Friday, September 9, 2011

A winning chicken dinner.

I love roasting a chicken for dinner. Yes, it is usually a weekend activity, but unless you have a small army to feed one roast chicken will provide several meals in the coming week. Jared and I will usually save the breasts and then slice some and shred the rest to be used in sandwiches, quesadillas, pasta, salads.... You can really stretch one bird with a little creative thinking.

I've been roasting chickens about as long as I have been cooking, thanks in no small part to Ina Garten's enthusiasm for this simple preparation. In that time, I have tried many recipes and really it is hard to go wrong if you watch the temperature at the end and follow the directions. When I found this recipe over the winter, however, it quickly became my very favorite take on this classic dish.

Crisp skin, juicy chicken, fragrant rosemary, and crispy potatoes. A wonderful and comforting meal to end the week. Throw in a pan of rustic roasted carrots and you've got a complete meal.

The potato preparation is completely novel to me and I love it. You boil the potatoes first, then jostle them about in the pan to "fluff" up their exterior. In the process, it feels very wrong, like they will all break apart leaving you with a mess. But in the oven, all of that potato fluff coating crisps up creating the most delicious potatoes. Save a few for breakfast the next day, if you can, as they are fantastic with a fried egg.

Crisp-Skinned Chicken with Crispy Rosemary Potatoes
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, January 2011

Serves 4, or 2 with plenty of leftovers

6 russet potatoes, peeled and cut crosswise, 3/4 inch thick
Coarse salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 whole chicken, about 4 1/2 pounds (be sure to remove anything from the cavity, like giblets)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 small bunch fresh rosemary

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender, 11 to 13 minutes, checking that a knife slides in and out without resistance. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Shake the potatoes over low heat to dry and fluff their exteriors. Don't shake so hard to break them up, but get a nice even coat of fluff. Remove from heat, coat with oil, and season with salt.

2. Mix together 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt and the cornstarch. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Rub skin with butter, coating the skin evenly. Sprinkle the salt mixture over the bird evenly and stuff a few sprigs of rosemary into cavity. Pile remaining rosemary in the middle of a rimmed baking sheet covered in parchment.

3. Place chicken on the rosemary, breast side up, tucking the wings under. Truss the legs with kitchen twine. Scatter the potatoes around chicken. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, and carefully flip the potatoes. Return to the oven, rotating sheet. Roast until chicken juices run clear and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh reaches 165 degrees, about 30 minutes more. Let chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving. If potatoes aren't golden all over, toss them with the rosemary, and return to oven for a few minutes until they are crisp on all sides.

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