When I was in college, I briefly got a free room in a wonderful old farm house outside Cambridge in exchange for being a housekeeper for a bunch of Harvard business school grad students. (One of them was Wally Haas–the Levi’s scion.) I can’t imagine they were very happy with the arrangement because I knew nothing about housekeeping, and very little even about neatness. I can’t remember whether I was supposed to cook as part of the deal, but I do remember having some big dinner event for which I roasted a chicken. The chicken was beautiful on the outside, but bloody juices spurted when the knife went into the leg. It was hugely embarrassing, though I’m probably the only one of the group who remembers it.
I thought of this today, trying a recipe by Melissa Clark for roast chicken that is supposed to be an easy way to get the whole chicken to cook quickly and evenly. It’s a little like spatchcocking, which is cutting the backbone out and laying the bird flat, but in this case, you just cut the skin of the legs so you can flatten the chicken into a very hot frying pan and roast it in a very hot oven.
The recipe called for ramps, a lovely spring vegetable. I don’t have ramps, but I had a lot of spinach from the garden, some fennel, an onion and some lemons, and I wanted to give it a try. The capers are a nice touch, but not essential. You could probably add a bunch of root vegetables in small chunks if you put them in earlier.
After you roast the chicken for 30 minutes you throw in everything except the greens, and cook about 10 minutes more. Mine looked like this and tasted great: juicy, and cooked through and through without drying out! Plus I used up a lot of spinach. I always dry brine poultry these days for a few hours while cooking, and did that for this, too.
While the chicken was roasting, I sorted through my huge pile of untried recipes and organized them into categories. Time well spent. The rain even cleared for awhile by the time we ate.
In case you want to try this delicious and easy chicken, I’ve included Melissa Clark’s recipe here. As you can see, you can substitute easily for ramps.
My cooking has defineley improved over the years, though I can’t say that about my housekeeping abilities. Larry’s comment on this was that I went into business in order to justify my housekeeping skills.