Perhaps you’ve heard of the “chatzos movement” that has been swelling around the Jewish world over the last couple of years. Over three years ago, when I first read about the idea of being entirely ready for Shabbos by mid-day on Friday (chatzos) in the Yated newspaper, it sparked my interest. I read about the Chofetz Chaim assuring a distressed couple with a sick child that in the merit of this commitment, their child would be healed. They couple did as suggested, and the child has indeed healed. The merit of early preparation for Shabbos was so promising, I dived into the chatzos waters with a lot of enthusiasm and no guidance of how to do it. But I figured it out, and discovered that the blessings of early preparation for Shabbos is many times what I had originally imagined. Our household is now one of peace and calm on Friday afternoons. Our children positively anticipate Shabbos, and Erev Shabbos, instead of associating Erev Shabbos with chaos and tension. Our Shalom Bayis has never been better. I think about Shabbos every day of the week now, as I prepare in some way for Shabbos every day, instead of waiting until Thursday or Friday. Best of all, I enjoy a concrete way to say, “Thank you” to Hashem, for all the blessings He has bestowed upon me.
We have created a community of fellow chatzos lovers, women all over the world, from all different Orthodox ways of life, who are joined through an email forum and chatzos website to offer one another chizzuk, suggestions, strategies, and celebrations.
Years ago when I developed the recipes for my cookbook, “After the Diet, Delicious Kosher Recipes with Less Fat, Calories and Carbs”, I was focused on converting traditionally unhealthy recipes into healthier alternatives ( without them tasting like health food). Our family has been eating this way for years, with good results. We don’t feel like we’re “dieting” but healthy eating is a family value. My kids can read a food label, and they know what trans fats are, and how to avoid them.
Now, with chatzos on my mind, I particularly appreciate those recipes that can be made in advance and put into the freezer, so that the cooking can be spread out throughout the week and month. Some food I will make fresh, on wed, Thursday and Friday morning, but now Sunday is a very useful Shabbos prep day as well!
(And you can’t beat the comfort that comes from knowing that there is Shabbos food in the freezer in case an unexpected life challenge derails your normal schedule!)
Here are two chicken recipes for Shabbos that share two things in common: One, they can be made either fresh or ahead of time for the freezer. Two, there’s no potchke involved! Easy Shmeasy and oh so tasty!
1 or 2 packages of 4 chicken legs, or a whole chicken cut up
1 large onion, sliced
1 can of black olives, sliced
2-3 cups medium heat salsa ( unless everyone in your family likes it hotter)
Salt and garlic to taste
Preheat oven to 300F or use a large slow cooker
1. Remove fat from chicken and clean
2. Slice onion
3. Cut olives into slices if you didn’t buy them that way already
4. Place onion in bottom of roasting pan or slow cooker. Place chicken on top. Pour salsa all over the chicken. Sprinkle olives all over the chicken. Salt and garlic to taste.
5. Slow bake at 300F degrees, covered, for about 2 hours until almost done. Remove the lid. Raise oven temp to 450F and roast chicken for another half hour until completely done. (If using slow cooker, remove from cooker and finish in the oven).
6. Serve hot with steaming brown rice cooked in vegetable broth, with Smart Balance or some other parve margarine added for extra flavor. (If you are preparing this dish early for Shabbos, prepare the chicken for the freezer, and cook the rice at the end of the week so it’s fresh)
1 pullet or chicken
2 fresh lemons
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
Sliced portabello mushrooms
1 onion, sliced
Olive oil cooking spray
Garlic powder, paprika, kosher salt
1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Slice the onion and place with sliced portabellas on the bottom of a roasting pan or dutch oven.
3. Place the chicken over the vegetables in the pan.
4. Cut one lemon into quarters. Stuff the chicken cavity with four lemon quarters. Stuff 1 tablespoon of garlic inside as well ( two if you really love garlic).
5. Tie up the chicken or fasten a metal skewer to close up the cavity.
6. Spray the chicken lightly with cooking oil. Cut the second lemon in half and squirt it all over the chicken. Sprinkle garlic powder, paprika, and kosher salt.
7. Bake at 400F for 1 hour and 15- 30 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken/pullet. Do not open the pan. When cooking time is finished, turn oven off and let chicken stay in warm oven, inside of the dutch oven or roasting pan, for at least two more hours.
Prepare fresh towards the end of the week, or early in the week for the freezer.
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