Friends, I don’t know about you, but 2011 is in no danger of being fondly remembered over laughter and glasses of champagne. There were some big changes in my life and they proved a little difficult to deal with. I rang in the New Year with the flu, and maybe even a few tears. I woke up the following day with a resolve to pick myself up by my bootstraps and get back to the things that bring me joy, or as a friend would say, get back in touch with my roots.
The biggest challenge I have faced during the past few months has been the complete and utter lack of passion in the kitchen. This is not to say that I didn’t want to cook – I did. I tried. I made a hot mess or five. I even made cookies that (gasp!) did not come out like the picture. I was ashamed to bring them into work. At some point I decided that I would stick to sandwiches, fruit, and handfuls of nuts – on really tough days it was Maruchan (oriental flavor). Recently I ventured into soups, which has proved successful in terms of edibility. It’s a word. Look it up. I’ll wait.
Finally, after a commiseration session over morning coffee, one friend voiced that he thought I might be ready to make the next big leap. He suggested that I keep it simple and not follow a recipe. This intimidated me. I needed to mull it over.
The first post I ever made on this blog was a recipe from a family I treasure, so it seems only logical that I re-enter the adventure with the same sentiment. This recipe comes from a very dear friend, and I can’t remember if it was her mom, or her who first cooked it for me, but it was always served with new potatoes from a can, a lemon wedge, and a side of Greek salad (mesclun or spring mix, feta, kalamata olives, olive oil and balsamic vinegar).
Make no mistake, internet. This is supper. Not dinner. There is a difference, nebulous though it might be. The lemon and herbs make your taste buds burst into song and dance. The potatoes barely crunch beneath the pressure of your molars. If you decide to make a salad, it will satisfy your fatuous need to eat healthy in January. And, should you or a friend be needing a nice, firm tug on your own bootstraps, this will surely do the trick. You can also use it to impress someone who, to say the least, makes you want to start shaving your legs again. That’s what I’m doing – it’s called multitasking.
Tingle’s Greek Chicken
serves 4 (or 2, with awesome leftovers)
Note: I used a Kosher chicken, which comes brined. If you can’t find a Kosher bird, I can’t recommend brining enough. Well worth the tiny amount of extra effort and a great way to play with the recipe and make it your own. Ignore the fact that it’s about turkey, focus on the fact that it’s poultry and check out this really nerdy thing.
1 package mixed herbs OR 4 sprigs rosemary, ½ bunch thyme, 7 sprigs oregano
6 cloves of garlic, unpeeled and smashed with something flat
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 fryer chicken (approx. 4 ½ lbs)
4 cans whole new potatoes, drained
salt + pepper to taste
Heat oven to 425˚, place a rack in the center of the oven. Arrange the potatoes in a 9 by 13” glass baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt & pepper.
Finely chop the herbs from 2 sprigs rosemary, 3 sprigs oregano, and 10 sprigs of thyme. Zest one of the lemons. In a small bowl, combine the chopped herbs, lemon zest, and 2 tbsp olive oil. Whisk until combined and set aside. Quarter all the lemons and set aside.
Remove the chicken from the packaging. Rinse it under cold water and pat it dry. Place the chicken on top of the potato bed breast side up. Using your hands, gently separate the breast skin from the meat on the leg end of the chicken. Scoop up some of the olive oil and herb mixture and rub on the breasts and thighs underneath the skin. Repeat until the mixture is gone.
Place the garlic cloves, lemon quarters, and remaining herbs into the cavity of the bird. If you have twine, feel free to tie the drumstick ends together. Or not. It really doesn’t make a huge difference. Gently pat the outside of the chicken dry again. Season the chicken with salt & pepper. Place on the middle oven rack. Roast until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 160˚. My bird weighed about 4.5 lbs and took about an hour and 15 minutes. Take the chicken out of the oven and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Dig in.