Monday, September 16, 2013

A slightly oddball roast chicken


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I’m not much of a roast chicken person anymore. I roasted a chicken once a week for many years and then I just quit. It's an easy meal and everyone in our house eats it, but the others are just as happy with grilled cheese sandwiches and I’m happier. Zuni, Bouchon, beer can -- nothing moves the needle. I seem to be over roast chicken. I don’t expect anyone to share my feelings. 

But Edward Lee’s potato-stuffed roast chicken from Smoke and Pickles looked novel and beautiful and I had to try it. I'm glad I did. Unlike a lot of his other recipes, this one is simple and you can buy the few ingredients at any supermarket. The results are lovely.

Here's the story: You peel and grate an 11-ounce Yukon Gold potato (or any waxy potato) then wring out the extra liquid as for potato pancakes. Season the shreds with salt and pepper and saute in butter for "exactly 2 minutes, no longer." Cool. Gently separate the skin from the chicken’s breast and slip the potatoes between skin and meat, spreading them evenly over the meat. When you're done, rub oil all over the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Sear the breast quickly in a very hot cast-iron skillet, flip the chicken over, place the skillet in the oven, and roast at 400 degrees F for about an hour. 

The idea is that the layer of buttery potatoes will keep the breast moist while the fat from the chicken skin flavors and further enriches the potatoes. The whole thing works exactly as advertised.

Let's start with the potatoes. Dangerously good. They melted into a rich, luxurious substance that resembled very soft, very flavorful hash browns. The only problem was that we each got about a tablespoon and wanted more. Could you stuff more potato shreds under the chicken skin and end up with more of these incredible hash browns? Lee doesn't say. I bet you could add half again more potato without messing up the recipe or damaging your health, but won't swear by it. 

The chicken itself: tasty and moist. But I just can't get excited about roast chicken. If you want rhapsodies, folks really, really adore the chicken over at Chowhound

22 comments:

  1. That is oddball, and I am with you, I would not roast a chicken to get the potatoes. Maybe you could do the potatoes with the chicken fat you get when you make broth? I'll have to look into that, because those potatoes sound very good. Now I am wondering what else I can stick under the skin of a chicken while roasting.

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    Replies
    1. herbs, butter. I've read about putting pate under the skin.

      Delete
  2. I respect that you're over roast chicken. I can't imagine getting there, but I believe it can happen. Please indulge me while I throw out two ideas. First, for chicken with yummy stuffing under the skin, there's Margaret Fox's variation on Richard Olney's classic "Chicken Stuffed Under the Skin" in the Cafe Beaujolais cookbook (a now somewhat ignored but still reliable classic cookbook). Second, consider Peggy Knickerbocker's "Alice B. Toklas Chicken" from her Simple Soirees cookbook. I heard her interviewed once and she claimed the recipe was the perfect tool for seduction and she was right. It's roasted with orange juice and port, which I know sounds so weird, but it is insanely delicious--one of those alchemical recipes.

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    Replies
    1. Ok, I will add these to the list. I have a copy of Cafe Beaujolais and I will look up Simple Soirees.
      I'm always eager to try new things.

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  3. A few thoughts:

    I love Costco roast chickens - they're $4.99 and taste better than Whole Foods ($17) and probably better than most (all?) of the chickens I've roasted at home. My cat loves them, too. And the leftovers make great chicken stock.

    The best thing about Zuni roast chicken is the bread salad.

    Are you no longer posting over on Chowhound?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think I've ever posted on Chowhound. I probably should. Maybe I will.
      I agree about the Zuni bread salad. I haven't been there in years, but I used to order the chicken just for the bread salad.
      I don't belong to Costco, but I've heard other positive reports about their roast chickens.

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  4. The next time can you give us some recipe that using pressure cooker ? . I bought a new one but lacking the ideas to use it :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But I don't have a pressure cooker! I've never even seen one.

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    2. Tabatha, you can find some pressure cooker recipes at sites like allrecipes.com.

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    3. a cooker will help you so much! you should buy one!

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  5. Maybe you should buy some boneless, skin-on breasts (often referred to as airline breasts) and stuff your potatoes under the skin of each breast, then pan-roast them, skin side down, followed by skin side up (maybe finish in the oven?) Each person will have the same amount of potato, and since you wanted to up the amount of stuffing, maybe 8 oz. potato per breast?

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    Replies
    1. That's an idea, a really good idea.

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    2. I used to do chicken breasts that way with preserved lemon, bread and garlic stuffing. I like the idea of the potato stuffing! I really should sit down with Smoke and Pickles and try a few recipes. None of his desserts appealed to me at first glance. Anyway, the chicken breast solution also relieves you of the chore of roasting a chicken ;)

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  6. Thank you for the article quite interesting, maybe I'll try it your way someday in the future. Wish you have a happy life with interesting dishes.

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