Fall is around the corner, my friends. The beginnings of fallish things are happening from the wonderful cooler temperatures and crisp mornings to the not-so-wonderful appearance of Christmas decorations ALREADY. I’m not one to start up the Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving and I’m not one to drink a pumpkin spiced latte until it can actually do its job of warming me up because I’m cold from natural causes (as in, I didn’t sit in my car with my AC on full blast to get the same effect. That’s cheating AND rushing the perfect moment, which I feel, should come about authentically.) My friend Libby is rolling her eyes at me because she LOVES rushing fall and pretending it’s cold outside. In fact, she already had a pumpkin spiced latte! 🙂 I’m fine with seasonal enthusiasts. Honestly – whatever makes you happy! But as for me and my household, we won’t decorate for Christmas until Thanksgiving is over. 🙂
Another thing that makes me happy is starting to think about fall dinners. I love the braising and stewing and the simmering of heavy, warm spices on the stove. One meal that gets me to thinking about the warmth of the winter is this simple and yet divine dish: roasted chicken on top of potatoes. We made this recipe a loooong time ago by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. His recipe was so delicious, we’ve done it a few dozen times since and have varied and simplified and it’s always delicious and always perfect. I never mess this recipe up and it’s always so amazingly delicious. And let’s not ignore why: the potatoes are cooked in schmaltz. You’d also be delicious if you were roasted in chicken fat.
I also love this recipe because it is one of those dishes that everyone can agree on. Add a salad or some braised greens and you’ve got yourself a complete meal!
1 whole chicken, about 3 lbs
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
coarsely ground salt and pepper
butter to coat the pan and chicken
1 head of garlic, sliced in half
sprigs of thyme, rosemary, whatever you have
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter a large cast iron skillet and place the cut potatoes in a single layer. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Pat your chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Rub with butter and then stick the halved garlic head into the chicken cavity and add whatever herbs you like. Place the chicken on one of its sides on top of the potatoes.
Roast for 20 minutes. Turn the chicken onto its other side and roast another 20. Then, turn the chicken breast-side up and continue roasting until juices run clear and an instant-read thermometer says at least 165F, about 15-20 minutes more. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes and carve on top of the potatoes and serve them along with the chicken. Beautiful.
This is a fabulous way to revive the same ol’ chicken recipes you’ve been using every week for your family. We came across this flavor combination years ago from Michael Symon but I’ve done this so many times I’ve strayed pretty far from the original recipe for chicken wings and have adapted it to be a wonderful roasted chicken dish. Have you ever used coriander seeds in your cooking before? It’s got this tutti-fruity flavor that reminds me of Fruity Pebbles cereal (don’t be horrified, it’s actually really good). And combine that flavor with cinnamon and the smokiness of cumin and something kind of magical happens.
If you have a problem spending money on a spice you hardly use, let me be the first to direct you to the Ghandi Bazaar on 34th Street here in Lubbock. If you don’t live in Lubbock, find a local Indian food market or some kind of ethnic market because they sell spices CHEAP. Why? Because they USE THEM A LOT. It’s a staple to most other cultures like flour and sugar is to an American. We bought a 16 oz bag of coriander seeds at Ghandi Bazaar for $2! That sure beats a tiny jar for $4.50 at the grocery store. I don’t think I’ll ever use it up…unless I keep making this chicken…which I need to do this week.
1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces (or pre-cut, but make sure it’s bone-in and skin on)
1/4 cup crushed coriander seeds
1 TBS cinnamon
2 tsp ground cumin
1 TBS kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 375F.
In a large, ziplock bag, add the chicken pieces and the spices and rub everything around until the chicken is completely coated. Pour in the olive oil and mush the bag around again, making sure (to the best of your ability) that all the chicken is coated relatively even.
In a 9×13″ glass pan, or on a cooking rack over a rimmed baking sheet sprayed with oil, add the chicken, evenly spaced apart. Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 165 in the thickest piece. I can’t cook chicken without a meat thermometer, so I can’t tell you an exact time. I just start taking the temp after 30 minutes and leave it in there if it’s not done.
*so good I made it twice on this blog 😉 with slightly different ratios this time. See? I change it all the time. But it’s always good!