Roasted Chicken with Crispy Potatoes
Mmmm. Those crispy potatoes you see in the picture above never made it to a plate, much less a serving dish. Boy, were they good.
What inspired me to try this was an episode of America's Test Kitchen on public television. I've butterflied and roasted a chicken before, but what intrigued me about this recipe was the placing of potatoes under the chicken while it roasted. The test kitchen crew raved about the results, claiming that the potatoes were so popular that the chicken almost became the side dish.
Well, I had to try this. I had about two-and-a-half pounds of red skinned potatoes that I wanted to use up. And I had just purchased an organic chicken (on sale!) at Whole Foods. Chicken is Master Chow's soul food, so I'm always keeping my eyes peeled for good deals.
So, I brined the chicken (using 1 cup of kosher salt to 8 cups of water) first. This helps retain moisture and adds flavor. Do not brine a chicken for more than two to three hours; if you do so, it can lead to chalky meat. Not always, but better safe than sorry. I butterflied it by removing the backbone, then I pushed down on the chicken until it was flat. I prepared an herb butter to put under the skin, lined the bottom of the grill pan with heavy duty foil, and layered in the potatoes with salt, pepper, and left over herbs. Into a 500 F oven, and an hour later . . . voila!
Those potatoes were good. Egads. They were crispy and golden on the outside, but the insides were moist and creamy. As I said, they never made it off the cutting board. I ate about half the potatoes before I begged Master Chow to get in the kitchen and finish them off. I felt like an anaconda that had just eaten its winter food supply. I had to go lie on the couch, belly distended, to recover. And I kept thinking about those potatoes . . . .
- 1 3.5 pound to 4 pound chicken, preferably organic
- 3 Tablespoons softened butter
- 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 quarts (8 cups) water
- 1 cup kosher salt
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 - 2 1/2 pounds of potatoes
Line the bottom of a grill pan with heavy duty foil. Place oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 500 F. Please make sure your oven is immaculately clean before you cook at this high a heat, or you will fill your kitchen with smoke!
Dissolve 1 cup kosher salt in 2 quarts water. Soak chicken (unless it's a kosher bird, then it already has been brined) for 2-3 hours. Remove chicken, rinse off salt, and thoroughly pat dry. Wet skin will not brown well in the oven. In fact, the Test Kitchen crew advises leaving the bird uncovered in the refrigerator for a few hours after brining to assure that the skin is thoroughly dried out.
Preparing the chicken
In a small bowl, smash together the butter, parsely, thyme, garlic, mustard, and lemon juice. Set aside. Remove the backbone from the chicken. Press down on it to flatten it as much as possible. Salt and pepper the bird. Place the chicken on the top part of the grill pan. Gently work the butter mixture under the breast and leg skin.
Prepping the potatoes
Scrub the potatoes clean and pat dry (I used red skinned and one russet). Using the #1 slicing disk (the thinnest one) on a Cuisinart, slice the potatoes. Spread them out in the lined grill pan, add salt and pepper, and any left over herbs.
Place the slotted grill pan with the chicken on top of the potatoes. Place in oven and cook for 45-60 minutes until done (it will depend on your chicken size and your oven). Remove from oven and let chicken rest for about 10 minutes, while you devour the potatoes and burn your fingers. Alternatively, turn the potatoes out onto a plate and peel back the foil to expose the crispy undersides.
Oh, I will have to make these again!