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)

Ingredients:
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

Instructions:
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

Basil Chicken Salad Tartines

Basil Chicken Salad Tartines  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Basil Chicken Salad Tartines | Image: Laura Messersmith

I first tasted a version of this salad when I was living in Cambridge and working near Beacon Hill. Occasionally we’d walk over to a café on Charles Street called Panificio for lunch where their Chicken Tarragon Salad quickly became my favorite menu item. The addition of the grapes; the chopped fresh herbs made it special and elegant – a daring flavor combination to my newly awakening palate.

Since ten dollar salads on the regular weren’t really in the budget at the time I began making tarragon chicken salad for myself at home and even relied on it to impress Mike the first time I cooked for him. I worked all morning carefully slicing the grapes, washing the greens and trying to make everything perfect. We wedged ourselves in at the black and white table – an old counter top from my grandparent’s farmhouse transformed by a thrifty uncle – and began a tradition of connecting over a meal.

It’s been an awesome 8 years since that lunch. Our current kitchen is different, but still tiny, the black and white table is still with us, and I’m still making our favorite chicken salad. This time with a small refresh using basil in place of the tarragon. Why mess too much with a good thing?

Basil Chicken Salad Tartines  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Basil Chicken Salad Tartines | Image: Laura Messersmith

Basil Chicken Salad Tartines (serves 4)

Ingredients:
3 pounds (4 split) bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
Kosher salt
ground black pepper
1/3 cup light mayonnaise
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 cup seedless green grapes
4 slices multigrain bread
2 cups mixed baby greens or spinach

Instructions:
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels and sprinkle both sides generously with salt and black pepper. Place the chicken skin side up on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in the oven for 40-50 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Set the roasted chicken aside to cool.

Meanwhile, finely chop the basil leaves and slice the grapes in half. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, carefully remove the meat from the bones and cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. Place the chicken in a medium mixing bowl; add the mayonnaise, basil and grapes. Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper. Stir to evenly combine.

Toast the slices of bread and top with the greens and the basil chicken salad. Serve immediately.

Adapted and re-written from Ina Garten’s Chicken Salad Veronique inspired by Panificio's Tarragon Chicken Salad.

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Since day one. I used a rimmed baking sheet, medium mixing bowl, medium cutting board, chef’s knife, measuring spoons, and a rubber spatula.

Basil Chicken Salad Tartines  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Basil Chicken Salad Tartines | Image: Laura Messersmith

Basil Chicken Salad Tartines  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Basil Chicken Salad Tartines | Image: Laura Messersmith

Spring Omelet with Asparagus and Peas

Spring Omelet with Asparagus and Peas  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Spring Omelet with Asparagus and Peas | Image: Laura Messersmith

When life picks up its pace and it seems like there isn’t a moment to spare in between packing and unpacking for the next adventure there’s still an important question to answer: what’s for dinner? Lately the answer has been eggs – plain scrambled, fried on avocado toast, and when the planets align to make a trip to the grocery store also this Spring Vegetable Omelet.

Thank the good Lord for a main dish that can be on the table in less than 20 minutes, and still checks all the boxes for fresh, delicious, and healthy. Serve with a slice or two of whole grain – cut into golden toast soldiers if you please – and this could be breakfast, lunch, dinner or any meal in between.

Spring Omelet with Asparagus and Peas  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Spring Omelet with Asparagus and Peas | Image: Laura Messersmith

Spring Omelet with Asparagus and Peas (serves 2)

Ingredients:
8 stalks asparagus
1/2 cup English peas, shelled
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 eggs
3 tablespoons whole milk
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons minced chives
kosher salt
black pepper

Instructions:
Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the asparagus spears into 1/2 inch lengths discarding the tough, woody ends. In a medium oven-safe sauté pan (8 or 10 inches), melt the butter and olive oil together. Add the asparagus and peas and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes until the asparagus is tender. Season with salt and pepper.

While the vegetables cook, whisk together the eggs and milk in a medium bowl, finely mince the chives, and grate the parmesan cheese.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside leaving the remaining butter and olive oil in the pan. Turn off the heat and pour the eggs into the warm pan. Scatter the parmesan cheese and half the minced chives over the eggs along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Spread the asparagus and peas over the top of the eggs and immediately move the pan to the hot oven. Bake for 7-8 minutes until the eggs are firm at the edges, but the center of the omelet remains soft set.

Use a fish spatula to loosen the omelet from the pan and serve immediately with topped with a sprinkle of the reserved chives.

Inspired by Ina Garten’s Country French Omelet and Saveur Magazine’s Brown Butter Peas and Mint Omelette

Small Kitchen Friendly?
You know it. I used a medium oven-safe sauté pan, small mixing bowl, medium cutting board, chef’s knife, microplane grater, and a fish spatula. That’s it!

Spring Omelet with Asparagus and Peas  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Spring Omelet with Asparagus and Peas | Image: Laura Messersmith

Spring Omelet with Asparagus and Peas  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Spring Omelet with Asparagus and Peas | Image: Laura Messersmith

Herb Roasted Cod

Herb Roasted Cod  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Herb Roasted Cod | Image: Laura Messersmith

Each week I follow along with Ina Garten (aka the Barefoot Contessa) and attempt to recreate one of her dishes in my tiny New York City kitchen. The catch? This is my version of cooking school and this week I’m making Herb Roasted Fish for the first time. I’ll share both my successes and “challenges” along the way along with suggestions on how to adapt Ina’s recipe to a small kitchen.

Episode: “Italian at Home”

The Set-up: Ina, Jeffrey and their friends are recreating recipes from a memorable trip to Italy.

The Menu: Herb Roasted Fish, Creamy Parmesan Polenta, Celery and Parmesan Salad, Affogato Sundaes

0:49 – Ina and Jeffrey took a trip to Florence, Italy recently and it seems like he won the ordering game at Cibrèo when he ordered a baked fish. Ina’s making her version at home.

1:30 – The technique is a little different – the Herb Roasted Fish baked in parchment paper which allows the cod and seasonings to steam together as they cook.

2:45 – Wow, this comes together so fast. Once the fish has its own sheet of parchment it’s topped with a few sprigs of thyme, a couple large olives, and a smattering of salt, pepper and olive oil. #howeasyisthat?

3:19 – Now that the fish is prepped – Ina is brushing the edges with egg wash to help seal the packets. It’s like a little craft project.

4:22 – PS: I see Ina doing this on her lovely butcher block cutting boards, but I’d probably just work straight on the baking sheet and save myself some clean up.

5:38 – Dinner is going to be served “al fresco” and the table setting is suitably rustic: a linen-lined bread basket filled with fresh lemons and lemon leaves.

6:01 –The theme is modern square plates, napkins, glasses lined up in a row and Ina is channeling her inner butler; making sure the spacing is just so. She thinks the Italians are so effortlessly stylish, but she is too!

9:33 – On to the Celery and Parmesan Salad. Ina says that Italians use celery more than Americans and I agree – why have I relegated celery to a filler or garnish?

10:40 – Per usual, Ina is making her own dressing but this time it’s a lemon and celery seed vinaigrette, not her traditional mustard-based version.

11:55 – The dressing also involves anchovy paste – another ingredient I have an odd relationship with. When I don’t know it’s there we’re cool, but it kinda weirds me out.

12:14 – One thing about a celery salad is that it probably stays crisp (even when dressed) for quite a long time.

13:29 Over to Barbara and Bobby Liberman who are on the hunt for wine. They’re sticking with Italian vineyards – a red for appetizers and a white for dinner. Success!

14:36 – For appetizers Ina is going rustic and casual – a few salted cashews, marinated olives, and some artisanal potato chips.

15:07 – It really doesn’t get easier than this. Step 1: open package, Step 2: place in silver bowl, Step 3: profit.

18:42 – Jeffrey, Bobby, and Barbara are relaxing in the backyard over the appetizers and reminiscing about their trip while Ina cooks Creamy Parmesan Polenta.

19:35 – Full disclosure: I am horrendous at cooking polenta it regularly comes out too thick and gummy. So, let listen to Ina’s words of polenta wisdom instead - whisk first to prevent lumps, then stir with a wooden spoon over low heat. It sounds so simple!

20:18  – Jeffrey makes an appearance to top off Ina’s glass of wine and gets to help out by putting the Herb Roasted Fish in the oven. He also wins husband points for checking on Ina.

21:00 – Time to finish the polenta by adding the parmesan cheese and plate the Celery and Parmesan Salad with shavings of parmesan, toasted walnuts, and parsley leaves.

22:11 – Dinner is served! Barbara immediately recognizes the fish recipe and exclaims how lovely it is. Well played, Ina.

23:39 – A mutual agreement that no one knows how to ask for wine in Italian, even though Bobby can (allegedly) order a bottle in six languages. That seems like a miss if you ask me, time to take some Italian lessons Mr. Liberman.

27:22 – While her guests wind down from dinner Ina’s working on dessert: Affogato Sundaes, which combine both dessert and coffee by pouring espresso over vanilla and hazelnut ice cream. Sounds like heaven.

28:36 – She’s using a Nespresso machine to brew espresso shots. Some day when we have slightly more counter space…

29:54 – These are insane: coffee liqueur, homemade whipped cream, and chopped chocolate covered espresso beans. I want to do a face-plant into these bowls. Amazing.

Final Thoughts:
What a fun idea to recreate a memorable dinner from a trip with friends.

Trust Ina to make a themed dinner so elegant and effortless with simple ingredients.

I don’t think I ever fully appreciated the power of a silver bowl to make everything feel special and intentional.

Herb Roasted Cod  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Herb Roasted Cod | Image: Laura Messersmith

Lessons Learned:
I’ve wanted to try cooking en papillote - French for "in parchment" - or al cartoccio – since this is an episode about Italian cooking – for a long time and as I watched Ina cook the Herb Roasted Fish I was inspired to finally do it. What’s a bit funny to me is that if you replace the elegant cod with something like trout you’re really just one step removed from campfire cooking.

Fish Selection - It is worth asking your seafood counter helper for thicker, meaty pieces of cod as I find they stand up to the roasting process better. If, you have some variation in size among the filets, then I’d recommend putting the smaller ones on the same sheet pan and staggering their into the oven by a minute or two. That way everything is done at the same time and is perfectly cooked.

Packet Construction – I tried two different ways of sealing the packets – Ina’s empanada style and what I think of as deli style (rolled toward the middle and then tucked under. In both cases without the egg wash to seal them closed they did leak a bit but the results were still excellent.

Seasoning – The cooking process is somewhere between poaching and steaming so it’s important to add plenty of seasoning so that the delicate flavor of the fish is enhanced and the liquid creates a delicious sauce. I made a few changes to Ina's original recipe swapping in butter butter for the olive oil and capers for the olives.

Herb Roasted Cod  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Herb Roasted Cod | Image: Laura Messersmith

Herb Roasted Fish in Parchment Paper (4 servings)

Ingredients:
4 (8 ounce) boneless snapper or cod fillets
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (2-3 lemons) freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 teaspoons (3-4 sprigs) fresh thyme
2 teaspoons drained capers

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Pat the fish dry with paper towels and place each piece on a sheet of parchment paper. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper, then place 1/2 tablespoon of butter under each filet. Drizzle with lemon juice and scatter the thyme leaves and capers over the top. Repeat with the other three pieces of fish evenly dividing the seasonings among the pieces of fish.

Beat the egg together with 1 tablespoon of water for an egg wash. Brush the egg wash around the edge of the parchment paper and fold it in half. Carefully fold the edge of the parchment paper under and around the fish to make a package. Place the package on a sheet pan and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the fish is cooked through. Serve hot in the parchment paper.

Lightly adapted and rewritten from Ina Garten’s Herb Roasted Fish.

Small Kitchen Friendly?
1,000,000%. All I used were 2 rimmed sheet pans, a chef’s knife, small cutting board, measuring spoons (but really you could just estimate, this is a forgiving recipe) and a fish spatula. Parchment paper and paper towels are essential here.

The Verdict:
Lord this is good. Trust Ina to pinpoint a restaurant quality meal that takes so little effort you could almost forget you're cooking. Delicately poached code in its own buttery, lemony, faintly herbal juices while the capers add their own briny punch to the mix. Point 2: it will never cease to be a teat that in the time it takes my rickety little oven to heat up, I can have the entire main course prepped and ready to go.

Herb Roasted Cod  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Herb Roasted Cod | Image: Laura Messersmith