchcocked and roasted on a sheet tray. It offers easy clean-up for every home cook.