Great Grandfather’s Persistent Cotillion Roast Chicken

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The following material may not be appropriate for all ages and/or conservative workplaces.

If your child or boss is nearby, you might have some things to explain.

Blair & Charlie’s Kitchen Reveries
December 2020 post

Image of a cooked chicken resting on a wooden cutting board.

Hello, good tidings, happy holidays, thank you for joining me here, etc.!

Our Cotillion Roast Chicken recipe arrived in this country on a slip of paper tucked into the pocket of Blair’s great grandfather’s tattered wool coat. Decades later, Blair’s grandmother inherited the secret instructions, and eventually bestowed them unto Blair along with the family traits of being emotionally distant, hypercritical of others, and easily bored.

Let’s get cooking, as they say!

Image of herbs, a lemon, and an onion sitting on a wooden cutting board.

As long-time visitors to our blog know, every December we post a slight variation on Blair’s great grandfather’s secret roast chicken recipe.

The slight variation this year: Blair left me!

As long as we’re on the topic, here are other things Blair left:

  • ten years’ worth of clothes in various closets
  • floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled with books I have no use for
  • me in charge of this blog

But don’t judge Blair too harshly for leaving, reader. Here are some things Blair did NOT leave:

  • our car
  • our envelope of holiday spending cash on the windowsill in the study
  • the green binder containing the secret recipe for this roast chicken
Image of a raw chicken, a knife, and a bowl sitting on a wooden cutting board.

You probably have a lot of questions, and let me just say: I am right there with you on that. I am sure you are wondering, “How big a chicken do I buy?” And, “Why, after so many years, has Blair decimated this relationship?” And, “Did I miss some kind of warning signs?”

But, alas. It’s been a year of reality and expectations diverging. Over a quarter of a million dead of the virus. That’s certainly not what I expected. Wildfires, protests, divisiveness, a close election. We didn’t expect any of that either. Should we have seen all of this coming?


It won’t take a genius historian to figure out how we got here. We set about destroying the planet; the planet was thereafter destroyed. We elected a racist imbecilic tyrant as president; the democracy was subsequently eroded. We built a marriage out of sexual attraction and a shared love of publishing long-form casserole recipes on the Internet; the relationship proved too fragile to endure.

We should have seen it all coming.

Image of a raw chicken, knife, and bowl sitting on a cutting board. Inside the bowl are herbs and a fork.

Now let’s get down to business and roast this chicken, before the holidays come and go!

The recipe having departed with Blair, I’m working solely from memory here, and my recollection is that the ingredients are irrelevant. You need a chicken and an oven. Everything else, whatever. Lemons, garlic, potatoes, a pinecone, gravel. The chicken ultimately will taste like chicken. 

Image of a raw chicken, lemon, garlic, and onion in a pot on a stovetop.

If memory serves, one must enter the chicken rectally, clearing away the viscera with one’s hands and disposing of it, and then re-enter with a lemon you’ve knife-poked several times and a cup of an herbed butter-and-crumb mixture. The ratio of butter-to-breadcrumb, and the type of herb, surely don’t matter.

Just occurred to me: Blair might be reading this, as a way to check in and see what I’ve been doing.

Are you there, B?

Who are you with? Is it Robert?

Image of an open door taken from inside a home.

You know, I met Blair’s grandmother, Claudette, twice. She looked like a bat. Sharp-faced. Sparsely haired skin stretched tight over bones that protruded from places it didn’t seem like bones should be. I remember thinking, “Is that another elbow?”

The year before Claudette died, Blair and I hosted Thanksgiving and Claudette pulled me aside and said, “I hope Blair keeps you.” It meant nothing then, and I don’t attach meaning to it now. Irrelevant squeals of a bat-person.

Image of a cooked chicken resting on a wooden cutting board.

I suggest roasting the chicken at 425°F for an hour or so, basting once or twice with the juices collecting in the roasting dish.

Blair always writes these, but I’m finding this process to be therapeutic. In fact, I’m enjoying myself. Are we conflating eating with feeling, and reading-about-cooking with participating-in-an-actual community? Maybe. But maybe that’s okay.

Reader, we deserve joy and love, even if it comes gift-wrapped in the pity of strangers. I hope you’re spending this holiday with someone who wouldn’t be disappointed to find you here, doing this. Cheers!

Image of chicken bones and a fork sitting on a wooden cutting board.

Great Grandfather’s Persistent Cotillion Roast Chicken

Author: Charlie
Servings: 1-5

Prep time: a day or so including shopping/thinking
Cook time: an hour
Total time: 25 hrs


  • 1 typical chicken
  • herbs
  • butter
  • a lemon
  • salt, pepper


Evacuate chicken orifice manually, then insert a lemon you’ve sliced several slits into, as well as a mixture of one softened stick of butter and a cup of herbs. Rub some herbs and butter on the exterior of the chicken as well. Tie the bird up good with butcher’s string or a shoelace. Roast in a pan slightly larger than the chicken at 425° for an hour. Cool 15 minutes.