French Fridays with Dorie: Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux
It’s Friday again. Time to report on this week’s installment in my “French cooking project”. I’m participating in an online cook-a-long, making a recipe each week from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. It’s week 9, and so far, so good. I’ve managed to participate each week. The hits have outnumbered the misses, which is a good thing, of course. You can see what other online cooks taking part in this kitchen adventure think of each week’s recipe at French Fridays with Dorie.
For November, the recipes for the month were announced, but because of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, each person picks the order that works for them. This week, I made Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux. Les Paresseux means “lazy people” in French. This was one of my favorite recipes to date.
The starting point is that I love roast chicken. My usual preparation comes from The New Basics by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, stuffing the chicken with lemon halves and herbs and roasting it on a bed of vegetables that turns into a luscious pan sauce. You also have to baste it periodically.
Dorie’s recipe is so much easier. You stuff the chicken with garlic and herbs. The chicken gets propped up off the bottom of the pan by some bread slices. Accompanying vegetables, and more garlic, roast along with the chicken in a Dutch oven, keeping most of the splatter in the pot.
This recipe was mostly sourced locally. I used a free-range chicken from our meat CSA, Chestnut Farms. The herbs were from my herb garden (which is close enough to the kitchen door that it hasn’t yet succumbed to a hard frost). The potatoes, carrots, and onions were grown at the farms where I bought them. It was comfort food for both body and soul.
I doubled the vegetables, though my Dutch oven was a little too small for what I put into it. The chicken’s skin was burnished and crispy. The roasted potatoes were crusty. The other vegetables were tender, especially the roasted garlic, which melted under the fork.
Now, about the bread. There’s been a lot of discussion about the bread that holds up the chicken. Dorie described it as treat for the cook. Some loved it, and others found it disgusting. I fall in the “loved it” camp. I might not have oiled the pot enough because the bread stuck to the pot, so I didn’t get to eat the crusty parts. The mushy part of the bread was truly decadent. It reminded me of the stuffing inside the Thanksgiving turkey, the heart-attack variety. The two baguette slices weren’t enough for me. Next time, and there will be a next time, I’m thinking of covering the entire bottom of the Dutch oven with baguette slices.
For the two of us, the vegetables lasted only two meals. The chicken lasted four. We had the last of the leftover Potato Gratin with the chicken one night. To supplement the accompaniments, I made roasted squash. The squash has a slight Mexican flair, a little spicy, but not too hot. I’ll share my recipe as a bonus.
Roasted Squash with Chili and Sage
Serves 6 – 8
2 small or 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes (8 – 10 cups in total)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tsp ancho chile powder
8 sage leaves, sliced thin
Salt & pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 450F. Toss the squash with the oil. Sprinkle with sugar, chile and sage leaves and toss to distribute throughout. Arrange the squash on a large baking sheet, in a single layer. Roast, turning once, until tender and lightly browned, 20 – 25 minutes.