Sunday, October 19, 2008

Dinner tonight... "Perfect" Roast Chicken, Buttered Mashed Potatoes and Asparagus

Mr. Fritz and I had a perfect fall afternoon. We walked down to Roosevelt Island to see the changing colors of the trees, then walked over to Georgetown before heading back home. The air outside was crisp, the sky was blue, and the whole tenor of the day spoke to the reality that fall has finally arrived. So, I thought I'd aim to make the perfect fall meal: Roast Chicken with Buttered Mashed Potatoes. I got this recipe from Jamie Oliver (a.k.a. The Naked Chef) back in 2000. He shared it in response to a request for a meal that any twentysomething could make. I can barely remember my twenties at this point, but I will never forget how easy this recipe is to make. It's been ever-helpful over the years whenever I've wanted to serve up excellent comfort food.

There are a couple of secrets to its success: first, he uses fresh herbs tucked underneath the skin of the chicken. I used a mix of rosemary, thyme and sage. (Mr. Fritz said, "what, no parsley?" when I made this for him the first time a couple of weeks ago.) The herbs, plus a little olive oil an salt and pepper conspire together to give the chicken a great flavor. He (Jamie, not Mr. Fritz) suggests stuffing the chicken with lemons and rosemary. He says to let the roasting pan heat up in the oven before you place the trussed chicken on it. And, he instructs that the chicken be roasted in each side for five minutes at first before putting it on its back for the duration of the roasting process. The most difficult thing about this recipe is just preparing the chicken for the oven, and even that shouldn't take longer than 10 or so minutes.

The mashed potato recipe he shared is also incredibly easy. I didn't bother to peel the potatoes. I li
ke keeping the skins on them. And I didn't feel like dirtying my mixer, so I mashed them (somewhat awkwardly) with a pastry cutter. The surprise ingredient in Jamie's mashed potatoes is nutmeg. A dash gives the potatoes just the right flavor. (Well that, and the copious amount of milk and butter you also add...)

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