Roast Chicken for Les Paresseaux

Oh my friends.

Oh my darling friendly friends.

I am renewing a commitment to what I like to call SAVORY FOOD.

In other words, food that is not cake or doughnuts.

Perhaps because I am still rather sick, but I have been craving all kinds of unusual things. Namely ice cream and heavy rich foods I normally don't approve of.
Tonight I made a roast chicken, and really, there are not words for the self satisfaction I am feeling right now. I have never cooked meat, ever never, until today. Meat is just not my thing. Or at least it wasn't today.

So there was a problem at the beginning, when I realized that if I actually wanted to cook the chicken I would have to touch it. Something that hadn't occured to me when I was reading over the recipe. So I stood in the kitchen, with this horrible naked chicken in the sink, and squealed for five whole minutes. I mean this poor horrible dead thing had a LIVER. And I really didn't want to touch that liver.

In those painful moments I seriously reconsidered becoming a vegetarian.
And then my dad came and saved me, he was very gentlemanly and held the chicken and pulled all of the nasty innards out and all I had to do was salt and pepper.

The moral of the story: Have some one who isn't squeamish to help you. Otherwise you will stand infront of your chicken, and marvel at your ability to forget your normal meat-free cooking principles.

Anyway, once the beginning nastiness is done with, you stuff the chicken with a bit of garlic (sawn in half) and fresh herbs, and you plop the chicken in a oiled dutch oven or very heavy pot with lid and bake it. Here is a very important point: You put the chicken on a thick piece of bread. I cannot stress the importance of this. After about 45 minutes you add some diced root vegetables, such as potatos, and I added sweet potatos, because they rank very high on my favorite foods list, and I added celery and bell pepper for color as well. And garlic. Because impossible to NOT LOVE garlic that has been stewed and cooked and browned forever and ever.
And then you cook everything for a bit longer.

And then you take the chicken out of the oven. And then you go right for that piece of bread that has been soaking up all that fat and juice. And you eat that hot delicious piece of bread. It is the kind of thing that puts people into cardiac arrest, but ignore that. Treat yourself. Calories and fat be damned!

That's what you have to say to that piece of bread. And then you eat it. And then you don't share it with anyone else.

And you still have chicken and potatoes to look forward to!
And honestly, it was some of the best chicken and potatoes I've ever ever eaten.

Did I mention that I'm insanely proud of myself?

Also, this recipe is from Dorie Greenspan's new cookbook Cooking From My French Table. She's the best cookbook writer out there, every recipe comes with a story and everything is very clear and simple, and the ingredients aren't difficult to find. This is real food for real people. I humbly bow down to her supreme greatness and chicken roasting skillz.

P.S. Please ignore my unstellar photographs. I was just so excited you have to understand. I couldn't really even think about taking pictures. Think of them as action shots.

Roast Chicken for Les Paresseaux (Lazy People)
from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan

Olive oil
1 thick slice bread or 2 slices baguette
1 chicken, 4 1/2 to 5 pounds, preferably organic, at room temperature
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 springs each of rosemary, thyme, and oregano
1 garlic head, cut horizontally in half, unpeeled
About 2/3 cup dry white wine or water (optional)
4 baby potatoes, scrubbed and quartered (optional)
2 carrots, trimmed, peeled and cut into thick chunks(optional)
4 shallots, left whole, or one onion quartered (optional)
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch chunks (optional)
1 bell pepper, finely diced (optional)
2 stalks celery, finely diced (optional)
cloves of garlic, peeled (optional)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 450 F.
Rub the inside of a Dutch oven or other large high-sided casserole with oil and place the bread in the center of the pot. Season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Put the liver, if you've got it, inside the chicken and toss in a half sprig of each of the hearbs as well as one half of the garlic. Put the chicken in the pot, resting it on th bread. Put the other garlic half in the pot, along with the remaining herbs,a nd pour in a few tablespoons each of oil and the wine or water, if you're using it. Slide the pot into the oven.
If you'd like to roast the vegetables with the chicken, wait until the chicken has roasted for 45 minutes. Then toss the potatoes, carrots, shallots and other optional vegetables with enough olive oil to them a shine, season generously with salt and pepper, and scatter them around the chicken. Roast the chicken undisturbed for about 45 minutes more-- a total of about 90 minutes-- or until the skin is crackly and crisp and the juices run clear when you pierce the thickest part of the thigh with the tip of a knife. Remove the chicken from the oven
If you're feeling really lazy, you can leave the chicken in the pot for 5 to 10 minutes to rest before serving. If you've got a bit more get-up and go, to get the juices back into the breast meat, put a cereal bowl at one end of a large platter and transfer the chicken, breast side down, to the platter. Let it rest under a foil tennt, tail leaning on the bowl and pointing up, for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Should you want a little pan sauce--and you'll only get a little-spoon the vegetables, if you've got them, into a bowl, remove the bread and skim off as much of the fat remaining in the pot as possible. Put the pot over high heat, and when the liquid boils, pour in about 1/2 cup wine or water and cook, scraping up whatever bit may have stuck to the bottom of the pot. Remove from the heat.
Carve the chicken and serve with the sauce, if you made it.