I want to take this moment to thank dear Ferran Adrià for making the most inspiring cookbook I have ever owned. I am now the proud, very fortunate owner of The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adrià. If you are not familiar with this title, you really should get acquainted. It is the collection of recipes that the staff at El Bulli shared before every shift at that amazing restaurant. The book really showcases the mantra that in order to make great food you must eat well too. El Bulli set the bar, so of course they were no exception.
My first endeavor into this book was to start creating stocks and sauces. The wonderful thing about the construction of this book is the attention to kitchen waste, and how it should be minimal. That is really one of my goals as a financially and environmentally conscious cook. I want to make good food and get the most out of the ingredients that I am fortunate enough to buy. Thus, I was able to roast a chicken, make a sauce from the drippings, and use the leftover "nasty bits" (great book by Anthony Bourdain as well), to make a delicious chicken stock. I was so excited I was beaming with joy.
If you are entertaining, a roasted chicken is quite possibly the simplest and most gratifying meal you could prepare. It is beautiful, it makes the house smell like you're a professional chef, the leftovers are great, and you can make chicken stock with it later! YES! I chose to pair it with roasted onion and potatoes, but it would be just as lovely with a salad or a risotto on the side.
In my humble opinion, this is the first meal that any cook worth their salt should know how to make.
(adapted from The Family Meal)
Roasted Potatoes and an Onion Magnolia
1 Whole chicken
2 Cloves garlic, crushed skin-on
2 Bay leaves
4 Yukon gold potatoes, cubed
1 Large red onion
This chicken recipe yielded the most succulent and moist chicken of my entire life. The leftovers also saved well and retained their full flavor, making for awesome chicken sandwiches and salad.
Start by washing and drying the chicken inside and out, remove any feathers and cut off the parson's nose. Preheat the oven to 425º and take out a roasting pan.
Season the bird inside and out with salt (not too heavy, just seasoned) and rub with olive oil. This will help the skin crisp up and really let out its flavor. Then zest the entire lemon and rub the zest all over the outside of the chicken. Cut up the lemon and push it inside the cavity with the garlic.
With a mortar and pestle or a spice mill blend up a combination of rosemary, thyme, and black pepper, and salt if you are using the mortar because it aids in pulverizing the spices. You can also add the bay leaf, as suggested by Adrià, but I just put the bay leaf in the cavity and the result was perfect to me. Take the spices and rub them all over the outside of the bird, bottom and top.
Place the chicken in the roasting pan breast facing down and roast for 25 minutes. After that time, flip the chicken breast facing up and roast for the remaining 35 minutes. Remove the chicken and allow to rest. You can make a sauce out of the drippings with white wine and water, scraping up the cooked on bits and reducing them. Alternatively, you can baste the potatoes and onions in the pan drippings.
Roasted potatoes are a piece of cake, but this onion magnolia really stole the show. It's funny because it was inspired by my former employment at a certain steakhouse that serves a fried onion flower, which packs a whole 2,500 calories if you eat the whole thing by yourself (not including the sauce). It is a beautiful presentation and lovely to share, but my approach is not actually going to kill you in the long run... and I think it's even prettier ;)
Simply cube the potatoes in uniform pieces. You can choose to keep the skin on or off, especially if you choose to use red potatoes, which are perfectly acceptable for this dish. Season with salt, pepper, and chili powder and toss in olive oil until everything looks like it's got its fair share.
As for the onion, cut off the bottom just enough for it to stand but not separate its petals. Then cut off the top so you have a flat plane to slice into. Take your knife and score a cross-hatch patter until you are about 1/2"-1" from the bottom of the onion. When the onion bakes in the oven, it will soften and the scoring will allow the "petals" to bloom. The center of the red onion is pretty sturdy, so it stood up, allowing the outside petals to fall away, allowing it to look more like a magnolia than a chrysanthemum to me...hence the name :)
Brush the same olive oil and spice mixture on the onion as the potatoes and get some of the oil inside the onion if you can manage--it will redistribute in the oven. I arranged the potatoes around the onion in the center of a shallow casserole dish. I baked the potatoes and onion on a rack below the roasting chicken. First I put the chicken in, and then after that I prepared the potatoes and onion and put it in the oven until the chicken was completely done. Probably 45 minutes in all.
I took the chicken out to rest and the potatoes we allowed to cook for another 10 minutes to crisp up. At that point I took some of the drippings from the chicken and poured it over the potatoes and onion. What a good idea!
|One of the most naturally beautiful things I have ever eaten.|
Up next? How to make chicken stock for the rest of winter! Also...following up on my New Year's goal of making more Japanese food :)