Grandma’s Roast Chicken with Onions and Potatoes

If I ever have to spend some time at a hospital, as a patient I mean, I’d like for you to bring me a milkshake. Milkshakes are an appropriate gift any time, of course, but I think being a patient at a hospital, especially, calls for a black and white or, at least, a coffee milkshake.

Grandma seems to like them. Grandma’s in the hospital, recovering from some pretty major cardiac surgery. Without going into all the aortic details, I’ll just say that it was scary stuff, and dammit all to hell if all those tubes and wires and nurses and drips and drugs wouldn’t just make me lose my mind. But, not Grandma.

She has her good days and bad, but Grams is what we like to call a trooper. Like, with a capital T. She ignores all the wires, the needles, the web of plastic tubes. She got agitated in the Intensive Care Unit, not because she was, well, in the ICU, but because she found out that the Yankees had lost their two-game lead in the AL East. Hooked up to multiple beeping screens and monitors, she smiles at the nurses who come in to prick her already purple fingers (under the guise of “checking sugar levels,” load of finger-bruising hogwash, if you ask me), jokes with the physical therapists who make her walk the halls until she’s breathless, refuses to flinch while throwing back her daily 12-pill cocktail and, through the entire ordeal, somehow emerges with absolutely flawless hair.

As beautifully as she’s handling the whole thing, it’s not been easy.  It’s hard to watch someone you love in pain, being uncomfortably poked and prodded and pushed to exhaustion, and handle the fact that you can do, oh, nothing about it.

Except, of course, bring food.  Forget the fact that all of the meds leave Grandma with virtually no appetite – I don’t really care.A milkshake, some applesauce, freshly baked biscotti, home made egg salad – these are things I can control and, well, I’m bringing them.  Never mind that it’s usually Gram’s many visitors, and not Gram herself, doing most of the snacking.  It makes me feel better to be rolling and cutting biscotti, chopping veggies, to be armed with a milkshake as I roam the stark hospital corridors.

I’m not sure when Grandma will be out of the hospital – hopefully pretty soon – but one thing is for certain – pricked and bruised and wired and tubed she may be, but she’ll definitely never be hungry.

Grandma’s Roast Chicken with Onions and Potatoes

It’s hard having a Grandma in the hospital, but it’s equally hard having a mother whose mother is in the hospital.Mom’s been driving herself into the ground trying to stay on top of her already stressful job and keep an eagle eye on Gram’s care, so I made this chicken to have in the house, where it’d be waiting as an easy and comforting dinner after long days spent shuttling from the office to the hospital and back again.


  • 2-3 medium onions, sliced into half-rings
  • ¾ pound baby yellow or Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced in half
  • olive oil
  • 1 whole chicken (bone-in & skin-on), cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • salt
  • pepper


Preheat the oven to 400ºF.Toss the onion slices and potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper, and arrange on the bottom of a large glass baking dish.

Rub the chicken pieces with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.Arrange the chicken, skin-side up, on top of the onion/potato bed.

Slice the lemon in half, and squeeze the juice from ½ the lemon over the chicken, onions and potatoes.Cut a few thin slices of lemon and arrange on top of the dish.Squeeze the juice of the remaining piece of lemon onto the casserole.

Sprinkle a generous amount of thyme leaves, and a few whole thyme stems, on top of the chicken, onions and potatoes.

Bake the chicken at 400ºF for about an hour, until the skin gets dark and crispy and the meat’s juices run clear.Serve with a bit of rice and a crisp arugula salad.

Note: this dish can easily be made ahead of time – just let the chicken cool before storing it in the fridge or freezer, and, when you’re ready to eat, cover the dish with foil and reheat in a 350º oven for about ½ hour.

Serves 4-6.

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4 Responses to Grandma’s Roast Chicken with Onions and Potatoes

  1. Anonymous says:

    your grama has an awesome, wise, very special fan and she will enjoy this delicious chicken dish soon! how special are YOU??!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    you're a good daughter/granddaughter…and you're makin the rest of us look bad!

  3. molly says:

    thanks, "anonymous" – nice try mom and lissie 🙂

  4. Jane says:

    i'm crying…… molly — you are THE BEST — and i am hoping/praying/believing that gram will be just fine…..she HAS to be, after the chicken. Can't begin to tell you how much i adore you…

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