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.