There are countless ways to cook a chicken. Some preparations are boring and plain, some are complex and interesting, others still are homey and comforting. It's always good to have the last kind in your cooking arsenal: an 'old reliable' that gets the job done every time, whether it's making an easy meal for yourself with limited time and budget, or cooking a tasty and uncomplicated meal for friends or family.
In the name of having a simple, reliable method for cooking a roast chicken -- and sides as well -- I've developed a really simple update on roast chicken with potatoes and a green veggie. Here's the idea:
- For one chicken, mix together a few tablespoons of whole grain mustard with a few tablespoons of good quality olive oil.
-Add some chopped fresh herbs. For this version I used chives and a little rosemary, just a tablespoon or two.
- Add the zest and juice of a citrus fruit (here I actually used kaffir lime, which adds a dimension of flavor and complexity to the dish. These limes can be hard to find. Lemon is fine. Something more interesting -- blood orange, meyer lemon, etc. -- is even better).
- Add a shake of salt and pepper, and mix. This becomes your FLAVOR PASTE for the chicken.
- Once the chicken is rinsed and dried thoroughly, spread the flavor paste over the skin of the bird and under the skin, in the pockets between the breasts and the outer skin. Leave a little to spread on later when you turn the bird.
- Clean and dice a couple of potatoes, and toss in a little olive oil and salt.
- Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil. Spread the potatoes in a layer on the pan. Place the chicken, breast side down, on top of the potatoes.
- Roast in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. In the meantime, bring a pot of water to a boil, generously salt the water, and cook your green veg for a couple of minutes until it's just barely tender. Remove from the pot and place immediately in ice water to stop the cooking.
- After 20 minutes, pull the tray out of the oven and turn the chicken over, so it's breast side up. Spread a little more of the flavor paste on the top of the chicken. Toss the potatoes in the pan juices. Add the green veg (here I've used broccoletti) to the pan as well, with a sprinkling of salt. Turn the oven up to 375 and return pan to oven for 20 minutes or so, until the top of the chicken is nicely browned and the potatoes are golden and cooked through.
- Carve and enjoy!