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

Country French Omelet

Country French Omelet  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Country French Omelet | 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 I’m making these recipes for the first time. I’ll share both my successes and um, challenges, along the way and we’ll see if I can keep up with the Contessa!

Episode: “Post Cards from Paris”

The Set-up: Ina and Jeffrey are channeling their trips to Paris via a French-themedstaycation.

The Menu: Country French Omelet, Double Hot Chocolate, Veal Chops with Roquefort Butter, Potato Basil Puree

0:47 – Ina and Jeffrey’s routine when they go to Paris is to drop their bags and go immediately to Café Varenne for the Country French Omelet. Sounds good to me!

1:02 – The recipe starts with sautéing thick-cut bacon (or lardon if you have access).

2:30 – Then the potatoes are cooked in the rendered bacon fat and I’m in heaven already.

3:18 – Ina says she hates making individual omelets, but this one is big enough for two so it works perfectly.

4:21 – Now that the bacon and potatoes are both cooked the egg goes into the pan and the filling is added back in. This seems like a hybrid of an omelet and a frittata, which is perfect in my book – no flipping required!

5:39 – Jeffrey arrives on the scene just as the omelet comes out of the oven and he correctly identifies the inspiration. Good memory! Now to divide the responsibilities on grilling & shopping, neither of which are his strong suit…

6:23 – At least he has a delicious breakfast to fortify himself for the day, and this might be the simplest recipe that involves actual cooking I’ve seen on this show.

9:42 – Moving onto the Potato Basil Puree. Pro Tip #1: involves blanching and shocking the fresh basil will help set the bright green color. Tricky.

10:17 – Now a little trip down memory lane to visit the Bistrot de Paris where potato puree is standard issue with many dishes.

11:29 – Pro Tip #2: Use an electric hand mixer to get really light, fluffy mashed potatoes.

12:03 – Only Ina could mix pale green cream into mashed potatoes and not have the entire bowl look like pea soup.

13:44 – Jeffrey is off to the wine shop to get advice from Jack on what to pair with their dinner. Jack suggests several from the Rhone valley and Jeffrey chooses the one that shares its name with the Marché de Raspail- Ina’s favorite Parisian market. Great job.

14:55 – The main course comes from Ina’s go-to butcher, Guilhien Jean-Bernard on the Rue de Bac, where she often buys veal chops.

18:26 – Ina says this is meant to be a day-off, but how can that be when there’s a camera crew around? Best not to look to hard at the logic.

19:40 – Anyway, she’s out in the backyard grilling the Veal Chops with Roquefort Butter, while Jeffrey tries to redeem his reputation as a bad shopper by picking up a lovely surprise: apple tatin just like the one they have at Café de Flore. He’s so sweet!

20:15 – Pro Tip #3: if making a sauce is too much trouble, use a compound or flavored butter instead and put a piece or two on top of the grilled chops.

21:38 – Ina says she does several different kinds of compound butter, white truffle for a special occasion or mustard butter too.

22:59 – While Ina puts the finishing touches on the veal chops Jeffrey secrets the apple tatin in the pantry until it’s time for the big reveal.

23:12 – Dinner on the terrace as they channel Café de Flore, even more so when Jeffrey brings out dessert. They’re adorable!

26:35 – Switching gears to Ask Ina. Deborah is baking brie in puff pastry, but isn’t sure whether to remove the rind. Ina says the rind is edible, but recommends whole wheel of Camembert rather than a wedge of brie since it’s neater when baked.

27:41 – Andy is having a rough time with his coq au vin, it turns purple! Ina manages to tell him nicely that that’s what it’s supposed to look like thanks to the red wine.

28:24 – Chris is hoping for some recommendations on Parisian food markets. Ina says she loves the Marché de Raspail and La Grande Epicierie in Le Bon Marché department store.

29:50 – Alice is desperate for a recipe that will make hot chocolate like Angelina’s in the Rue de Rivoli. Ina has a suggestion Double Hot Chocolate for how to make it at home. Jeffrey reaps the spoils of the recipe demonstration. Winning!

Final Thoughts:
I love the idea of basing a menu around cafes they’ve visited in Paris, what a great way to relive a trip!

All of these recipes are quite simple, but perfectly highlight the ingredients.

I wonder if the Gartens need a helper on their next trip….?

Country French Omelet   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Country French Omelet | Image: Laura Messersmith

Lessons Learned:
Is it nuts that I’ve never made an omelet? I’m not sure that this Country French Omelet fully counts, but at least I’m on the right track. Here’s what I learned…

Bacon – I’d recommend dicing the bacon a little larger than you’d think, somewhere between 1/3” – 1/2" inch wide across each strip is about right, since it will shrink a bit as it cooks.

Potatoes – Bless Ina for the skins-on note, no peeling required! Just make sure to dice them all about the same size. I’d recommend a small cubes about 1/3” square so that they’ll cook all the way through without burning on the outside. Remember all your sautéing lessons and resist the urge to crowd the pan. For this recipe a medium potato (baseball-ish sized) will fit nicely in a 10” sauté pan.

Cook Time – I made an individual portion with about half the called for potatoes and bacon; using 3 eggs in an 8” stainless steel sauté pan. Because the portion was a bit smaller I started the assembled omelet in the oven for 6 minutes, at about 7 minutes it was 90% set so I took it out assuming that the eggs would continue to cook a little as I snipped the chives. If you like your eggs fully set you’ll likely need to add 1-2 minutes to the overall suggested cooking time.

Omelet Plating – I was convinced that I’d be scraping this omelet out of the pan cursing eggs for being so darn sticky, but amazingly it came right out with very little help from the spatula needed. The combined power of bacon fat, olive oil, and butter I suppose– which PS: makes the bottom of the omelet incredibly delicious.

Country French Omelet   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Country French Omelet | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
1,000% This recipe is perfect for anyone with limited cooking equipment/space. I used an 8” stainless steel sauté pan (use a 10 inch if you’re making the full recipe), a medium cutting board, chef’s knife, small bowl, a table fork, and fish spatula.

The Verdict:
Ina’s Country French Omelet is one of those recipes that’s greater than the sum of it’s parts and elevates all of the ingredients. This is the type of recipe that’s perfect anytime of day – a little toast & jam at breakfast, maybe a small side salad at lunch, add a toasted tartine with Gruyere at dinner and it’s a meal. The fact that the ingredients are so simple that you’re likely to have them on hand at any point means that you’re no more than 25 minutes away from a delicious meal. Just the kind of effort most of us have at this busy time of year. Let all the choirs of angels sing!

Country French Omelet   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Country French Omelet | Image: Laura Messersmith

Roasted Vegetable Soup

Roasted Vegetable Soup  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Roasted Vegetable Soup | 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 I’m making these recipes for the first time. I’ll share both my successes and um, challenges, along the way and we’ll see if I can keep up with the Contessa!

Episode: “Barefoot Classics”

The Set-up: Ina is revisiting some favorite recipes from her years running The Barefoot Contessa specialty food shop.

The Menu: Easy Sticky Buns, Mustard Chicken Salad, Roasted Vegetable Soup

0:53 – A quick overview of the Barefoot Contessa days, and then it’s on to Ina’s new version of the sticky buns they used to make.

1:20 – These are called Easy Sticky Buns and already I can tell that they’re going to be dead simple, no yeast dough required. Instead it’s defrosted puff pastry.

2:34 – Ina says when she first thought of using puff pastry, she was worried that they might not be as good as the original, but now she thinks they’re even better, which is convenient…

3:15 – So far the ingredients have been butter, sugar, pecans and puff pastry so we’re off to a great start.

4:37 – Note to self: make more puff pastry-based items.

5:09 – Buns are assembled and baked which means it’s time to cue Jeffrey to arrive and try to abscond with as many sticky buns as he can. His allotment on camera: one.

6:42 – I’m not sure it’s possible to eat a sticky bun without ending up a little sticky and so far it’s getting the best of Jeffrey.

9:03 – Moving on to the promised Mustard Chicken Salad. Interesting, I didn’t realize that this would actually be a salad, with cherry tomatoes and broccoli

10:46 – Hmm, blanching and shocking are not my favorite techniques – kind of a pain

11:21 – Ina says she like the flavor but not the texture of mayonnaise, so she always thins it a bit with chicken stock or white wine to make more of a sauce.

12:55 – I’ve used Ina’s technique of roasting the chicken for chicken salad before and it’s really really good. Pro Tip #1: Roasting chicken with the bone-in and skin on keeps the meat really moist.

13:59 – She says they used to make “huge vats” of Mustard Chicken Salad – I wonder if she’s having a traumatic flashback.

14:04 – A little tarragon to add another layer of flavor and it’s time to serve! Ina suspects that Jeffrey will remember where this is from…’

18:27 – Ina says they used to make “millions and millions of pounds” of roasted vegetables and that she can’t really think of any vegetable that isn’t better cooked that way.

19:48 – She’s over at the farm stand and decides to get a combination of root vegetables – sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots and a butternut squash.

20:10 – Pro Tip #2: Cut all the vegetables in similar sizes so that they roast at the same rate.

21:29 – It’s comforting to watch Ina wrangle a butternut squash and realize that it’s tricky even for a seasoned professional!

22:36 – She’s roasting the vegetables at quite a high temperature: 425 degrees.

23:01 – Pro Tip #3: If you’re serving the vegetables as is, put them all in big groupings on one platter and season individually. The parnsips get sea salt, carrots get parsley, sweet potato gets a drizzle of maple syrup, and the butternut squash gets fresh pepper.

27:45 – Ina says the key to turning a profit in the specialty food business is knowing how to use the leftovers and in her case she wants them to taste better than the original dish.

28:14 – In this case, she’s turning the left over vegetables into Roasted Vegetable Soup and some extra brioche bread into croutons.

29:53 – The soup is pureed, croutons are toasted and Jeffrey has arrived to have dinner. So cozy!

Final Thoughts:
I’m dying to make the sticky buns, but the contrarian in me wants to fuss with the whole yeast dough process….

Ina’s point about leftovers certainly holds true at home too, and why waste perfectly delicious food?

It just occurred to me, if Jeffrey eats well now imagine the BC days when there was an entire shop full of freshly prepared items.

Roasted Vegetable Soup   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Roasted Vegetable Soup | Image: Laura Messersmith

Lessons Learned:
I’ve roasted vegetables and made soup many times before, but Roasted Vegetable Soup is the ultimate in my book: a pureed soup based on a variety of roasted vegetables sounded amazing. Here’s what I learned.

Vegetable Prep – Time to get familiar with your peeler and chef’s knife! We’ve talked about this before, but this is a great opportunity to practice your knife skills and take care to cut the pieces a consistent size. It will help the outcome of the soup since the recipe calls for roasting different vegetables simultaneously.

Vegetable Roasting Time – Which brings me to my next point. Ina in her infinite wisdom has selected dense vegetables that all roast at the same temperature for the same length of time. Brilliant. As I’ve cooked more and more I’ve internalized the cooking times, but it’s always helpful to have a reference handy – so I put together the chart below.

Flavor Combination – The recipe calls for carrots, butternut squash, parsnips, and sweet potatoes to be roasted and then pureed together. I wondered if in the end it would be too sweet, but actually the flavors blend beautifully and the crisp croutons make a great counter point to the smooth soup. Lovely in its simplicity.

Roasted Vegetable Soup   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Roasted Vegetable Soup | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes. I used a large cutting board, vegetable peeler, chef’s knife and large spoon to prep the vegetables. I also needed two rimmed baking sheets (aluminum foil or parchment paper optional), a spatula, 5.5 qt French oven, and a blender. A food processor, food mill, or stick blender would work just fine too.

The Verdict:
Roasted Vegetable Soup is perfect for late fall. We had it for a weekend lunch served with a green salad and a few pieces of cheddar cheese and crisp apple slices for a hearty and satisfying meal. I went with multigrain croutons for a rustic touch instead of brioche or challah. Either way, this soup is simple, healthful, and easy to whip up a big batch to have on hand or to make use of leftover odds and ends. It’s also a gorgeous color and would make an excellent starter for a more formal Thanksgiving feast.

Roasted Vegetable Soup   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Roasted Vegetable Soup | Image: Laura Messersmith

goldfinch and scout guide to roasting vegetables

Roasted Potato Leek Soup

Roasted Potato Leek Soup   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Roasted Potato Leek Soup | 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 I’m making these recipes for the first time. I’ll share both my successes and um, challenges, along the way and we’ll see if I can keep up with the Contessa!

Episode: “Comfort Classics Close-up”

The Set-up: A magazine article on comfort food has Ina re-examining the classic, while Miguel snaps the photos.

The Menu: Bagels with Smoked Salmon & Whitefish Salad, Potato Leek Soup, Virgin Marys, Herb Garlic Bread

0:22 – Ina’s platter of Bagels with Smoked Salmon & Whitefish Salad is inspired by the appetizing provisions her grandparents used to bring from Brooklyn. She teases them a little, but really Connecticut in the 1950s might not have been the ideal place to find a great bagel.

1:16 – First step, peel and de-bone a whole smoked whitefish and she warns us that actually procuring one might require a little translation.

2:39 – Ina is trying to hard to make this accessible, but really what you need is a good delicatessen – like Barney Greengrass or Russ & Daughters – or a specialty store. Trying to get whitefish at your average fish counter is not likely to result in success.

3:54 – This is a pretty messy job, some seriously hands on work removing the bones and flaking the meat of the smoked whitefish. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had whitefish salad, but it looks really good.

4:31 – Over to Miguel who is setting the scene for the bagel platter with reed mats and simple cutlery.

5:12 – Pro Tip #1: Ina recommends cutting the bagel in thirds – flat on a board, hand on top, watch your fingers! – to get thinner, crispier pieces. Pro Tip #2: Give a bagel platter some height and visual interest by placing the salmon in a herringbone pattern.

6:33 – Whoa, this is some next level trickery. She’s using two whole leaves of radicchio to form bowls for the cream cheese and whitefish salad.

7:25 – A few more layering pieces – slices of lemon, tomato, red onion – and the platter is complete. Wisely, Ina makes Miguel a side plate so he won’t be tempted to devour the platter before the photos are taken!

10:19 – Now we’re moving on to Virgin Marys and I hope you’ll forgive me if I tune out for a moment while she makes these. Cold, spicy tomato juice is one of my least favorite things – not as bad as soggy bread, worse than corn dog.

12:30 – Okay I’m back and whatever took place to make that pitcher of red liquid has been lost to the sands of time.

13:47 – Miguel photographs the set-up of the bagel platter & drinks – now realistically posed thanks to their sips out of the glasses – while Ina moves on to lunch prep.

14:28 – Interesting, the recipe for Potato Leek Soup is essentially a revitalized version of the French soup vichyssoise. Trust the French to transform really rustic ingredients with an uber-elegant name.

15:11 – Ina warns us to wash the leeks really, really carefully since “there’s absolutely no point in making soup if it’s full of sand.” Word.

16:02 – The final step of roasting the vegetables is a handful or two of arugula wilted in at the end. That’s a new one to me…

20:45 – Veggies are out of the oven and now another unique step – the sheet pan goes right on the stove so that Ina can deglaze the browned bits with some white wine.

21:16 – We differ on the texture – Ina prefers something chunky and a little coarse, while I really love a smooth, perfectly blended soup.

22:39 – I’m not sure if vichyssoise traditionally has cream, but Ina is adding both cream and crème fraîche for tang.

23:50 – We check in with Miguel who has assembled a different table setting for the soup – a rustic cheese board is the center piece. I love seeing the choices that another photographer/stylist makes.

24:23 – Ina has made some crispy shallots for a soup garnish and says they take 40-50 minutes to fry. Holy cow.

27:08 – Last up, Herb Garlic Bread. Basil, parsley, garlic all sautéed in olive oil and drizzled into the center of a crunchy baguette. I bet this tastes amazing before it even hits the oven.

28:21 – Finishing touches on the soup, while the bread is in the oven and then everything goes on the table for Miguel to shoot.

29:56 – No side plate of soup this time, so he’ll have to work fast! Wonder if Miguel needs an assistant…?

Final Thoughts:
It’s amazing how the right light and staging really bring out the beauty in food.

Mike would approve of the crispy shallots and flaked shards of parmesan, he loves a textural contrast.

Pretty sure that Potato Leek soup is running in these Irish veins.

Roasted Potato Leek Soup   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Roasted Potato Leek Soup | Image: Laura Messersmith

Lessons Learned:
I decided to make Potato Leek Soup out of curiosity – could Ina take very simple base ingredients and transform them? Short answer: yes. Long answer: here’s what I learned along the way….

Vegetable Prep – the recipe calls for peeled Yukon gold (aka butter) potatoes, but I realized after the fact that it probably isn’t 100% necessary. This is a rustic, textured soup after all, and why waste those vitamins? My blender is more than up to the challenge of a few thin skins, so next time I’ll probably skip that step and just wash them well.

Roasting Vegetables – I managed to resist crowding the vegetables on the pan, a key element in roasting. The potatoes and leeks need space, otherwise they steam and don’t get the browning caramelization that deepens the flavor.

Deglazing a Baking Sheet – My kitchen has a gas stove and I could write a whole post about why I prefer it, but this is just one example: you actually can put a roasting pan or sheet tray on top. If, however, you’re working with an electric or induction stove fear not - just add the white wine and stock to the rimmed sheet while it’s still hot do a little scraping and put it back the oven if you need a little more heat. No stovetop cooking needed.

Flavor & Ingredients – Ina and I rarely disagree, but I wasn’t sure I liked Potato Leek Soup when I first tasted it. The creaminess was a little much and even with the white wine to provide acid it seemed out of balance, until I realized I had left out the parmesan cheese. I nearly didn’t put it in since the flavor was already trending cheesy to my palate, so I did a test with a sprinkle in a small spoonful and amazingly it was so, so much better. A lesson I occasionally have to re-learn: check the ingredients and make sure they’re all in!

Shallots – I also nearly skipped this step, 30 minutes to fry some shallots (!?) In the end though, I was convinced that I should finish all the steps and I’m really glad that I did. Just like that little bit of parmesan, the crisp shallots add a different texture and a new layer of flavor to the soup. Worth the effort, but don’t forget to turn down the heat once your oil is hot or you’ll have singed shallots. Might have burnt the first batch…sorry neighbors!

Roasted Potato Leek Soup   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Roasted Potato Leek Soup | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Probably. I used one rimmed baking sheet, a blender (a food processor or stick blender would work too), a 5.5 qt French oven, small sauce pan, a medium cutting board, chef’s knife, vegetable peeler, microplane grater, a wooden spatula, ladle, measuring cups and spoons.

The Verdict:
This Potato Leek Soup with its starches, cream, and cheese should taste heavy and too rich, but magically it doesn’t. The flavor is deep and satisfying, perfect for a mid-autumn supper or as a starter. Particularly helpful when you’re entertaining since it can be made a few days in advance allowing the ingredients to meld. I made this on a weekend and stashed it in the fridge to deploy for a quick dinner – just add grilled cheese and green salad. Keep this one in your back pocket for this winter when a little simmering feels like a good idea.

Roasted Potato Leek Soup  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Roasted Potato Leek Soup | Image: Laura Messersmith