475 Degrees Roast Chicken, w Mashed Potatoes, Spinach and Scotch

“Come now, gentleman, your love is all I crave.
                    You’ll still be in the circus when I’m laughing, laughing on my grave”

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This is a very cool, very quick, and very photogenic way to roast a chicken. It helps if you have an oven that can reach 475 degrees (450 will do) and a copy of“Memo From Turner”, sung by Mick Jagger. Make sure it’s the version on the “Performance” soundtrack, and not the one from the 1975 “Metamorphosis” album by the Stones. Trust me. It’s one of the grooviest songs you will ever here.

(It also helps if you appreciate the fact that a potato peeler has a very sharp, and very unforgiving edge. Trust me, it doesn’t know the difference between a Yukon gold and the first knuckle of your thumb).

 

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After bandaging your thumb, and pouring yourself a scotch on the rocks, pre-heat your oven to 475, and place on the middle rack an iron skillet. Bear in mind, eventually the skillet will also reach 475 degrees. To give you an idea of how hot that is, you know in movies when the olde tyme iron-smith plunges a red hot horseshoe into a bucket of water with a pair of tongs? Your skillet will get “bright red horseshoe hot”.

Meanwhile, rinse your chicken with lots of cold water, both inside and out and pat dry. Then, finely chop whatever savory fresh herbs you can get. I like thyme, rosemary and sage (I now hate marjoram after going overboard with that stuff on a Passover leg of lamb a couple years back that I rendered “just shy of inedible”). Chop a good two to three tablespoons worth.

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You want to spread these herbs under the skin of the bird. To separate the skin from the meat, slide your fingers under the skin and gently pry up, without tearing. Insert most of the herbs under the skin, and with whatever you have leftover, toss inside the cavity of the bird. Season the skin well with kosher salt and pepper, and squeeze one half of a lemon all over the bird, and shove the other lemon half into the chicken. Yeah, I said “shove”. 4

 

When your oven reaches 475, CAREFULLY pull out the skillet, and place it on your stove top. With tongs, gently place the chicken on the skillet, breast side up. It should make a really cool sizzling sound when you do, so get ready smile proudly and take a sip of scotch. Pop the skillet back into the oven and cook for 30 minutes.

At this point place a large pot of water on the stove over high heat. While the water’s heating up, chop up some potatoes (I like Yukon gold, ‘cause that waxiness is pretty cool…I dunno why, it just is). And drop them in the water w a good tsp of kosher salt. Brig to a boil and cook for 30 – 40 minutes or until tender.

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Also at this time, and after you’ve refilled that glass of scotch, take a whole head of garlic, slice the top off…avoiding slicing through the bandage on your thumb…and drizzle olive oil over the cut area, and wrap the whole thing in tin foil. Pop this sucker in the oven. In a little while you will be rewarded with a burn on your fingers from thinking you can quickly grab it before it burns you and toss it on your counter. You can’t and you won’t. Use a oven mitt.

After 30 minutes, carefully remove the skillet, and even more carefully, using a pair of sturdy tongs, turn over the chicken onto its breast.

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Place the chicken back into the oven for another 15 minutes. Meanwhile, rinse your spinach leaves in preparation to be sauteed. The fact that you’re having greens tonight should be awarded with another drink. You’ve earned it. After 15 minutes flip the bird over one last time, and roast for another 15 minutes, or until the inside of the breast reaches 160 degrees with a meat thermometer….that you bought that morning.

When it comes out, it should look something like this

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After adding 1/4 cup of cream, a good half stick, or so, of butter to your potatoes, half the roasted garlic cloves and salt and pepper, they should look kinda like this after you’ve mashed them…or if you have a ricer, riced them 8

In a saute pan, quickly heat up a two count drizzle of olive oil and cook the spinach. When all the leaves are wilted, stir in the rest of the (peeled) garlic cloves, and season.

If you’re feeling like you wanna go “all out”, or if you’re in a bad mood and don’t give a shit at how flabby you’re looking/feeling, or need to celebrate the fact that you just kicked ass in the kitchen, whip up some gravy using the chicken skillet.

When it’s all plated, it should look like this

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  • 4 lb. chicken
  • fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage, etc.)
  • lemon
  • kosher salt, fresh black pepper
  • spinach and mashed potatoes
  • scotch


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