The Morning: Melissa Clark’s Saturday recipe

The cure for overambitious weekends.

Good morning. A good weekend is one in which you break with the routines of the week.

Rosie Barker

Weekends well spent

Consider the weekend, two entire days uncharted and unblemished, if you're lucky, blanks to fill in however you wish. That is the view of the weekend from afar — from Thursday, say — when the demands of work or school chafe and you fantasize about how you'll fill those unscheduled hours.

On Saturday mornings, I'm raw ambition. The bounty of 48 hours seems almost too much. What errand won't be run? What household chore won't be conquered? Let's stack social engagements one on top of the other, brunch to soccer game to your cousin's bar mitzvah, let's sleep when we're dead! Or let's sleep now, squeeze in a cat nap, perhaps a leisurely lie-down with a book? Surely there's enough time.

Sometimes I'll devise a list of things I plan to do on a Saturday and then observe myself not doing any of them, almost as if absurdly proving to some invisible taskmaster that no one, not even me, will decide what I'm going to do today.

The best weekends, I've found, are not the ones where I try (and often fail) to squeeze in a lifetime's worth of fun and productivity, but the ones where I deliberately do something that would be impossible during the week. This might be going to a museum, or out to breakfast. It might be sleeping in or going offline, taking a day trip or just doing several loads of laundry.

I try to plan my weekends with my Sunday-night self in mind: What will future me be glad to have done? What can I do to minimize the feeling that the tick tick tick of the "60 Minutes" clock is counting down my final seconds of freedom?

One of my favorite things to do on the weekend is cook something a little more elaborate, or at least different from what I usually make during the week. It's a double gift: You get the pleasure of the cooking accomplishment, then the delight of a special meal. So I'm thrilled that, starting this week, my colleague Melissa Clark will be dropping in each Saturday with a recipe of the week, a dish she's selected for this week that I hope you will join me in trying. This week, it's roasted chicken Provençal. Let me know how it goes.

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Roasted Chicken Provençal

If your weekend ambitions include cooking a festive meal, consider a roasted chicken Provençal. When Sam Sifton wrote about the dish in 2015, he told readers to put the chicken in the oven, pour everyone a drink and be nice — words to live by. And that is exactly what I did, recently, when friends came over for dinner. I cranked the oven to 425 degrees (a tip from the recipe notes) and filled our wine glasses as the chicken sizzled and browned, exuding schmaltz onto shallots and garlic roasting alongside. I served this with crispy potatoes, but wished I had a baguette to scoop up the caramelized chicken-y goo from the bottom of the pan. Happily, a spoon worked nearly as well.


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Before You Go …

Thanks for spending part of your weekend with The Times. — Melissa

Claire Moses, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Tom Wright-Piersanti, Ashley Wu and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at

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