Parisian Roasted Chicken and Tiny Potatoes

Parisian Roast Chicken with Tiny Potatoes  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Parisian Roast Chicken with Tiny Potatoes | Image: Laura Messersmith

I’ve had this page in the Smitten Kitchen cookbook flagged with a post-it note for about 2 years and I am absolutely kicking myself that I just made it this fall for the first time. It has everything to recommend it – simple, short ingredient list; minimal equipment, classic French flavors – and yet I think I was intimidated by the process of spatch-cocking a chicken.

What that means in a nut-shell is removing the backbone so that a whole chicken can be cooked flat; reducing the total cook time. A slightly gruesome project, but one that is over and done with in less than five minutes presuming you have a sharp knife, or set of kitchen shears at your disposal. I recommend using the paper towel to keep the bird from skidding around on the cutting board while you undertake this process. But then it’s over and the more typical seasoning and roasting commence.

I called this chicken “Parisian” because Deb Perelman, the recipe’s author, tells the story of eating a similar dish on a trip to France and it reminded me of an Ina Garten recipe inspired by her own experiences in the City of Light. One bite and it’s clear why this dish makes a lasting impression.

The results are beautifully golden crisp skin – no need for oil or butter to accomplish it, just a few more paper towels for patting dry – juicy meat, and potatoes** that have absorbed all those amazing chicken-y flavors. Since there’s only a small roasting pan to contend with there’s still space for a sheet tray of Brussels sprouts or asparagus in the oven and dinner hits the table in under an hour.

Parisian Roast Chicken with Tiny Potatoes  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Parisian Roast Chicken with Tiny Potatoes | Image: Laura Messersmith

Parisian Roasted Chicken with Tiny Potatoes (serves 4)

2-3 pounds ping-pong sized Yukon gold potatoes, peeled**
3 1/2 - 4 pound whole chicken
2-3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 lemon

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Wash and peel the potatoes, then spread them in the bottom of a small roasting pan.

Place a layer of paper towel on a medium cutting board and prop the chicken up on its base with the back facing you. Use a chef’s knife to cut vertically along each side of the backbone to remove. (Or place the chicken breast side down and remove the backbone with sharp kitchen shears.) Discard the backbone or save for making chicken stock.

Turn the chicken breast side up and press along the breastbone to flatten. Pat the entire chicken dry - inside and out - with paper towels and sprinkle liberally with kosher salt and black pepper.

Drizzle the olive oil over the potatoes and toss together with kosher salt and pepper. Place the chicken on top of the potatoes, breast side up, using the vegetables as a makeshift roasting rack.

Roast the chicken in the hot oven for 45-50 minutes, tossing the potatoes and rotating the chicken halfway through. The chicken is done when an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees F when inserted into the thigh. Allow the chicken to rest for 5-10 minutes.

Place the potatoes on a large serving platter. Then cut the chicken into pieces placing the legs, thighs, breasts and wings over the potatoes. Sprinkle the platter with the thyme leaves and a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve immediately with a simply cooked vegetable like roasted Brussels sprouts.

**Side Note: A note on the photos - I liked the rustic look of leaving the skins on and honestly peeling teeny potatoes is annoying, so I tested leaving the potato skins on and the results are good, but not amazing. Peeling or at least cutting the potatoes in half makes a BIG difference and allows the great chicken-y flavors to permeate, so it’s 100% worth it. If using a larger potato cutting them in small pieces achieves the same results.

Re-written from Deb Perelman’s Flat Roasted Chicken with Tiny Potatoes in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (pg. 173 – 174)

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Absolutely. I used a 9x13 metal roasting pan, a medium cutting board, chef’s knife, a vegetable peeler, and paper towels. That’s it!!

Parisian Roast Chicken with Tiny Potatoes  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Parisian Roast Chicken with Tiny Potatoes | Image: Laura Messersmith

Parisian Roast Chicken with Tiny Potatoes  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Parisian Roast Chicken with Tiny Potatoes | Image: Laura Messersmith

Reading Material: Pre-Thanksgiving Edition

Maddie pup in Central Park, New York, NY  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Maddie pup in Central Park, New York, NY | Image: Laura Messersmith

Thanksgiving is everything that’s best about the holidays – there’s a great dinner, no shopping stress, and plenty of time to nap in front of the fire in between movies and board games. One of my all time favorite memories is of Thanksgiving a few years ago when everyone was home at the same time – a rare occurrence now that my siblings and I are married and/or scattered across the country. There was a giant snowstorm prompting a cabin fever initiated sledding party on the giant hill behind the house, which naturally lead to hot chocolate spiked with ancient booze of unknown provenance from the liquor cabinet. Sabra crème de cacao, even if it’s from a dusty bottle, tastes amazing in homemade cocoa.

The one drawback is city traffic insanity – nothing like sitting at a standstill on the West Side Highway to put a damper on the spirit. So, Mike, Maddie, and I will make the great migration “over the river and through the woods” Tuesday night. Cross your fingers that we make good time! I’m on point to help with dinner and after the wonderful Friendsgiving we attended last weekend I’m thinking very seriously of re-creating the menu. The only thing I’m leaving out from the traditional spread is green bean casserole. It might draw some flak from Mike’s direction but I’m hoping with the Winter Greens Gratin on the table he won’t notice….

Whether you’re a host or a guest, I’ve collected some Thanksgiving-appropriate reading material to help you prepare for your own festivities. Happy Thanksgiving!

Reading Material:
I can only imagine the sorrow of the people who lost loved ones or were touched by the terrorist events in Paris last weekend, so it’s heartening to see Parisians fighting back by holding tight to their cultural touchstones. #tousaubistro (via Eater)

If Thanksgiving had a fairy godmother it would clearly be Ina Garten arriving in a swirl of kosher salt and fresh herbs. Hamptons Magazine has the inside scoop on how she prepares. Or you could watch her Food Network special with Bobby Flay…not that I’ve had it on repeat or anything.

Most of us will be grocery shopping this weekend for the great cooking marathon that is Thanksgiving. Food52 has some advice for surviving what is sure to be a hectic day at the store without forgetting a key ingredient.

We’ve all been there: Thanksgiving morning dawns and the bird is still solid as a rock. What to do!? The Kitchn has some wisdom on how to handle frozen turkeys.

Are you spending time with family over the holidays? Probably a good moment to brush up on back issues of Dad Magazine so you’re prepared for the dinner table conversation. Applicable to uncles and fathers-in-law. (via The Toast)

A brief pause during this most American of holidays for another piece from Eater on the Great British Bake Off. I am seriously Jonesing for more GBBO and it is killing me that PBS only has 1.5 seasons. Cruel!