Roasted things are just better
During the first semester of my senior year of college I studied abroad in Ireland. To this day lots of people ask me why I chose Ireland when I could have spent my time eating tapas in Madrid or- even better- gelato in Florence. And believe me I had my moments; especially once the rain set in and I would sit huddled in my poky closet of a room lusting after photos of my friends soaking up the Mediterranean climate. Unbeknownst to me I had voluntarily assigned myself to the rainiest spot in Ireland (Galway City) if not entire Continental Europe.
I quickly developed a few coping mechanisms. First I was introduced to the lovely Irish tradition of tea and biscuits at nearly every hour of the day. It was also frigidly cold in the house so in the evenings I’d take my tea upstairs and cuddle under my duvet. (Sometimes I even took my bargain hair dryer to my bed sheets to give them a nice warming up- this advice came directly from my landlady, something that she apparently does on a regular basis). Lastly I liked to cook nice roast dinners for myself and the other ladies in the house. The best nights though were usually Friday nights, when my boyfriend flew in from Germany for the weekend and I pulled out all the stops.
The first thing I made- and I think the best- was a roast chicken. I feel luxurious when I roast chicken. It’s not something I’d make on a Tuesday night but you’re really just tucking everything in one pan and then popping it in the oven for the afternoon and before you know it- amazing roast dinner- otherwise known as Domestic Goddess status. So easy I feel like I’m cheating.
I remember being totally overwhelmed the first time I brought one home from the store in Ireland. It seemed like such an undertaking to roast a whole chicken. Should I truss the bird? Rub it in butter or olive oil? And what about carving? So many questions. Over time I’ve developed my favorite recipe involving lots of garlic, butter and quartered lemons. It’s always delicious and always a showstopper. Trust me, people get very impressed when you pull a lovely roast chicken out of the oven, especially when swaddled in glistening potatoes.
So up until last weekend every time I made roast chicken for dinner I stood by my trusted flavor palate. While perusing one of my favorite blogs, Lottie and Doof, I found something that looked even better- and it is. There’s a little more leg work involved, the chicken needs to sit overnight in the fridge, rubbed down with a paste of garlic, two types of paprika, olive oil and salt and pepper. Yum. Then it’s roasted at super high temperatures over a bed of potato wedges and all those amazing rosy-hued juices get absorbed by the potatoes making a beautiful sauce. One small chicken is enough for two hungry people, if making this for a crowd I’d make two chickens (or more) but regardless of the party make lots of potatoes. You can never have enough potatoes and just saying, we didn’t have any leftovers.
Pimenton Roasted Chicken with Potatoes (Recipe via Lottie and Doof, Adapted from David Tanis for Bon Appetit)
Serves 2 (I adjusted the recipe to suit one chicken instead of two, if making more chickens simply up the quantities)
1 whole chicken (3 1/2-4 pounds) rinsed and dried thoroughly
4 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 T plus 1 t kosher salt
2 T olive oil
1 T smoked paprika
2 t hot smoked Spanish paprika
1 bunch fresh thyme
For the potatoes:
1-2 pounds small yellow potatoes (or Yukon Gold) unpeeled and quartered
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper
To start prepare your paste. Mix your grated garlic (I grated my garlic with a microplane for an ultra-fine consistency) with the salt, olive oil and paprikas. Then rub paste all over the chicken with your hands. Place uncovered in the fridge overnight. Your fridge will smell of garlic (intensely) but don’t worry it’ll be gone the next day!
About an hour before you want to start the roasting process, remove the bird from the fridge and let stand to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit (250 degrees Celsius) In a roasting pan toss your potatoes with the olive oil and salt and pepper. Place the chicken on top of the potatoes and bake for 30 minutes uncovered. The chicken will blacken somewhat so if you want to avoid that (I like a little char) cover loosely with aluminum foil.
After 30 minutes lower the hear to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (220 Celsius). Remove chicken from oven and turn potatoes. Place back in the oven and roast for an additional 20-30 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer reads 165 degrees F or 75 Celsius. Let chicken rest 15 minutes before carving and keep potatoes warm before dusting with fresh parsley and serving.
Now is the time to sit back and enjoy the fruits (?) of your not-so-arduous labor.