Rosh Hashanah Made Easy With Chicken

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins this year at sundown on Friday, Sept. 26. It is a time to gather with family and friends and enjoy special holiday foods.

Traditionally, foods sweetened with honey are eaten to symbolize a sweet and happy year ahead. Apples and honey, eaten with a freshly baked round challah are served at the beginning of the Rosh Hashanah dinner. The round shape of the bread symbolizes unending happiness.

When I was growing up, Shabbat dinner meant roast chicken — always baked in tomato sauce — with onions, carrots, celery and potatoes. The recipe never changed.

And this year, since Rosh Hashanah eve falls on a Friday, I have included several chicken dishes that I prepared at a recent cooking class. They are perfect for the main course, since they can be prepared in advance and served warm or cold.

The rolled chicken breasts are a creation of Chef Michel Richard, formerly of Citrus Restaurant and now in Washington, D.C., Richard rolled the chicken breasts and wrapped them in plastic wrap so that they looked like a sausage and roasted them.

The herb marinade for the whole roast chickens recipe was inspired by Chef Bruce Marder. He includes this marinade on many of his dishes at Capo Restaurant in Santa Monica.

The Salsa Verde is a recipe from Papa Giovanni Santini, the owner of Ristorante Dal Pescatore in Italy. Santini serves it with the chicken he grills for the family on the day the restaurant is closed.

The B’stilla (Chicken Pie) is my adaptation of the traditional Moroccan dish that normally uses pigeon. Garnish the three chicken dishes with pomegranate seeds, one of the fruits that is traditional to serve during Rosh Hashanah.

For dessert, make this delicious Honey Glazed Apple Tart which completes the meal, and continues the theme of serving apples and honey that began our holiday dinner.

B’stilla (Chicken Pie)

For the chickens:

2 chickens, 3 pounds each, with giblets

1/4 cup olive oil

4 tablespoons unsalted margarine or oil

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup chopped onion

1 garlic clove, crushed

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup chopped cilantro


Freshly ground black pepper

For the Fillings:

1 pound unsalted margarine

1 1/2 cups sliced almonds

1/2 cup minced onion

3 garlic cloves, minced

9 eggs, lightly beaten

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro


Freshly ground black pepper

6 tablespoons sugar


1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

For the assembly:

1 package (16) filo sheets

Powdered sugar

Place the whole chickens, breast bone down, in a Dutch oven. Add the giblets, oil, margarine, ginger, onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, salt, pepper and 2 cups of water, or enough to reach one-third up the sides of the chicken.

Preheat the oven to 450 F.

Bring to a boil, turn chickens breastside up, and stir to mix spices. Place in the oven for one hour. Baste the chickens with the sauce. If chickens are a little pink, they will cook again inside the B’stilla. When chickens are cooked, cool, reserving the broth. Bone, separating meat into bite-size pieces and set aside.

For the fillings, melt 3 tablespoons of the margarine in a skillet and sauté the almonds until golden brown. Set aside. In another skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of the margarine and sauté the onion and garlic until soft. Beat the eggs in a bowl with the parsley, cilantro and salt and pepper to taste. Add to onion mixture and cook until set. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and set aside.

Melt the remaining margarine and use it to brush a large ovenproof pie pan. Place one sheet of filo on the bottom. Brush with margarine and continue in this manner using eight sheets of filo. Spread the chicken in an even layer over the pastry and top with the egg mixture, spreading evenly. Combine almonds and sugar mixture and sprinkle over the eggs.

Place a sheet of filo over the filling and brush with margarine. Continue in this manner until remaining filo leaves are used. Fold top layers of filo under the bottom ones. Brush under seam and top with margarine. Can hold at this point for at least two hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Just before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar. For an attractive pattern, cover the top of the B’stilla with a paper stencil for crisscross, so the cinnamon can be sprinkled on in a heavy crisscross. Transfer to a large serving platter.

Rolled Chicken Breasts with Vegetable Stuffing

Vegetable Stuffing (recipe follows)

8 chicken breasts (4 whole, boned and cut in half)

1/4 cup oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

3 carrots, thinly sliced

1 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup dry white wine

Prepare the stuffing and cool.

Place a chicken breast, skin side down, on a sheet of wax paper, cover with another sheet of wax paper and using a mallet or tenderizer, gently pound the breast until desired thickness.

Spoon stuffing in the center and roll up the chicken breast, encasing the stuffing and tie with string. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.

Line a baking pan with foil, brush with oil and arrange onions and carrots on top. Place stuffed chicken breasts on top, brush with oil and season with salt and pepper.

Add stock and wine and bake at 375 F for 20 minutes, then increase the heat to 425 F. Bake about five minutes more, or until chicken is tender and crisp. Transfer to a cutting board and slice on the bias.

To serve, arrange sliced chicken breasts on plates and spoon any juices from pan that remain.

Serves 8.

Vegetable Stuffing

1/4 cup safflower, vegetable or peanut oil

3 onions, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 ribs celery, finely chopped

1 bunch carrots, peeled and grated

1 parsnip, peeled and grated

2 large zucchini, unpeeled and grated

1/2 cup minced parsley

1/2 cup plumped raisins

2 tablespoons matzah meal

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons oatmeal

1/4 cup red wine


Freshly ground black pepper

In a large heavy skillet, heat oil and sauté onions and garlic until transparent. Add celery, carrots, parsnip, zucchini, toss and sauté for five minutes until vegetables soften. Add parsley, raisins, and mix thoroughly. Simmer five minutes. Blend in matzah meal, flour, oatmeal, add wine and mix well. Add additional dry ingredients, one tablespoon at a time, until stuffing is a soft texture and not dry. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Butterflied Roast Chicken with Fresh Herb Infusion and Salsa Verde

Fresh Herb Infusion (recipe follows)

Salsa Verde (recipe follows)

1 (4-pound) or 2 (2-pound) whole chickens

Mirepoix (small cubes or slices of vegetables):

1 onion, sliced and diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

1 parsnip, peeled and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons minced parsley

1 bottle dry white wine

1 head garlic, unpeeled, cloves separated

Prepare the herb infusion and Salsa Verde.

Split the chicken along the entire length of the back, removing backbone from tail to neck. Open it out, skin side up. With a mallet, (for big chickens) or heel of hand, flatten with a firm whack, fracturing the breastbone and ribcage. (Optional: Turn the chicken over and take out the ribcage and cartilage with a very sharp boning knife, taking care not to break the skin.)

Sprinkle the mirepoix mixture on a foil-lined large roasting pan, and place the chicken on top, skin-side up.

Preheat the oven to 450 F.

Working with your fingertips, separate the skin from the meat of the chicken, beginning at the neck end, being careful not to tear the skin. Place herb infusion under the skin, all the way to the thigh. Smooth skin to disperse the mixture evenly; molding the skin with your hands to resemble the natural contours of the chicken. Rub the top of the chicken with herb infusion.

Pour the white wine around the chickens and arrange unpeeled garlic cloves under the chickens. Bake for 10 minutes and reduce the oven temperature to 375 F and bake for 45 minutes to one hour longer, depending on the size of the chicken. Baste every 20 minutes. If chicken browns too quickly, cover it loosely with foil. If the wine cooks away too quickly, add more. Remove the foil during the last 10 minutes, allowing the chicken to brown.

Fresh Herb Infusion:

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme

2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Olive oil, to moisten stuffing

Salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, combine garlic, rosemary, thyme, basil, chives, and parsley. Pour in enough olive oil to cover. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with plastic wrap until needed.

Makes about 2/3 cup.

Salsa Verde:

1 cup tightly packed fresh parsley sprigs, minced

3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced

Juice of 1 or 2 lemon

1 cup olive oil

Salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, using a wire whisk, beat parsley, garlic, and lemon juice. Continue beating, adding olive oil in a thin stream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a smaller bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill. Beat with a wire whisk just before serving.

Makes about 3 cups.

Apple Tart with Sweet Pastry

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup unsalted margarine (or butter)

3 tablespoons water or nondairy liquid creamer (or milk)

Glazed Apple Slices (see recipe)

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Cut in the margarine until the mixture is crumbly. Blend in the water until the dough begins to come together. Do not overmix. Knead the dough into a ball, wrap it in waxed paper and chill it for at least 10 minutes in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Roll pastry out, on two large sheets of floured waxed paper, rounded large enough to cover and overlap an 11-inch flan pan with a removable bottom. For easier handling, cover the pastry with another sheet of waxed paper and fold pastry in half. (The waxed paper protects the center of pastry from sticking together.)

Lift the pastry from the bottom waxed paper and place on half of the flan pan (or cut rounds and arrange on tartlett pans). Unfold the pastry and remove the waxed paper which covers it. (At this point the pastry can be covered with plastic wrap and foil and stored in the refrigerator or freeze for several days.)

Bring the pastry to room temperature. Spread a light coating of margarine on a sheet of waxed paper and place it, coated side down, inside of the pastry, overlapping around the outside. Cover with another piece of waxed paper with the cut ends in the opposite direction. Fill the center of the waxed paper lined pie shell with uncooked rice or bakers jewels. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the sides of the pastry begin to brown. Carefully remove the waxed paper with the rice and continue baking until the bottom of the pastry is lightly brown. Remove from the oven and cool.

Arrange glazed apple slices in concentric circles on the baked pastry. Brush with a thin layer of glaze.

Serve immediately.

Makes 1 (11-inch) tart shell or 6 to 8 tartletts.


For meringue topping: In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites with salt, until soft peaks form. Add the white sugar, a little at a time, beating well until stiff peaks form. Fill a pastry tube fitted with decorative tip with the meringue. Cover the glazed apple slices with meringue rosettes, including the edge of the crust. Bake for 10-15 minutes or place under the broiler until meringue is lightly toasted.

Glazed Apple Slices

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup orange marmalade

1/2 cup orange juice

Juice and grated zest of one lemon

6 large golden delicious apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

In a large, heavy skillet, combine the sugar, honey, marmalade and orange juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the sugar and marmalade have dissolved. Bring this syrup to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer three to four minutes, just until it begins to thicken.

Place the apple slices in a large bowl and toss with lemon juice to prevent them from discoloring. Add the apples and lemon juice to the syrup in the skillet and toss to coat the apples. Simmer, covered for 10-15 minutes until the apples are soft. Transfer them to a glass bowl and cool to room temperature.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator. Serve with chicken or use for Apple Tart.

Judy Zeidler is the author of “The Gourmet Jewish Cook” and “The 30-Minute
Kosher Cook.” Her Web site is