Happy birthday Neil Sedaka! It might just be me, but Neil Sedaka is one of those names that is instantly familiar and you know what they did (do; he turns 83 today) but you can no longer quite put your finger on what exactly…
Sedaka is of Lebanese descent, which I never knew. Just like Danny Thomas! He grew up in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, the borough of so much phenomenal musical talent, and right out of high school went to work in the Brill Building with his pal Howard Greenfield. At the time the Brill Building is where the “hitmakers,” working for various recording studios and production companies, churned out untold numbers of songs, mostly for others to perform. Among the people Neil might have squeezed into an elevator with were Carole King, Paul Anka, and Bobby Darin. Sedaka went on to write over 500 songs for himself and others. One of his employer’s biggest clients was Connie Francis.
Pretty early on Neil became a (lesser) teen idol himself, then really shot to stardom in the 1970s. The linked YouTube video will provide you with many an earworm, so be forewarned.
In the late ’70s Sedaka fell prey to the syndicated newspaper celebrity recipe shakedown. He only paid lip service though, and he and his wife Leba, during an interview, supplied a recipe from their housekeeper, which supposedly is/was one of Neil’s favorites. I admire Sedaka for this, because as a sometimes uncredited songwriter he probably felt keenly the need to assign credit where credit was due. This falls under the purlieu of “intellectual copyright.”
Neil Sedaka’s Chicken
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 roaster chicken, in eighths (skin on or off, your choice)
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 Tbsp. prepared mustard
4 Tbsp. ketchup
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Spread half of the onion in a layer on the bottom of a roasting pan and arrange chicken skin-side up (even if you have removed the skin) on top. Add remaining onion on top of the chicken.
Sprinkle with vinegar and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Mix garlic, mustard, and ketchup together and brush over chicken and onions.
Bake for an hour and a half, turning once, until chicken is cooked through. Serve hot, room temperature, or cold straight from the fridge.