And so we have taken another spin around the year and arrived here at All Hallows’ Eve. The last day of October. The day before the day before they turn out the lights. Well, that’s how it seems anyway. It’s as if the final curtain on my favorite season (summer!) will come crashing down cartoon fashion on Sunday. I’ll grant you that summer is long gone and for those who, like me, are in deep denial, it has been subtly sneaking away with each passing day for weeks. Okay, so maybe I do have SAD. (What would we do without a label for everything?) I need to find my smart wool socks and have a little chat with myself to buck up.
But there’s an up side to this shift. Namely, roast chicken. Actually roasted anything. One-pot meals. Stews. Belly-filling platefuls of potatoes, polenta, chicken pie. Bolognese on spaghetti. Baked apples. Oatmeal for breakfast. Oh ye Californians, you can’t begin to fathom what the deep, dark days of winter hold. I suppose it builds character.
So here’s something for you Northerners. Roast chicken that is also braised. Brown the chicken pieces in a skillet to give them a golden crisp crust, then put them over potatoes (or fennel, or root vegetables of your choice.) With the help of a little lemon juice, wine, and stock you have a one-dish meal with a tasty sauce. Oven suppers are back.
Roast thighs and breasts in separate dishes so each cooks just to the point of doneness.
Roast chicken with lemon, herbs, and potatoes
6 chicken thighs on the bone (2 3/4 pounds)
4 chicken breast halves on the bone (2 3/4 pounds)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 lemons, each cut into 4 wedges
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 pounds fingerling or other small potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, for garnish
1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Have on hand two large (9-by-13-inch) baking dishes.
2. With kitchen shears, trim excess skin and fat from the chicken thighs. Halve the chicken breasts crosswise. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the skin is golden and crisp. Turn and cook for 1 minute more. Transfer to a plate.
4. Pour off all but a thin layer of fat from the skillet. Add the lemon wedges, and cook, turning, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove and set aside.
5. Add the wine to the pan and stir to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom. Add the potatoes, stock, and rosemary. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, and cover the pan. Simmer for 7 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to soften. Squeeze the juice from 4 of the lemon wedges into the pan and stir to distribute.
6. Divide the potatoes and sauce between the 2 baking dishes. With skin sides up, place the chicken thighs on top of the potatoes in one pan, and the breasts in the second pan. Roast the thighs for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh registers 165 degrees. Roast the breasts for 25 to 35 minutes, or until a thermometer registers 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of a breast.
7. Spoon some potatoes and sauce on each plate. Top with chicken. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and garnish with reserved lemon wedges.