Crying Mayday? Mix it Up: Roasty Chicken with Toasty Garlic Potatoes

Plated DinnerAdmittedly, at present, in my underemployed state, I’ve got the luxury of time to ponder these things. But, before you discount me as a resource, consider how richly my excess of times can benefit your lack of time. Let’s work together. As my friend (a middle school science teacher) says, “Team work doesn’t seem work!” Et voilà, mes amis. My idleness (hardly!) brings you veritable mountains of ideas, and better yet, higher learning.

Henceforth, I declare the month of May MIX AND MATCH MONTH. Whoop whoop! Every week during this month, I’ll bring you a few new recipes, ideas, hints, and guidance to bring you versatility, taste, color, and good health on your dinner plate each night. This theme will be based around the traditional three-piece meal, i.e. a protein, a vegetable, and a starch. As your diet, and preferences, allow, feel free to mix it up to your heart’s content. Though, the grandma that lives on my right shoulder (there’s a six year-old me on my other shoulder offering Tootsie Rolls) cautions that it is important to consume a variety of nutrients in your daily diet, so try not to go too heavy on any one category.

I hear the sweet-tooth contingent crying out in protest. Okay! So I will tack on a week of desserts, too. As a savory food lover, in a house where a dessert course rarely makes an appearance, I’m far more likely to reach for the potato chip than the cheesecake, but my love for the salty does sympathize with your need for the sweet. By the end of May, you will have an arsenal of stand-bys at the ready, and will be able to construct yourself (and your family, if you’ve got one to feed) a satisfying, delicious dinner every night of the week, with a cherry on top.

Here begins Week One: The Protein, aka The Main Act. This recipe is a standby of mine that I adopted, rehearsed, translated, and rearranged from the eminent and loyal cooking reference The Joy of Cooking. I roast this bird one night, and it becomes enchiladas, chicken salad, and soup for the remainder of the week, and then some. In its simplest form, it only has four ingredients. But, we are free to expand from there! Because we love ingredients! And we have no fear! Things that bring out the best in chicken: thyme, rosemary, lemon, garlic, cinnamon, celery, parsley, sage, and paprika. That’s not all, but it’s a good start.

My usual preparation comes with a bed of roasted potatoes, so that’s what I’ve put in the basic recipe. Plus, it’s a freebie! Auto-starch! No need to cook a separate side-dish. The chicken’s own juices and seasonings do all the work for you, so you end up with a crispy-roasted succulent chicken, and flavorful, crackling brown potatoes. I recently tried to mix things up by cutting up a daikon (Asian radish) into wide matchsticks and mixing them in with the potato bed, along with some fresh rosemary and thyme from my garden. The daikon added a nice, crispy note to the mix, and the herbs filled my apartment with an almost unbearably divine aroma. I recommend trying out different things! Start simple, and expand as you feel more adventurous. (Some suggestions follow the recipe.)

A few notes before you begin.

First, you will need a roasting pan, preferably one with a V-shaped rack, since the chicken roasts on each side before being turned breast-side up. (This method keeps the meat nice and moist. A chicken roasted breast-side up for the duration often cooks unevenly, and the breast meat gets dry, which is just a darn shame when you know how very succulent and good roast chicken breast can be.) However, if you do not have the rack, or just have a flat rack, you can improvise with wads of foil.

Second, I almost always use kosher salt for cooking (and fine sea salt for baking), and here’s why. Your regular, average table salt has some odd additives in it to make it “flow”, and has a harsh flavor, VERY salty, without any subtlety. Kosher salt is inexpensive (look in the Kosher section of your market, if it’s not shelved near all the other salt), and gives you more leeway with your seasoning, and more depth of flavor. If you do not have kosher salt or don’t want it, you can use conventional salt, but be careful not to overdo it. A little goes a long way. (Here is a salt-centric video, if you care for a lot of detail.)

Finally, when you’ve extracted your heavenly roast chicken from the oven and want to dig in, you’ll need to know how to carve it so you can get the most out of it! I always make DG do the carving because it’s not my forte. How did he learn to carve so well, you ask? Here’s the secret: The New York Times ‘Carving a Thanksgiving Turkey’ video. It’s just like a chicken, only bigger. Find yourself a carving fork (or the biggest fork-like object you have – maybe among your grilling tools?) and a nice, long, sharp knife, watch the video, and the bird will submit to your will.

Last but not least, here in Can Do Kitchen, t=teaspoon, T=tablespoon, and c=cup. Always.

Equipment:

roasting pan with V-shaped rack (or flat rack and/or aluminum foil balls)

pastry brush (optional)

instant-read thermometer (optional)

7 Comments

  1. Deirdre says:

    Cool. I am going to enjoy following this blog. I was honored to be mentioned in it. I will have to get some chickens soon. One chicken only feeds us for one meal so I will be trying to get two on my V- shaped roaster because I am all about leftovers. My Samuel will be sure to marrying a lady who never serves leftovers. He is “over” them. I am looking forward to trying your method. Some of your info I already knew (clear juices for one), but the chicken flipping business I haven’t heard of. It makes a lot of sense. Also I will be getting me some kosher salt.

    I enjoyed the blog because it seems like a kindred spirit is writing. We might disagree about some things and lead different daily lives, but we seem to see food in a similar light. Not only do people not cook anymore they don’t seem to have any clue how to do it. Yes, despite cooking shows. The art seems to have not been passed onto so many people in our generation.

    My fav comment was about eating through a moose. I usually use the “I butchered a moose” claim for the “2 Truths and a Lie” game. Next time I will change it to an elk so I can use it for my lie!

  2. Deirdre says:

    Oh, yeah. I forgot to mention that I find that many people do appreciate and recognize good food, despite them often not producing it themselves perhaps. People often gravitate towards what I bring. I am not a super wonderful cook. However I make what I like and always bake with butter and that brings on good reviews! Cookbooks are about the only thing I check out of the library for myself. I can browse them in tiny tidbits and I learn a lot about food and cooking. I am looking forward to the next post!

  3. martha chase says:

    Well, is this the daughter of the famous moose cook?? We did eat other things…especially after the two years of the moose. We are cooks that like to cook..keeping the menu as close to the garden or the natural habitat. We ate alot of deer meat and partridge (ruffed grouse), brook trout from the stream that ran through our property, chicken and a beef steak or hamburger.. big treat…Daughter, do you have the terriyaki receipe for the moose kabobs?? I still have it. It is good on other meats too. Let’s have deer steak, mashed potatoes and cream corn tonight in memory of Umbagog.

  4. Audrey says:

    Thanks for the comment! I do have that teriyaki recipe! I’ve made some changes to it over time and will probably post it up here soon. Unfortunately I don’t have any venison, but will definitely raise a glass to wonderful memories of Umbagog tonight.

  5. Stephanie M says:

    Congratulations on the birth of your new “baby”, Audrey! And what a perfect first offering… the roast chicken, wonderfully versatile and lovely on a platter surrounded by your taters, but just the beginning then of a week of lovely left-overs (or reincarnations!)

    I’d like to see you do an entry on a battery of herbs, spices, bottled sauces, etc. that you keep on hand that can transform a happy Portland chicken into simple food sensations from around the world. You’ve been out there, share with us eager eaters.

    Come fall you will have your succulent venison if you want it : ) !

  6. Rebecca says:

    Ransom and I just made this last weekend. The chicken turned out great! Although the potatoes kind of stole the show–they were so buttery and delicious! We served it all up with some chard sauteed with garlic. Yum!

    Next time, there are three things I’ll do differently:
    1) Play around with your “get fancy” ideas
    2) When I turn the chicken, I will not panic and hold my breath and try to do everything as quickly as possible, but will calmly remove it from the oven so all the heat doesn’t escape. It’s really hard to do fast, especially if you’ve never done it before and your glasses are all fogged up from the oven steam and your rack makes it hard to move potatoes around. (Meaning the rack the chicken was on, not my gigantic bosom.)
    3) This is probably not as necessary if I follow step 2, but the second time I flipped the bird, I ground the pepper ahead of time, which helped me get it back in the oven faster.

    Thanks for the recipe! Our chicken turned out so wonderfully browned and crispy, it’s fantastic!

  7. Audrey says:

    glad you were successful, rebecca! it’s true that the potatoes are sublime. thanks for tipping me off about chicken-turning instructions. i did not say in the recipe to take it OUT of the oven to turn it, which is what i always do, and does cut down on the stress. sorry that was missing. i’m going to add it in now!

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