Thursday, September 8, 2011

Recipe Box: Roast chicken and potatoes

There was a distinct chill in the air yesterday morning. As I sat on the back steps drinking my first coffee, lamenting over the rain, the hearty aroma of roast chicken suddenly entered my consciousness. Hadn't I been saving the perfect roasting bird in the freezer for such a day? Why yes, yes I had.

This recipe, guaranteed to make you the most popular person EVER at home, is one I watched three generations of my family create a thousand times while I was growing up. Roast chicken and potatoes are dreary weather staples where I come from. Succulent, juicy meat and crispy, herb-infused skin, roast chicken is a veritable smorgasbord of gastronomic potential. Lord have mercy on my waistline ...

Anyway, let's get down to it shall we?

You will need:

- One whole chicken 
- Quarter cup of butter, softened
- Six cloves of garlic, minced as finely as you can
- Quarter cup of fresh tarragon, finely chopped (substitute for parsley if need be)
- One whole lemon, chop in half and squeeze around a tablespoon of juice to use for the mixture
- Three tablespoons of brown sugar
- One tablespoon of smoked paprika 
- Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Wash your bird and pat it dry with kitchen towel. Combine the butter, garlic, tarragon, brown sugar, paprika, salt, pepper and lemon juice in a bowl for a good stir. Now, it's time to roughhouse that chicken. Slather and slap the mixture all over until your heart is content ... remember to get under the skin too, you'll thank me. Once you're satisfied, pop the lemon halves inside the cavity. Bake in the oven for the time specified on the packaging. 

Now for the potatoes. Mmm potatoes, how I love thee. Encased in your perfectly formed crunchy shells yet your interior ...  so fluffy! So delicious! Truly the best comfort food in the world. In my opinion, this is exactly how roast potatoes should look; small, crunchy with a few remnants of salt and rosemary. Simple.

You will need:

- Good roasting potatoes, peeled, washed and cut into halves (or quartered if the potatoes are large)
- If you can get beef dripping (my family are Irish so we live on the stuff), I swear you'll be so happy with the result you'll want to come kiss my toes. If not, olive oil will suffice.
- A handful of fresh rosemary sprigs
- Salt and pepper

Heat your beef dripping or olive oil in the oven (whack the temperature on high). This should cover the bottom of the pan by around half an inch. Cover the potatoes in a pan of cold water and par-boil. You don't want the them to become too soggy but you should be able to prick them with a knife and feel that they have softened a little. Drain and place each potato into the hot dripping (or oil) giving them a good coating on all sides. Season with salt, pepper and rosemary and off you go. When the potatoes start to look like the gloriousness of the picture above, you know they're done. 

Serve the chicken and potatoes with steamed vegetables and enjoy. Good? Thank my great grandmother ...

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